Category: "Business Intelligence"

BI Team Blog on OSBI

Welcome to the wonderful world of OSBI [not Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation] &#59;) Our linkblog now has over 60 links to OSBI projects, and other sites. I hope that you find it useful. We'll be updating our wiki and lens on Squidoo to match it.

I just ran across the BI Team Blog from Face and Hannibal, as they "uncover open source business intelligence", discovered via Technorati. I tried to leave a comment, but I'm having this little problem.

At any rate, I've added the BI Team to our linkblog. I plan to follow along as they check out Pentaho and JasperSoft BI Solutions. Check them out.

Upadate 20070415;13h05: I had set this post up as a trackback to the BI Team, and had recieved an "OK" back from the server, but I see it hasn't appeared 17 hours later. /sigh Let's try again... Hmm, says that they already have a ping from us for that post.

An Afternoon at JasperSoft

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with Andrew Lampitt, Senior Manager Business Development, Nick Halsey, VP of Marketing, and Ian Frey, Director of Product Management & Product Marketing, at JasperSoft HQ in downtown San Francisco.

We discussed a wide variety of topics such as all of our backgrounds, JasperSoft's history, strategies, and future plans. Here's a sampling of the conversation.

  • As announced in January, JasperETL is based upon Talend Open Studio. JasperSoft found Talend Open Studio to be a very mature and well-planned data integration product. While the Talend Open Studio ETL tool was only released in the latter part of 2006, it is the result of a three year R & D effort led by former Informatica and DataStage personnel system integrators [updated 20070416]. The goal of JasperETL is to provide an easy-to-use but fully featured graphical ETL tool to facilitate data integration for the Jasper BI Suite.
  • There are over l30 active projects available for download on JasperForge. According to the forge statistics, 38 are public and 93 are private. Some of these projects use JasperSoft products, some extend them, and some provide embedding or integration of JasperSoft products into other applications. This led to a discussion of the Jasper4 program vs. other adapters; JasperSoft provides the functions in a Jasper4 branded application, such as Jasper4salesforce, while adapters or other applications from the community or third-parties would not carry the Jasper4 brand. CRM is a particularly active area as exemplified by the SugarCRM adapter, the partnership with Centric [see the OSA announcement] & the previously mentioned Jasper4salesforce.
  • JasperSoft has 5000 payinq customers in 81 countries, approximately half are ISVs embedding JasperSoft capabilities into their own products, projects or offerings.
  • JasperAnalysis & JasperServer are separate projects but share the same framework, which is why they were originally released on the JasperForge as JasperIntelligence, but they are currently being branded as Jasper BI suite; Ian gave a presentation showing the architecture and roadmap.

Overall it was an informative afternoon, and we're looking forward to working more with JasperSoft BI Suite in the future.

Campus Technology 2007 Schedule

The schedule for the Campus Technology 2007 conference is online; a PDF of the brochure is also available for download. In addition to our session, there are several other workshops and talks related to either BI/DW or open source solutions.

We're hoping to coordinate with other speakers, so that our sessions are complementary and to avoid duplication.

Will you be going to CT 2007? What would you like to see discussed in terms of BI/DW and open source solutions? See you there.

BI To Build or Buy or Open Source

As we prepare for our talk at Campus Technology 2007, we're considering some of the topics we might cover.

First off... "What is BI?" Even on WikiPedia, this is a topic of conversation, as you can see by clicking on the "discussion" tab of the Business Intelligence article. For our purposes, we'll define business intelligence as business processes and the integrated applications or individual tools that are implemented specifically to provide data management, reporting and analytics to solve specific business and user community needs.

As with other IT initiatives, a BI program can be built from scratch, built from an existing framework, such as the open source Eclipse BIRT or the proprietary tools from SAS, purchased as a COTS product, bought as SaaS, obtained as an appliance or implemented from Open Source projects.

I can't imagine an IT shop that hasn't faced the decision to build or buy, and then to decide how to build or what to buy. And many IT shops have developed a culture that leans one way or another. Today, however, there are some new wrinkles... new variables in the decision making equation. There are more options than ever before:

  • more language options,
  • more vendors and more vendor consolidation
  • more libraries,
  • more open standards,
  • more architectures,
  • more services, and
  • more concerns.

These options provide more flexibility in meeting organizational and user needs, but more challenges in leading the way to a responsive, secure, compliant, cost effective and maintainable information infrastructure.

Some of these options are fairly new, and can have wide-ranging impact for internal standards and procedures going forward. Among these new options, especially in BI strategies, are Appliances, SaaS [not SAS] &#59;) and Open Source Solutions. Even more confusing, some appliances use open source software components, some are strictly proprietary in all their parts, and some are a mix; while some open source vendors make their software available only under an approved open source license, and others use dual licenses: open source and proprietary, sometimes with different features or different names for the different licensed versions. Oh, and we're not even going to touch the myriad of open source licenses out there, nor the debate over whether or not certain licenses or certain vendors are "really truly open source".

