XMLA is an XML-based API or communication protocol used in the field of Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) and Business Intelligence (BI). This API was created in order to standardize the communication of a client application and an analytical data provider over an Internet connection. The communication between client and data source takes place using XML messages through the standard Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). To query databases, XMLA uses MDX, a common multi-dimensional query language. For more details, refer to the MDX query resource page.
XMLA allows analytical client applications to move from a traditional client-server architecture to a more flexible, loosely-coupled, Internet-oriented environment. XMLA allows client applications to communicate with OLAP servers or multi-dimensional sources, which are Internet-based by nature – solving client-server dependency issues. This way, users can deploy applications from any location, and can share them within organizations or between companies, across the Web. In addition, XMLA supports regular Web protocols (XML, HTTP or SOAP) and various standard platforms (by Microsoft, SAS, SAP and Hyperion, and recently Oracle); and does not require knowledge of specific interfaces and APIs or special installations. Finally, XMLA minimizes the number of client requests and roundtrips to the server, thus allowing data sources to improve scalability and robustness.
How ActivePivot Users Benefit from XMLA
ActivePivot is one of many platforms supporting the XMLA communication protocol. Its users can easily benefit from the many advantages of XMLA, while enjoying the powerful real time analytical capabilities of the ActivePivot platform:
- Accessability: ActivePivot can be accessed from any location that runs an XMLA driver, supporting any user interface that communicates with XMLA, such as Excel.
- Advanced XMLA/MDX features: Users accessing ActivePivot from an XMLA driver can enjoy advanced XMLA/MDX formulas and calculated measures (such as revenues-cost calculations).
- Viewing and Updating Data in Real Time: ActivePivot users can go beyond regular XMLA usage -- ActivePivot's powerful data capabilities enable users to view and update their spreadsheet in real time (contact us to install our spreadsheet services).
About the OLAP Cube
XMLA allows users to connect to OLAP data sources, which in turn connect to and dynamically create OLAP cubes. OLAP cubes provide a convenient way to compress data in an Excel file. The Excel Pivot table uses pull technology to get information from thousands to millions of data points, all of which can be shared using a lightweight Excel spreadsheet.
OLAP cubes create a physical separation between Pivot table and source data. While the Pivot table relies on the OLAP cube for data processing, the source data can be located anywhere in the network and can be updated without having to depend on the Pivot table.
While allowing XMLA users to use OLAP cubes natively, ActivePivot goes beyond the regular OLAP cube functionality -- it uses a powerful push technology to enable real time access of source data (whether in Excel or in ActiveUI).