Hope you haven't given up on this, yet, sushi. I'm not around as often as I'd like to be.
If it doesn't HAVE to be CF reading directly from an XLS file (and IF there is a MS-SQL database involved), you can always import the data from XLS into an MS-SQL Server database, and access the data from the SQL server.
I know that MySQL has a built in ability to create XLS files from a database table; but I don't think the reverse is true. But it's been a while since I have worked with MySQL.
There are a few good third-party solutions out there for accessing data directly from an XLS file, if it HAS to be immediate or "on the fly" access. I don't think any of them are cheap or free, though. Just Google "ColdFusion AND Excel AND read", see if anything pops up.