Untitled Document

This is the first of ebizQ's Open Source Software (OSS) “Applications” series, a parallel to the "OSS Mid-stack Software" series that has been running since July 2007. The “Applications” series will look at the importance of applications to the growth of OSS within the software market; this article looks specifically at business intelligence functionality.



There are two interesting megatrends at work in the business intelligence (BI) application market. The number of standalone suppliers of "closed-source" BI software is shrinking rapidly as the largest software suppliers (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP) continue their acquisition binges. At the same time, users—both application developers and end users such as business analysts and line managers—have an increasing selection of open source BI software.

The two trends are not necessarily related but there seems to be a pattern in them:

  • Open source software (OSS) could be setting the agenda for the BI applications area (forcing the consolidation and leaving the few remaining pure-play commercial BI application providers unsure of where they fit in the mix).
  • Developers—ISVs and in-house alike—as well as end users that feel pure-play BI is the way to go may need to go the OSS route as well (whether or not they like the OSS license/distribution covenants).

OSS BI Applications

OSS BI applications include a wide group of BI types from extraction/transform/load (ETL)-based software to rules-based BI applications to true power-user-oriented analytics to suites that put all of these functions and more together with business process management (BPM) features (see illustration).

OSS suppliers specializing in or exclusively promoting BI include Jaspersoft, Kettle/Mondrian/Pentaho, Open Rules, and Spago [from Engineering Ingegneria Informatica (EII) S.p.A of Italy]. Another dozen OSS community organizations including the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) and OW2 are nibbling around the edges of BI applications in one way or the other. Similarly, pure-play "closed source" BI application providers such as Actuate continue to offer a portfolio of traditionally licensed and IP-restricted BI products to meet packaged enterprise reporting, performance management and other analytical needs. But Actuate has turned over its BI toolsets to the OSS Eclipse Foundation. In October 2007, another pure-play, Cognos, followed the large software suppliers’ lead by acquiring competitor Applix. But many analysts feel Cognos is next in line for takeover.

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