Show Your Support for OpenI on Facebook

Gone are the days when Linus Torvalds could post on a bbs about his open source project and the entire world would flock there.  In this day and age, you need Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and who knows what else is coming down the pipeline

So — dear OpenI community — to get things started, we now have a Facebook page.

If you are already on Facebook, please show your support for OpenI by becoming a “fan” of this page, and invite your “friends” to do the same (as long as they dabble in software and can spell “BI” correctly and not confuse it for animal body parts)

Thanks for sharing the love,

Sandeep

How is OpenI Different from JPivot?

Last week during a client meeting to evaluate a new project, a question came up — “If JPivot does all the MDX generation/parsing,   provides the UI components for charts and grahps and tables — what is it that OpenI does that’s different from JPivot?”

A legitimate question indeed.

First off — this is not attempt to trivialize what JPivot does. We wouldn’t be here without JPivot – period.  This post is more about what OpenI does to improve certain JPivot functionality and what OpenI adds in terms of its own features to deliver OpenI as a complete web application.  Here’s my assessment:

JPivot is a component (JAR file), OpenI is a complete deployable web application (WAR). JPivot is one of the many components that OpenI uses
JPivot provides the following key features
o UI components for tables and charts using OLAP data, and specifying reporting parameters
o MDX query generation based on UI events like drill up/down, filter, sort, etc.
o Representing the results from an OLAP server in an object model
OpenI makes the following significant improvements to JPivot
o JPivot is built for open source OLAP server Mondrian. It CAN NOT communicate with Microsoft OLAP server out-of-the-box. OpenI extends JPivot to enable this feature.
o JPivot’s native UI is not so clean and pretty archaic (See screenshots here – http://jpivot.sourceforge.net/temp-N101F1.html). OpenI improves on this quite a bit (see OpenI screenshots here – http://sourceforge.net/project/screenshots.php?group_id=142873)
OpenI adds following key features for a complete BI app that are not in JPivot
o Security – either via its own user management, or by integrating to existing OLAP or custom authentication. Enabling restrictions to analyses based on user permissions
o Dashboard – Jpivot doesn’t have one, OpenI has complete dashboard creation and management
o Create/Save reports– Jpivot doesn’t have a way to persist reports. OpenI provides a well defined XML structure (.analysis files) that works as a report definition language (RDL) to save and manage reports. Also supports the notion of public vs private reports
o Navigation – OpenI provides a full file-explorer like UI to navigate through multiple analyses and manage them in folders
o Report customization by dragging/dropping attributes to columns, rows, and filters
o Tabbed view of tables and charts
o Provides results of an OLAP drillthrough as a text file dump (JPivot can’t), or publish result set to a custom web API
o Explore data feature – lets you “eyeball” data in a cube without having to create individual reports, very handy for exploratory analysis
o Concept of “projects” to enable multi-tenant reporting, i.e. same application can serve multiple clients. Responsys leverages this to have multiple client accounts served separately from a single web application instance
o Administration UI to manage accounts, application, data sources, and many other tasks that you’d otherwise have to do by hand-editing a configuration file
  • JPivot is a component (JAR file) that you can embed in a J2EE application, OpenI is a complete deployable web application (WAR). JPivot is one of the many components that OpenI uses
  • JPivot provides the following key features:
    • UI components for tables and charts using OLAP data, and specifying reporting parameters
    • MDX query generation based on UI events like drill up/down, filter, sort, etc.
    • Representing the results from an OLAP server in an object model
  • OpenI makes the following significant improvements to JPivot
    • JPivot is built for open source OLAP server Mondrian. It CAN NOT communicate with Microsoft OLAP server out-of-the-box. OpenI extends JPivot to enable this feature so users can report on data from both Microsoft Analysis Services (all 3 versions – 2000, 2005, and 2008)
  • OpenI adds following key features for a complete BI app that are not in JPivot
    • Security – either via its own user management, or by integrating to existing OLAP or custom authentication. Enabling restrictions to analyses based on user permissions
    • Dashboard – Jpivot doesn’t have one, OpenI has complete dashboard creation and management
    • Create/Save reports– Jpivot doesn’t have a way to persist reports. OpenI provides a well defined XML structure (.analysis files) that works as a report definition language (RDL) to save and manage reports. Also supports the notion of public vs private reports
    • Navigation – OpenI provides a full file-explorer like UI to navigate through multiple analyses and manage them in folders
    • Report customization by dragging/dropping attributes to columns, rows, and filters
    • Tabbed view of tables and charts
    • Provides results of an OLAP drillthrough as a text file dump (JPivot can’t), or publish result set to a custom web API
    • Explore data feature – lets you “eyeball” data in a cube without having to create individual reports, very handy for exploratory analysis
    • Concept of “projects” to enable multi-tenant reporting, i.e. same application can serve multiple clients. An on-demand  can leverages this to have multiple client accounts served separately from a single web application instance
    • Administration UI to manage accounts, application, data sources, and many other tasks that you’d otherwise have to do by hand-editing a configuration file
While thinking about JPivot, it is important to realize it is performing 2 key, yet different, aspects of dealing with OLAP data – one is UI, and the other more understated part is the bit about MDX generation, parsing, and providing an object model for OLAP result set. If you look at how JasperReports and Pentaho deal with OLAP data, they leverage JPivot as well. This poses a problem that if we want to improve or replace our UI layer with something else, it is not as clear cut since the layers are not clearly separated. Ideally, we would like to have the option of replacing the UI portion of JPivot, while preserving its MDX generation/parsing features.
Julian Hyde, the project lead of Mondrian project, has started a new project Olap4J that builds on this concept, so that could be the next step in this evolution, which we are considering as we plan the roadmap for OpenI 3.0. Stay tuned for more on that.
Sandeep