Every situation is different, and we're not going to try to solve all the world's problems, or even BI strategies in a simple blog post.

One point that I would like to make is that BI is, IMNSHO, especially well suited to open source solutions. At their best, proprietary solutions still only give one a starting point, which must be customized for the source system customizations and uniqueness inherent in each IT shop, as well as the specific business processes, organizational considerations and user desires that are driving the BI program. Here are some examples of what I mean.

  • A BI solution is likely to take from a variety of source systems [financial, human resources, full ERP, grant management, housing, student records, large legacy software, new enterprise applications, small local databases and spreadsheets], and may have different real-time and historical requirements than those source systems. You may be considering implementing SOA throughout your enterprise, and exposing some or all of those potential source systems as services. Thus, do you connect directly or do you need ETL, or maybe a mix of ETL and ESB, to get your source data to your BI system? Whether you purchase a proprietary system from Informatica or Oracle or Data Stage or Tibco or BEA or IBM, or download an open source solution such as KETTLE or KETL or Jetstream or Mule or ServiceMix, you can't just install the software, auto-magically connect to all of your source systems and have a nice working system at the end of the day.
  • Any reporting tool just gives you the ability to design and format reports. There probably aren't any nice canned reports, out of the box, that will make your users dance in the hallways. So, do you buy Crystal Reports, or do you download JasperReports, jFreeReports, or openReports?
  • The same can be said and asked for analytical tools such as OLAP and MDDB, predictive tools, data mining and dashboards.

The point is that even for small organizations, or simple reporting needs, the best that you get from proprietary vendors are the tools to create the BI solutions needed, and the best that you get from open source solutions is exactly the same, plus the actual source code to customize if need be and a community to help share the pain. Proprietary BI solutions can cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars or euros or marks or credits in licensing costs plus consultants, plus programmers, plus hardware, plus support. Open source is much the same on the plus cost, but greatly reduced in the licensing cost, sometimes to zero. The bonus may be slicker wizards to help your programmer-analysts deliver the solution in a proprietary vs. open source case, or greater flexibility and control in the open source vs. proprietary case. The trade off here is the same as those old buy IBM or build COBOL solutions we once considered: what will get the project delivered on-time, within-budget and meeting the specifications?

Again, we're not trying to present the ultimate solution here, but hopefully, we've opened up the possibilities. So, take the lead, and generate your strategy one step at a time. I have to run, but I'll come back later to fill in some links. For open source projects and vendors, take a look at our linkblog in the side column.

Campus Technology 2007

Mary Grush has invited Clarise and I me to speak at the Campus Technology 2007 conference to be held in Washington, D.C., USA. We'll be speaking on Wednesday, 2007 August 1 at 11:15am-12:15pm. In general, institutes of higher learning are only beginning to explore data warehousing and business intelligence technologies, and, in general, they don't like what they're seeing from traditional, proprietary vendors. From our initial conversations with Mary, here's our direction. We'll develop this here in the OSS Blog as much as we can. We would really appreciate any comments to help us refine our talk.

Cost Effective BI/DW Strategy


Our strategy for reporting, data management and analysis programs and projects responds to user needs quickly without blowing the budget. Using open source software, project management, and user involvement, this strategy economically and efficiently meets campus-wide and departmental data warehouse, data mart, and business intelligence needs through dashboards, reporting, OLAP, and data mining tools. Cost effective results can be in user's hands in as little as one week.

Points to be covered
  1. A framework leading to an economical strategy/BI-roadmap for data warehousing, data management or data analytics programs
  2. Program, Project & Risk Management methods
  3. Risk and advantages of using open Source Solutions for BI suites or DW/data mining components such as ETL/EAI/ESB, RDBMS & MDDB, meta data management, reporting, OLAP engines, multi-variate analysis (a.k.a. "slice & dice"), machine learning, portals, and dashboards
  4. User involvement for determining specifications and implementing quality control
  5. Costing, value and return
Take-away Points
  1. Strategy and tactics should be separated with a clear iteration plan for quick, economical response to user & organizational needs
  2. Agile development doesn't mean a lack of project management nor should it allow scope creep
  3. Open source software has matured to the point where it can certainly be used for prototyping and even production

OpenRPT 2.0 Available for Download

OpenMFG announced the availability of OpenRPT 2.0 on 2006 December 20. From their forum...

"OpenRPT 2.0 was retooled from the ground up to take full advantage of the underlying Qt 4 framework. Qt is an open source, comprehensive development framework that includes an extensive array of features, capabilities and tools that enable development of high-performance, cross-platform rich-client and server-side applications. Among the new OpenRPT features enabled by updating from Qt 3 to Qt 4 is the ability to export to Adobe PDF natively for both the OpenRPT API and the rendering application.

"Other new features include support for generic ODBC database connections (the first release only supported the open source PostgreSQL database - and native PostgreSQL support continues in 2.0); enhanced page break functionality; and power tools for developers such as command-line arguments and parameters, multiple document printing, and advanced error trapping.

