Category: "Business Intelligence"

OSBI Coming of Age at LinuxWorld

As we've written before, 2005 saw an explosion of open source business intelligence projects. In 2006, we're starting to see these projects coming of age. This was evident at LinuxWorldSF by the showing of of Open Source BI companies Pentaho, JasperSoft, EnterpriseDB, GreenPlum, PostrgreSQL, MySQL and others. Jacqueline Emigh has a good article at LinuxPlanet, BI Vendors Get Smart Around Linux, Open Source.

Float in Project Time Management

Whether one is a project manager for an Open Source Business Intelligence Project or any project for that matter, managing and monitoring project schedules are very important. One must continuously monitor schedule to actual work performed to ensure that the project stays on target. Delays in the project schedule affect all the aspects of the project.

In our project engagements one (with respect to Time Management) of the project performance reports we do is Float Analysis.

Float Analysis
Click to view original size

The concept of float is integral to Critical Path. Float or sometimes referred to as “Slack” can be thought of as the maximum time an activity can slip without delaying the end date of project. As a quick way of looking at a float for a network diagram, if an activity is on the critical path, it has a zero float. (I have read some technical cases where this is not always true but it is still a quick way to look at it &#59;D) Simply, the activity with zero float has no time buffer or allowance for work slippage, i.e., if the activity is not finished on time, it will cause the project to fall behind schedule.

If we look at the example of the previous blog post, Critical Path in Schedule Management, the sample durations are:

Click to view original size

If you look at this simple example, all the activities are in the critical path since the critical paths are:
Start-A-B-E-F-C-End and Start-D-B-E-F-C-End.

Remember though that when managing the schedule and critical activities of your project, the other aspects of the project - Scope, Cost, Quality, Resource Management, Communication, Risk, and Procurement Management should not be neglected or have less emphasis.

Open Source Business Intelligence Adoption

According to the August 2005 TDWI Report Series,

Enterprise BI Licenses Costs up to $700,000 for 1000 users, not including Training or Premium Support Services.end quotation

Cost has been a motivator to moving to Open Source Business Intelligence (OSBI). But, why are large enterprises not fast enough in Open Source BI adoption?

I believe some of the challenges to moving to OSBI by large enterprises with existing BI implementation include but not limited to:

  • Investment: Large enterprises have spent millions of dollars in their current BI infrastructure as well as staff training. Would they easily throw that away?
  • Resistance to Change: It is human nature to resist change. As human beings, we fear what we don’t know. There is the politics involved in moving to an OSBI solution. I have seen users and administrators become attached to how they do things and using a particular tool is part of “how we do things”.
  • Changes to Operational Procedures: For BI administrators, changing tools and infrastructure means a disruption to the current and working set of operational procedures.
  • View of Career Threat: I’ve seen push backs when people think their careers will be in jeopardy because they are not knowledgeable in it. In the tough job market, people get worried that their job will go away because a new software or tool is going to be deployed.

I am sure there are other challenges out there. OSBI tools have a lot to offer. For instance, OSBI tools can be used to prototype new implementation. Developing a prototype is a good way to confirm that the design and technologies used will meet the enterprise BI needs. The OSBI prototype can be extended to see data validity or to assess data cleansing needs.

There are many possibilities but many challenges as well. Each challenge has a solution. For instance, when it is viewed as a career threat, it can be repositioned to appeal to one’s love of learning and playing with new “toys”. In adopting new technologies, cost, technologies, people and culture matter. Positioning OSBI as providing value with respect to cost, technologies, people and culture will go a long way.

Oracle Berkeley DB

Are you wondering whatever happened to Sleepycat's Open Source software Berkeley DB developer database since Oracle's purchase ? It is now known as
Oracle Berkeley DB. It still has three flavors:

  • Berkeley DB: A transactional storage engine for un-typed data in basic key/value data structures
  • Berkeley DB Java Edition: A pure Java version of Berkeley DB optimized for the Java environment
  • Berkeley DB XML: A native XML database with XQuery-based access to documents stored in containers and indexed based on their content

It is still open source. Oracle has released it under a dual license. Check out Oracle Berkeley DB site for more information.