OpenI Goes Commercial

This week I completed my tenure as an employee at Responsys and started my new venture OpenI — a company that provides open source business intelligence software and services to businesses that want to be data-driven in their operational strategy.
I guess you can call me a serial entrepreneur now, since OpenI will be my fourth startup — last one being Loyalty Matrix, which was acquired by Responsys in 2007. I am happy to say that the marketing analytics technology we built at Loyalty Matrix found a way to express itself as Responsys’s own analytics product Interact Insight. It was interesting to see the formal structures it requires in a more established company to release a product — valuable lessons that I’ll surely apply in future product releases. It is also great that Responsys will remain a client of OpenI, so that we can advance this technology in a mutually beneficial fashion (and also that OpenI has a few clients from the get go :-).
OpenI will partner with Codemandu, a software development company in Kathmandu, Nepal that has provided the engineering help for OpenI in the past. Codemandu will help us deliver support and integration work for our clients. So — if you have software projects in business intelligence, reporting, and/or analytics (or know of someone who does) — we are here for you :-) Basically, if you are an on-demand company that stores transactional data for your customers, we can help you build an on-demand analytics product based on OpenI — something you can private-label and up-sell to your customers.
So, needless to say — next couple of months are going to be crazy, and pretty exciting. Personally, I have a lot of pent-up ideas on making BI more accessible and actionable, and we will be toying around with these ideas in OpenI. And given the nature of open source, these experimentations will happen in public domain — and so you’ll see some fun stuff appear on this blog and OpenI site.
The BI landscape has definitely evolved since OpenI started back in 2005. Most of the big guys (Busienss Objects, Hyperion, Cognos, SPSS) have been acquired by even bigger guys (SAP, Oracle, IBM). On the open source BI side, Pentaho and JasperSoft have done a remarkable job in leading the sector. Plus there has been a great deal of movement in on-demand BI as well – with Swivel, GoodData, and PivotLink, and also at desktop level with Tableau. We will definitely give our best shot to stand on the shoulders of these giants and raise the bar a bit differently.
I recall Sting (lead singer of The Police, for the benefit of our younger readers) say this in a Rolling Stone interview once when asked about his unique singing voice — something like “Nobody can sing like me — I’m not saying that I have the best voice in Rock ‘n Roll, it’s more like someone can sing better or worse, but they can’t sing exactly like me”
So, this I can say — OpenI will be unique in its approach to BI. Stay tuned..
cheers,
Sandeep

Dear OpenI Community:

I am very happy to announce that we are finally forming an official commercial structure around OpenI to provide license, support, and integration services.

OpenI will still remain fully open source, and this site and the related platform at sourceforge.net will continue to function just the same way they have always functioned. However, for those businesses and organizations that need a commercial support structure and/or need a dedicated team to work on integrating or customizing OpenI for their internal projects or product development, this commercial structure enables us to provide such services.

Plus it enables those of us who have worked on this project since its inception a way to make a living doing what we love.

When we started this open source project back in 2005, we couldn’t have guessed where we are today. We started OpenI as an open source project at my last company Loyalty Matrix, where we built a commercial marketing analtyics product on top of OpenI. Loyalty Matrix was acquired by Responsys in 2007. I am happy to say that the marketing analytics technology we built at Loyalty Matrix found a way to express itself as Responsys’s own analytics product Interact Insight. It was interesting to see the formal structures it requires in a more established company to release a product — valuable lessons that I’ll surely apply in future product releases. It is also great that Responsys will remain a client of OpenI, so that we can advance this technology in a mutually beneficial fashion (and also that OpenI has a few clients from the get go :- ).

OpenI will partner with Codemandu, a software development company in Kathmandu, Nepal that has provided the engineering help for OpenI to-date. Codemandu will help us deliver support and integration work for our clients. So — if you have software projects in business intelligence, reporting, and/or analytics (or know of someone who does) — we are here for you :- ) Basically, if you are an on-demand company that stores transactional data for your customers, we can help you build an on-demand analytics product based on OpenI — something you can private-label and up-sell to your customers.

So, needless to say — next couple of months are going to be crazy, and pretty exciting. Personally, I have a lot of pent-up ideas on making BI more accessible and actionable, and we will be toying around with these ideas in OpenI. And given the nature of open source, these experimentations will happen in public domain — and so you’ll keep seeing some fun new stuff appear on this site.

The BI landscape has definitely evolved since OpenI started back in 2005. Most of the big guys (Busienss Objects, Hyperion, Cognos, SPSS) have been acquired by even bigger guys (SAP, Oracle, IBM). On the open source BI side, Pentaho and JasperSoft have done a remarkable job in leading the sector. Plus there has been a great deal of movement in on-demand BI as well – with Swivel, GoodData, and PivotLink, and also at desktop level with Tableau. We will definitely give our best shot to stand on the shoulders of these giants and raise the bar a bit differently.

I recall Sting (lead singer of The Police, for the benefit of our younger readers) say this in a Rolling Stone interview once when asked about his unique singing voice — something like “Nobody can sing like me — I’m not saying that I have the best voice in Rock ‘n Roll, it’s more like someone can sing better or worse, but they can’t sing exactly like me”

So, this I can say — OpenI will be unique in its approach to BI. Stay tuned..

cheers,

Sandeep
Project Lead, OpenI.Org