Mar 31, 2009 (02:03 PM EDT)
A Last Look at Open Source BI
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
Open-source BI and I have come to a parting of ways. OS-BI capabilities, reliability, and support have matured. Commercial OS-BI vendors now compete with BI market leaders. That competition now appears to focus primarily on solutions and on the cost and community advantages open-source-reliant business models can (and do) offer enterprises of all sizes. In the end, for me as a technology analyst, OS-BI is simply boring. I will, however, take one last look, a snapshot of the state of the market, before I take my leave of the topic.This article was prompted by three events:
Pentaho and JasperSoft are the leading OS-BI suite vendors. Pentaho released version 3 of its BI suite on March 23: a community, open-source edition and an enterprise edition extended with non-open-source components. OS version 3 "includes a new plug-in framework that allows community members, OEMs and system integrators to easily drop in extensions and other contributions," according to the company. JasperSoft has a new, major release of its own due out very soon.
Another notable suite vendor, Italian systems integrator Engineering Group, created the Spago Java framework to tie together a wide variety of OS-BI and other OS components, and recently brought out SpagoBI version 2.1. (SpagoBI may actually be the most interesting of the OS-BI offerings because it's 100% free and builds on and extends all the OS elements of each of the major, rival OS-BI offerings.)
The VC/equity-research analyst asked me -- event number 2 -- "What is your perspective on the gating factor(s) to broader adoption of open source BI?" He continued,
"My anecdotal conversations with DW/BI consulting firms suggests open source BI is definitely on the radar and a viable option for organizations."
I won't relay our further exchange other than to say that we got into revenues, as good an indicator of enterprise uptake (or disdain) as any. I cited figures Actuate has offered: 2007 OS-driven revenue of $8 million, growing to $15.4 million in 2008. I interpret "OS-driven" as including licensing of non-OS software to accounts that started with OS only. In any case, those are nice growth figures although my analyst friend says Actuate's OS "2009 outlook is for a larger-than-expected slowdown to the 30% range."
As for JasperSoft, according to marketing VP Nick Halsey, "our total sales grew about 80% year-over-year [in 2008], our total customer count grew about three-fold, and we generate millions of dollars in sales each quarter. And, even while our new fiscal year plan is a bit more conservative (gauging the dreadful world economy), we expect to continue posting similar growth in the quarters ahead." Curt Monash had reported back in September that Nick stated a "revenue run rate in the double-digit millions," a statistic that Nick did not disavow.
And a Pentaho source who did not wish to be named offered, "Our run rate by second half of 2008 put us into double digits [millions]. We don't officially post or publish these numbers though." So put each company at about $10 million annually. I'd expect that Jedox (the Palo OLAP server and spreadsheet tools) is doing well too. As for Engineering (SpagoBI), the company's software is 100% free. All revenues result from services. Service revenues related to SpagoBI were likely around $4.5 million in 2008.
Lastly, EclipseCon, which was the geekiest conference I've been to in years. (Hey, that's a good thing -- lots of hard-core coders -- except that I'd estimate the ratio of men to women at at least 20 to 1.) Program chair Scott Rosenbaum and I shared a stage to talk about BI. Scott's a managing partner at Innovent Solutions and a BIRT user himself. I talked big-picture BI -- mainstream and open-source and use of Eclipse by both -- and Scott showed off an analysis of session-attendance data collected over the first days of the conference, generated by the scanners tracking RFID tags embedded in everyone's badges. You can look at our slides if you wish; my biggest take-away is how ordinary BIRT and BI seemed to attendees.
So now it's time for me, as an analyst, to move on. I'll use OS-BI software when I have a project need, and I'll continue to follow open-source databases and data warehousing and open-source text and data mining, which have been and still are compelling sources of innovation and market disruption. But OS-BI? Congratulations on the success. Have a good life. You've earned it.Open-source BI and I have come to a parting of ways. OS-BI capabilities, reliability, and support have matured. Commercial OS-BI vendors now compete with BI market leaders. That competition now appears to focus primarily on solutions and on the cost and community advantages open-source-reliant business models can (and do) offer. I will, however, take one last look, a snapshot of the state of the market, before I take my leave of the topic...