Justifying a BI System

Smaller Jotting BI JustificationIt is easy to make generalizations in justifying a Business Intelligence System. Commonly used are:
  • Saves money
  • Helps enterprise to be more competitive
  • Have informed decisions
  • Improve productivity
and many others.

To face the critics of your BI system, quantify and provide specifics for your statements. For example, instead of just saying, it saves money, illustrate how the BI system saves money. If the pain point of your organization, for instance, is that one does not have a central repository of customer information so it takes accounting X amount of time creating an invoice because each time an invoice is created, one has to create a spreadsheet, getting information from multiple sources. It is effective to show how saving the time of accounting and billing the customer faster provides X amount of savings per month. As part of your justification, provide an estimate for the potential increase in receivables per month then multiply by the monetary amount of the average customer transaction.

A BI system that is aligned with business objectives and is able to maintain its economic justification gets buy-in and continuous support from the enterprise.

Multidimensional Cube - Simple Explanation for Users

The concept of multidimensional cube is a good way to help users understand how they may want to query the multidimensional database or create OLAP reports. The dimensions of a cube are stored in a database table.

The data cube in the diagram below is composed of there dimensions: Customer, Product and Time.

Data Cube

This cube would allow query BY customer, BY time and BY product. Hence, sample query could be selecting a customer BY time and BY Product.

Additional dimensions (e.g. sales territory, sales person, etc) increase the size of the cube geometrically.

Archive of Open Source Business Intelligence Lens on Squidoo

In an effort to keep our Open Source Business Intelligence Lens on Squidoo current, we have removed some modules. Please see OSBI Archive on the TIAPress OSBI Wiki.

Thank you again for visiting our lens, blogs and wiki. &#59;D

Results of Open Source BI Survey of Christian Donner

We thank all our readers who have participated in the survey of Christian Donner . Christian Donner has posted the results of his survey.

Top answers from the results include:

Does your organization currently use any of the following
COMMERCIAL business intelligence tools?

Reporting (Q1A3) 84.62%

Does your organization currently use any of the following OPEN
SOURCE business intelligence tools?

None of the above (Q1aA5) 57.69%

Has your organization evaluated an Open Source business
intelligence product in the past 12 months?

None of the above (Q2A5) 53.85%

Are you currently in the process of implementing or planning to
implement any Open Source Business Intelligence

None of the above (Q3A5) 61.54%

If you are planning to implement Open Source Business Intelligence
products, will they replace any commercial BI products in your

Reporting (Q4A3) 19.23%end quotation

Commercial Spread Sheet Services

Pentaho and Simba Technologies announced today their Spreadsheet Service allowing Microsoft Office users to access Pentaho OLAP using Microsoft Excel's Pivot Tables. Under the terms of their agreement, Pentaho becomes the exclusive distributor of Simba’s Microsoft Excel connectivity technology for use with Mondrian, which will be delivered and branded as Pentaho Spreadsheet Services.

We're trying to get more information about this new service.

[Quick Update:] Lance Walter of Pentaho quickly responded to our request for more information, and provided a link from the Pentaho Analysis page to the Pentaho Spreadsheet Services FAQ.

Spreadsheet Services is basically a client-side library. It sits on the client machine, and translates ODBO calls from Excel’s PivotTable Service into XML/A calls that go to Pentaho Analysis Services / Mondrian. [Pentaho Spreadsheet Services] works with Mondrian “standalone” – meaning Mondrian deployed without any of the rest of the Pentaho platform. So if you’re an existing, happy Mondrian user and want to use Pentaho Spreadsheet Services, you don’t need to deploy or configure the Pentaho platform to use it.end quotation
-- From Lance Walter, VP Marketing, Pentaho

Commercial Open Source Appliance by Sun and Greenplum

The online article Sun and Greenplum Launch Commercial Open Source Data Warehouse Appliance for Business Intelligence by announced the use of Solaris 10 OS and Bizgres MPP "to deliver a turnkey appliance capable of analyzing hundreds of terabytes of business data at a better price-performance than virtually any product on the market". It sounds really neat (and we’d love to play with such an appliance &#59;D) but as I read the article, I couldn’t help but wonder if the market is ready for it. Yes, there is a lot of buzz about Open Source BI right now but are enterprises really investing on new infrastructure and technology?

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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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