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Pentaho Upgrades Open Source Business Intelligence Software

By Sean Michael Kerner     Feedback

Pentaho's latest business intelligence suite ups the ante with guided analysis and interactive dashboards.

Business intelligence (BI) software can provide a wealth of information, though it's not always easy to build reports and dashboards to make sense of the data.

The new Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition 3.8 release aims to help, with new functionality for guided analysis and building reports. Pentaho uses an "open core" model, with a core open source community edition and an enterprise edition that bundles proprietary features on top.

"As an end-user, if you're designing reports, dashboards or an analysis view, you can now define navigational links across content," Ian Fyfe, Pentaho's chief technology evangelist, told InternetNews.com. "So you can be in a dashboard and define a link that will take you to a report or an analysis view, or vice versa."

Fyfe noted that the new capabilities enable the setup of guided analysis across content. The Pentaho dashboard has also been improved with content linking. So as users interact with content, other linked content is refreshed and updated.

On the performance side, the Pentaho analyzer, an OLAP data analysis feature, now has what is known as a query-less design mode.

"Typically when you're designing an analytic report, you are dragging and dropping different dimensions into the report, and every time you do that we'd be hitting the database," Fyfe said. "If it's a large database, that can take time, so what we've done is introduce the query-less mode so the report can be designed without hitting the database."

The database query only needs to execute now when the report is actually being run, as opposed to when the analytic report is being designed. According to Fyfe, the new mode makes designing reports more efficient and faster.

Pentaho 3.8 also improves the in-memory caching capabilities of the BI suite.

"We've introduced intelligent in-memory caching for Pentaho reporting," Fyfe said. "This really speeds up performance by caching the query results for a particular report in memory, for a configurable amount of time."

Rival open source business intelligence vendor Jaspersoft has provided in-memory caching since at least its Jaspersoft 3.7 release.

Another key area of improvement for Pentaho 3.8 comes by way of simplified Hadoop data integration. Fyfe said the improvements enable Pentaho to be used a visual interface for building Hadoop jobs.

Pentaho BI Enterprise edition is a proprietary product, though there is a community edition 3.8 set to be released in a week. The community edition does not have the same Hadoop capabilities as the enterprise edition.

"The main feature that is related to both Enterprise and Community edition is the in-memory caching capability," Fyfe said.

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

For more on open source business intelligence, see Open Source Business Intelligence: What Are Your Options?

This article was originally published on March 16, 2011
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