The Race Toward Pervasive BI

Michael Vizard

Business intelligence vendors tend to agree that BI software ultimately needs to be pervasive. That means users need easy access to it through a stand-alone tool or embedded inside an application. However, they can't agree on the best way to achieve those goals.

Pentaho CEO Richard Daley is pretty convinced that as a leading provider of open source BI software, his company has the inside track. Not only can users access Pentaho software on premise or as a service, but the company has developed a developer ecosystem around its software that is embedding Pentaho BI code in a host of third-party applications.

Pentaho is locked in a battle for open source BI supremacy with Jaspersoft, which Daley says is really designed for running reports, as opposed to full-fledged business analytics, and that it relies on a third-party data-integration platform. A recent survey conducted by B Eye Network involving more than 1,000 respondents from around the globe found that only 12 percent said they had no plans to use open source software in some form for business intelligence applications or data warehouses.

Regardless of the approach, companies such as IBM and SAP are pursuing similar pervasive approaches to BI. But given the inherent economics of open source, it would seem that vendors such as Pentaho and Jaspersoft will achieve a greater degree of pervasiveness than IBM or SAP, both of which appear to be trying to pull BI software along with larger investments in ERP suites and business-process-management software.

Daley counters that what business customers really want is a more agile approach to BI that reflects the agility they want to inject into not only IT, but the entire business. Given the number of newfound adherents for open source BI, his point appears to be taken.

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