"Since it was released as an open source project in 2005, OpenRPT has been downloaded over 30,000 times..."end quotation
-- OpenRPT report writer and renderer

OSBI for Campus Technology Magazine

I was just interviewed by Bennett Voyles for Campus Technology Magazine. The topic was information about Open Source Business Intelligence, and the article is in response to interest from their target audience, CIOs in higher education. We covered some general topics, like a timeline of OSBI evolution and the types of BI tools available, as well as some specific examples of open source BI tools solving user needs. We discussed the differences between proprietary and open source software in areas such as development, test, community, feature inclusion, selection process, security and stability.

From Ben's description, the article will cover more than our interview and topics of discussion. I'm looking forward to reading it. We'll link to it, when it comes out.

Open Source BI News Week Ending 2006 October 20

In trying to be your one source for Open Source Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing and related topics, we're starting a new feature providing links to press releases, news, blogs and analyst coverage that should be of interest. For this post, let's see what's been happening over the past week or so.

Pentaho has been making quite a few press releases in October, so you might want to look at all of their news. Rick Mortensen of MARVELit has been laying out his strategy in his blog, so the three posts listed above, are very important to anyone interested in quickly deploying dashboards. We have several podcasts currently "in audio engineering" [Clarise & I, in our spare time] :>> based upon an hour-and-an-half-long interview with Rick, and a session wherein he walked us through their online demo of Dash. I'm working towards having them up soon.

Talend - new open source ETL with a new data management vision

We would like to thank Charly Clairmont for visiting our Open Source Business Intelligence Squidoo Lens and writing us the following note...

"Talend is a new open source ETL with a new data management vision.
Talend's solutions collect, process and consolidate data residing in organization's various, heterogeneous systems and injects them into a centralized data warehouse (datamart)...

Talend provide 4 solutions :
* developer tools : to create process
* administrator : to manage distributed process on a grid architecture
* launcher tools : to launch process
* PAM : Process Activities Monitor

I just want to inform you about the avability of Talend a new open source ETL.

The ETL language is PERL, and JAVA. But Perl provide many more connectors than other java libraries.

What is very "sexy" is the client tool for developer which is build on Eclipse RCP. Also, because of etl experience of the leaders of the project, Fabrice Bonan and Bertrand Diard. The developer tool has a business and technical aspects...

You can find more information on :

Best regards.

end quotation

We have updated our Open Source Business Intelligence Squidoo Lens Links to OSS ETL Tools to reflect this. We look forward to checking out Talend.

Please feel free to contact us , if any of you know of any other Open Source BI Tools that is currently not in our lens or have any updates to the projects listed, any OSS events or any other feedback you would wish to give. &#59;D

Pentaho SQR for Bugzilla

Today, Pentaho launched their new open source project, Software Quality Reports (SQR) for Bugzilla. Bugzilla is a "Defect Tracking System" or "Bug-Tracking System" that allows developers to keep track of outstanding bugs in their product. We interviewed Lance Walter and Nicholas Goodman of Pentaho for this podcast to get the inside story about this new project.

Software Quality Reports for Bugzilla is the first in a series of focused solutions that Pentaho will be bringing forth in 2006 onward. SQR for Bugzilla is based upon the Pentaho Open BI Suite to provide enhanced reporting and analysis of data from Bugzilla.

Lance pointed out that one reason the first Pentaho solution was for Bugzilla is that Bugzilla has quickly achieved worldwide popularity for its rich functionality, and is used by organizations ranging from open source leaders like The Apache Project, Novell, Open Office, and Red Hat to public- and private-sector organizations including NASA, AT&T, Citigroup, GlaxoSmithKline, France Telecom, Rutgers University,, Siemens and more.

Nick provides a wealth of details on the uses and goals of the SQR for Bugzilla project. Bugzilla is used as a source system for the Pentaho solution, though other source systems, such as configuration management and version control, can be added. The Pentaho SQR for Bugzilla adds reports and analytical slice & dice which allow project managers, end users and developers to answer questions about bug resolution or bug burn that can not be easily answered using only Bugzilla reports. Pentaho SQR for Bugzilla is a separate project, licensed under the open source Mozilla license 1.1, and can be downloaded from Pentaho or Sourceforge.

Screen shots can be found at Sourceforge.

The Pentaho SQR for Bugzilla podcast
is approximately 40 minutes in length and 37 MB in size.

Update: You can read the full press release from Pentaho, New Open Source Project Harnesses World’s Most Popular Open Source BI Suite to Enhance Bugzilla with Reporting and Analysis.

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At the beginning, The Open Source Solutions Blog was a companion to the Open Source Solutions for Business Intelligence Research Project, and book. But back in 2005, we couldn't find a publisher. As Apache Hadoop and its family of open source projects proliferated, and in many ways, took over the OSS data management and analytics world, our interests became more focused on streaming data management and analytics for IoT, the architecture for people, processes and technology required to bring value from the IoT through Sensor Analytics Ecosystems, and the maturity model organizations will need to follow to achieve SAEIoT success. OSS is very important in this world too, for DMA, API and community development.

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