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Pentaho 4 Improves User-Driven Business Intelligence

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Posted June 23, 2011 By Sean Michael Kerner     Feedback

Business intelligence isn't just for an elite few anymore.

Business intelligence (BI) software is all about deriving value from data. It's a goal that commercial open source BI vendor Pentaho is aiming to expand upon with the Pentaho BI 4 Enterprise Edition release this week.

The Pentatho BI 4 release includes new tools like an enhanced visual interface and report designer that are intended to help make it easier for users to fully leverage the power of BI.

"With 4.0, the whole theme is around user-driven BI," Pentaho CEO Richard Daley told InternetNews.com. "The epiphany is a matter of abstracting the end users from the complexity of the underlying platforms and data structures."

At the core of Pentaho 4 is a data access layer that makes the analysis possible. Daley explained that in 4.0 there is now a wizard-style component that allows non-technical users to point at their data and operational stores, wherever they may be, for analysis.

"In our environment, which is open source, people download software and do their evaluations on their own," Daley said. "So anything we can do to blow down barriers and open the door to adoption is something we want to do."

Daley added that Pentaho 4 also has a functionally rich web-based report designer, so users don't necessarily have to install a desktop client. Data discovery has also been enhanced, including the ability to have multiple visualizations for a single set of data.

The whole user interface has also been redone for navigation as well as look and feel.

"We went though and made the UI feel more like an app inside of an iPad," Daley said. "If you will, it's putting more of the sex and sizzle back into BI."

Daley noted that Pentaho has had a cloud-hosted offering for the least 12 months. There isn't a specific Pentaho hardware appliance and Daley added that hardware isn't even on his whiteboard. In terms of installing Pentaho to physical or virtual infrastructure, Daley stressed it doesn't matter.

"If you virtualize something that looks like a piece of crap, who cares?" Daley said. "So we need to make sure that everything we do looks as good as possible."

From an open source perspective, Pentaho has both an Enterprise edition and a community open source edition. Daley explained that the data discovery and enhanced interactive reporting capabilities are in the Enterprise edition. He added that the data sources, to simplistically access data, is open source, as is the redone user interface.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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