Aug 24, 2005 (03:08 PM EDT)
Review: Actuate's Open-Source Reporting Tool
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
The Actuate and Eclipse versions are the same except that the Actuate version includes an automated installer, commercial licensing, maintenance and support from Actuate. The BIRT technology consists of a report development environment, a report file format specification and a report rendering engine for tables and charts. The project is 100 percent Java-based and generates HTML- and PDF-based BI reports. The report engine is designed to run as a compiled environment to improve performance. The report development environment runs within the Eclipse Development Environment and the report rendering engine runs on various application servers including the one used with Eclipse Web tools. Ventana Research believes that other BI technology that is not 100 percent Java-based will be viewed less favorably for Java application projects where a pure environment is a high priority. BIRT and other similar Java-based reporting technologies (e.g. JasperSoft) will improve developer productivity on Java-based applications that require reporting. The other alternatives -- custom coding of reports in Java and non-Java based reporting technology -- incur extra development and maintenance costs.
Actuate’s strategy is to penetrate the application development market by appealing to the 4.5 million Java developers worldwide. Of these developers, 65 percent use the Eclipse development environment. Actuate intends to develop a strong grassroots following among these Eclipse developers who will then influence key economic buyers within their organizations. Actuate’s business model is based on the expectation that organizations that download and learn the open source version of BIRT will then be motivated to license the company's commercial version, which includes maintenance and support from Actuate. Software revenue business models based on commercial version upgrades from open source are few; JBoss is one successful example. Ventana Research believes that the success of BIRT will hinge on the motivation to upgrade to a commercial product. For BIRT to be a significant revenue contributor, Actuate will have to provide a compelling reason to upgrade beyond the availability of maintenance.
Ventana Research believes BIRT and similar open source BI reporting projects will dramatically reduce report creation time within the Java development community. For this reason, as well as the fact that open source BI technology has no accompanying license fee, we believe that embedded BI built on open source technology like BIRT will eventually supersede the custom-built BI capabilities used frequently today in Java-based applications. With operational applications built using BI technology, embedded reporting systems like BIRT will capture a larger share of the BI market in the future.
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