April 23, 2006 9:00 PM PDT

Open source meets business intelligence

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Database start-ups bet on open source

August 10, 2005
On the heels of open-source databases come business-intelligence tools, with smaller companies betting on open-source practices to crack into that corner of the software market.

JasperSoft on Monday is set to detail its plans to expand its portfolio with a suite of freely available server-based components for business intelligence. Last week, rival Pentaho released its own commercial-grade open-source business intelligence tool set.

Several software companies are adopting open-source software and business models in an effort to unseat entrenched suppliers. Open-source databases, for example, are widely used, according to analysts.

The Jasper Intelligence product line will include a server for generating reports. In about a month, the company is expected to release a component for doing analysis and then a so-called ETL product later this year for moving data between different sources.

The Java-based server products will complement the company's existing open-source product, JasperReports for generating reports.

Business intelligence software--a collection of products tools for analyzing business data such as sales records--is one area corporate customers continue to spend on, according to analysts' surveys. The segment is dominated by larger, full-service companies, such as IBM and Oracle, and specialized vendors, such as SAS, Cognos, Business Objects and Hyperion.

JasperSoft's strategy is to undercut entrenched vendors on price with a simpler product, said Paul Doscher, CEO of JasperSoft. It is designing its product to appeal to developers, who can take the software and embed data analysis into applications they write, rather than try to sell directly to end users.

"The reason people don't use business intelligence now is because it's too complex and it involves interaction with a professional IT organization," Doscher said. "Open source allows developers to integrate (business intelligence) into an application."

The San Francisco-based company, which estimates about 10,000 deployments of its software, intends to make money by charging for high-end versions of its open-source tools and by offering support services.

Pentaho is another relatively young company taking the open-source route to business intelligence. Last week, the Orlando, Fla.-based company released its own expanded suite of business intelligence tools.

The company's latest products, Pentaho BI Suite Professional Edition and Pentaho Reporting Server Professional Edition, are extensions to the Pentaho BI open-source project software.

The company intends to charge a license fee for the high-end editions of its business-intelligence suite. It said that the open-source products contain about 90 percent of the functionality of the closed-source versions.

Meanwhile, a number of vendors are participating in an Eclipse open-source project Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT), which was founded by Actuate.

See more CNET content tagged:
business intelligence, JasperSoft, open source, vendor, IBM Corp.

8 comments

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Underneath the hood
One of the projects that Pentahio for example, is using to generate raports is JFreeRaport. I personally follow this project for over a year and participate in their forum. But these kind of projects usually never get such publicity as the suits that use them.
Posted by Martin_Jozef (21 comments )
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JFreeReport
I agree with you, sometimes you dont know the projects involved beneath a platform. JFreeReport is a great reporting tool, I think better than Jasper. I follow the same project for reporting in Java Applications and Web Applications too.
Posted by enriqueq--2008 (12 comments )
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It's about usability, not open source per se
Just by having BI components as open source doesn't really meet the challenge of making BI more accessible to the end users. Most BI tools (commercial and open source) are focused on the IT to make it easier for software developers to build BI applications. However, this still relies on the developers to build the right BI app for the users. The end users of BI, usually business analysts, want a simple yet powerful tool that lets them intuitively "see" their data and analyze it. By that account, Excel is the most powerful BI tool out there today, of course with caveats about data syncrhonization, etc. What open source does very successfully is that removes the price barrier to BI so that SMB's can now affor BI tools. Still, for BI to be successful, the key challenge to be addressed is usability. Make it easy for the end user and they'll adopt BI -- open source or not.
Posted by sandeep_giri (2 comments )
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Open-Source BI Current State
Open-source BI tools are consolidating and maturing at a very rapid rate, and I believe they have evolved (or soon will evolve) to the point where some can be used in an enterprise BI deployment. However - before the major projects like Pentaho and JasperSoft can really challenge BI leaders like Informatica, Cognos, Business Objects, etc. - there needs to be more widespread adoption of the technology amongst BI practioners. This is the community that has the enterprise design skills and the business background to give these products real traction&and build the large systems that will generate reliable support revenue.
Posted by chris_lavigne (2 comments )
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Message has been deleted.
Posted by chris_lavigne (2 comments )
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Thank you for your post Martin Lamonica about open source Business Intelligence tools. You give us a good insight of those open source programs.
As time goes by, new solutions arrive on the market and as Chris has commented, some of them have come to be enterprise oriented. And as the post has listed open source Business Intelligence programs, other open source tools have been developed and distributed to companies and organizations: Talend Open Studio is one of them. It is an open source data integration tool, used for loading data warehouses and Business Intelligence applications. Talend has an active community able to solve problems and a special debugging team to quickly change features on updates.
Overall, it is easy to use, fast to operate and free to download: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.talend.com/download.php" target="_newWindow">http://www.talend.com/download.php</a>.
Posted by Gurutd (1 comment )
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Has there been any follow up on this topic? As expected there have been quite a few developments since this article has been created and it would be great to see a more updated comparison. I'd be interested in Jasper, as well as these ones:
* BIRT http://www.eclipse.org/birt/phoenix/
* G2 http://code.google.com/p/g2-report-engine/
* Pentaho http://www.pentaho.org
...and anything new that has come out lately
Posted by TimJ12 (1 comment )
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One should also try www.openi.org- Reporting tool.
Posted by Sushant_p (1 comment )
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