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Open Source Business Intelligence: What Are Your Options?: Page 2

By Drew Robb     Feedback
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Open Source, Business Intelligence Converge

Forrester sees open source business intelligence benefiting from two trends: the growing adoption of both open source software and business intelligence.

"Open source software and business intelligence are two related market segments where Forrester sees continually increasing interest and adoption levels," said Boris Evelson, an analyst at Forrester. "BI specifically continues to be one of the top priorities on everyone's mind."

He believes this is due to the fact that enterprises are seeking to squeeze every last ounce of information out of their data stores and applications. Those that don't could risk falling behind the competition.

Open source software has quietly been invading the enterprise via lower echelons unbeknownst to top management. Suddenly, those managers are waking up to the fact. Forrester's Enterprise and SMB Software Survey at the end of 2009 showed that management has caught on to the fact that developers increasingly use open source to run key parts of the IT infrastructure, and they have grown increasingly comfortable with it.

Evelson makes a sharp distinction between suites and focused BI tools within the open source camp.

Among the focused tools, he lists: Apatar, CloverETL, Enhydra Octopus, Jetstream, Jitterbit, Pentaho's Kettle, SnapLogic and Talend for data integration; Talend and the Open Source Data Quality and Profiling project for data quality jobs; BIRT, iReport, JasperReports, JFreeChart, OpenI and OpenReports for reporting; Mondrian, JPivot, and Palo for OLAP; R for advanced analytics; and Orange and Weka for data. In addition, SpagoBI is sponsoring a GeoBI project with partners like Spatialytics and OpenGeo for geospatial analytics and location intelligence.

"If you seek a full BI suite, then the options are BEE, Jaspersoft, Pentaho and SpagoBI," said Evelson. "Some critical components of enterprise-grade BI capabilities like integrated metadata management are not even fully addressed by the open source community at this point."

Another point to pay attention to is community versus commercial versions of these tools. Community versions of these products are available via free download, but they often lack such features as GUI-based administration, integrated security and connectivity to popular data sources. Thus Evelson recommends the commercial versions, which are typically based on the model of paying for software support. He offers the example of BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools). The community version known as Eclipse BIRT offers mostly components. For those seeking enterprise-class features, the commercial version is needed, which is known as Actuate BIRT (Actuate is based on open source BIRT, which is an Eclipse Foundation open source project founded and co-led by Actuate).

Forrester's evaluation of OSBI vendors placed Actuate at the head of the class due to the richness of its reporting functionality.

"Jaspersoft Enterprise, SpagoBI, Pentaho Enterprise, and Pentaho Community are close behind and also offer much fuller and broader BI stack than Actuate BIRT," said Evelson.

Forrester rates Actuate as having a sophisticated production report development environment and a unique e-Spreadsheet report delivery option. Gartner concurs, but adds a caution about high fees for hardware upgrades.

"Actuate has been proven in very large extranet application deployments that serve the financial and public sectors," said Gartner's Salam.


This article was originally published on November 24, 2010
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