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Leveraging Information and Intelligence

David Linthicum

Why BI Consultants Don't Get Open Source BI

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Ann All provides some great insights into the fact that "Consultants Are Laggards on Open Source Business Intelligence."    

"Business intelligence and open source are both pretty hot topics in the enterprise software space and open source BI vendors like Jaspersoft have been earning a fair amount of ink in the trade press, so it's a bit surprising that there's a dearth of research on open source BI."

It's not surprising to me.   Indeed, as Ann outlined there is a "''big gap' in availability of consultants versed in open source BI. Smaller companies often install and maintain their own open source BI applications and tools because they lack the money to hire outside help. Enterprises do it because they often possess the appropriate internal resources."

Going further than that I would also say that consultants are typically too busy to look at all existing open source solutions, suggesting more traditional proprietary players that they may have leveraged before.     Moreover, even if they do know about the open source players the consultants are often hesitant to suggest them considering that they typically don't have the brand names of the closed source BI technologies.   Finally, consultants typically want to leverage technology they know, thus not requiring training or another learning curve.  

Also, and while not always the case, there are partnerships between the major closed source BI players and the consulting firms.  Thus, money flows towards the consultants once deals are established.    The open source BI players are typically not capitalized well enough to maintain such program, and provide payola.

So, what can you do?   If you're leveraging a consulting firm, insist on them looking at all available BI tools, including open source.   Moreover, if you see existing BI players on their Web site as a strategic partner, then don't use that firm at all.   They won't be objective.   If you're a consultant, open up your mind and consider all solutions, not just the ones you know.   You may be fitting a square peg in a round hole, and that's no good for your client.        

3 Comments

"Going further than that I would also say that consultants are typically too busy to look at all existing open source solutions"

It's a consultant's job, IMHO, to spend the time examining his "ecosystem" -- any BI consultant who has not done so for OSS would be remiss I would think.

"Moreover, if you see existing BI players on their Web site as a strategic partner, then don't use that firm at all."
I think you're a little quick to dismiss in this case. Just because they have official partnerships with I vendors doesnt automatically make them either biased or unusable. Too quick to generalize in this case I'm afraid. Unless you had specific examples/experiences you can share? Just making the blanket statement "they wont be objective" seems a little rash to me.

Well, this is changing and will change further once Open Source BI reaches that maturity level (Compared to closed source products).

In recent months at Bizsensors we have seen a very trend where customers are directly getting in touch with us and advising their consultants to look at open source alternatives.

I believe BI in the cloud (private or public) will accelerate the acceptance of Open Source BI and will attract the consultants - unless they are being paid to lean towards a particular product :-)

I agree with Dave especially on the way consultants propose solutions to business needs. In our shop we have all name close source BI vendors BO, Cognos, QlikView, Siebel Analytics and one close source Bi Jaspersoft. I take credit for open source as I insisted on this as David mentioned and had to put my neck on chopping block to go against consult/vendor recommendation. Now can anyone explain why we had such a range of same functioning BI tools within an enterprise? I am not blaming consultants for everything but the general perception being circulated by consultant is open source is not as well supported as close source vendors is or it is more a less for small scale or startup companies, or is it not for enterprise etc

I believe that consultants recommend tools because:
a) Very familiar with the tool.
b) They have trained staff in their skill pool they can easily offer as service to customer at additional cost!
c) They have vested interest in promoting a close source product because they are premium partners.
d) As David says "consultants are typically too busy to look at all existing open source solutions, suggesting more traditional proprietary players that they may have leveraged before."

I have worked in both consultant and non-consultant capacity in the past. My only recommendation as David say insist on consultant to consider in their solution proposal open source options and present why one close source BI tool is recommend, how does that fit the business need, why should one pay more money in buying close source tool and what is the operational cost of such tool over the life of the solution. On consultant I would say keep customer need the primary goal (cost, req, long-term) in mind and be fair to all tool vendors.

Industry expert Dave Linthicum tells you what you need to know about building efficiency into the information management infrastructure

David Linthicum

David Linthicum is the CTO of Blue Mountain Labs, and an internationally known distributed computing and application integration expert. View more

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