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Forrester Wave Categorizes OpenI as “Reporting Tool” – You Agree?

The Forrester Wave™: Open Source Business Intelligence (BI), Q3 201” report by Boris Evelson came out today (Aug 10, 2010), categorizing OpenI as a “Reporting Tool”

While we feel honored that Forrester took notice (last year they had pretty much called us “dead”), it is interesting to see that they see the Open Source BI land fragmented into different specialty components – “data integration” tools (which we’re guessing is the same as ETL), “data reporting” tools,  “advanced analytics” tools, and “geospatial analytics” tools. Only open source projects that qualify as comprehensive “BI Suite” are BEE, Jaspersoft, Pentaho, and SpagoBI.

And then further on, they say that — according to “Forrester’s 157-criteria evaluation of open source BI vendors, we found that Actuate BIRT led the pack because of richness of reporting functionality. Jaspersoft Enterprise, SpagoBI, Pentaho Enterprise, and Pentaho Community are close behind and also offer much fuller and broader BI stack than Actuate BIRT, including extract, transform, and load (ETL) and advanced analytics functionality.”

We’d love to see their what their 157 criteria are – but the full report costs US$1,749 – probably one of the few scenarios where a report on enterprise software costs more than most of the individual software licenses, but that’s open source for you.

So, what does it all mean? Well, for open source projects like OpenI, the Forrester Wave is a good place to get mentioned, because it will attract some new people to at least look at our software.  We’d beg to differ and state that we are more than just a “reporting tool”, but at the end of the day, that’s mostly just semantics. It probably benefits Actuate BIRT the most since it gets raving reviews over Pentaho and JasperSoft because of “richness of reporting functionality” (eye candy?), but Pentaho and JasperSoft can take a bit of comfort for being described as having “much fuller and broader BI stack than Actuate BIRT”.

However, a casual customer who is looking for a decent open source BI solution could care less for all this, because what they’d like to know is who can meet their requirements with the least amount of effort/cost and highest amount of reliability. Perhaps reports like these should also consider factors such as ease of adoption, TCO, support, license friendliness, and if there are any vertical solution packs offered on the open source stack, whether paid versions or not. One of the key strengths of any open source project is the community behind it, and what type of ecosystem it has been able to create where people in the community are building new solutions (plug-ins, extension components, etc.) and are really involved in advancing the platform as opposed to having all new development just coming from the open source company’s internal development team.

Ultimately, it’s not just Forrester report’s responsibility, but the onus is also on open source project/companies to make this transparent so that newcomers more or less know what they are getting into before investing a lot of time/energy, else we run the danger of having so much “markitechture”  in our home pages that IT organizations have no other option other than to read Forrester Wave to figure out their open source BI strategy.

OpenI Differentiators

We received some decent feedback in our discussion thread on OpenI’s future roadmap. Here’s one from “noblomov” that describes how OpenI is different from other open source BI tools and where we should focus next (we couldn’t have said it any better – so thanks!)

Hi Sandeep,
thanks for sharing with us what should be the future of Openi and giving us the opportunity to tell you and the Openi dev team what we like about Openi compared to other open source products out there, and what featuers we’d like to see in future versions.
For me there are various very interesting points about Openi compared to Pentaho :
  • Openi is pretty easy to install, where Pentaho isn’t as straightforward to my mind
  • Openi is very simple and “basic” : create reports and see them through Dashboards, where Pentaho is trying to do more things and as a result isn’t as easy to use for the end users
  • Openi offers a real BI SaaS platform, allowing several clients (different departments of the same enterprise, but also different companies) to connect to the same infrastructure, where Pentaho is a dedicated solution. This is for me the main advantage of Openi over other Open Source BI Solutions, and this is a big one.
The features I’d like to see on Openi 3.0 would mainly be :
  • allow finer control of users rights on a project. Today there are 3 users type : application admin, project admin, project user. It would be great to have optionnal settings on project admin for example, giving this profil the rights to create a limited number of accounts for its project. So an optional “accounts quota” setting would be nice.
  • As I see Openi as a great SaaS BI solution, it would be great to allow complete separation of different projects databases. Today to my knowledge the Projects in OpenI use different tables, but in the same database (same MySQL database for example). I would like to be able to define separate database for different projects, and then permit a total separation of projects datas (each project could have its own MySQL database). That would be a real plus in terms of scalability and security.
That’s my 2 cents for OpenI, which is a great BI tool.
By the way, is there any plan for a General Availability version for OpenI 2.0 ?

OpenI’s Future as a BI Platform vs a BI Application

A great question came up on OpenI forum from Andre, which I feel is important to share with all of you:

What new features that are planned for the Open? There is a forecast for the next version? What is the main advantage of the Openi on the Pentaho?

What new features that are planned for the Open? There is a forecast for the next version? What is the main advantage of the Openi on the Pentaho?



To which, my response is:

Hi Andre

Your message comes at an interesting and exciting time for us. You saw that most of 2009, we focused on tightening up the 2.0 release, which now is stable and we’ve gotten good feedback on. Now in 2010, we will continue with point releases on 2.0 with bug fixes and enhancements, and we’re also in midst of planning the road map for OpenI 3.0 and beyond.

Basically the big question for us is — is OpenI a BI platform, or more of a BI application? OpenI started back in 2005, right around the same time Pentaho and JasperSoft launched. While Pentaho, Jaspersoft, et al have done a great job in building out a robust BI platform, OpenI’s differentiator is that it strives to be BI application that a user can use right “out of the box” as opposed to an “SDK” on top of which a BI developer will build their BI application. Hence a lot of our work has gone towards making the installation increasingly easier, being able to just point to an OLAP data source and start publishing anlayses/dashboards without having to write code, supporting Microsoft Analysis services, etc.

However, all this requires a BI platform underneath, and to date, OpenI has built its own platform using the same “usual suspect” components (JPivot, Mondrian, etc.) that most other open source BI projects use. And now we’re asking ourselves if that isn’t re-inventing the wheel. Why take upon the development and maintenance of a BI platform (although using a lot of open source components) — when you can probably use an existing open source BI platform and focus more on your differentiators.

So the most likely outcome for 3.0 road map will be that we’ll use a comparable open source BI platform where we can not only migrate all of our key features of OpenI 2.0 and start focusing more on usability-related features. Sorry to be vague/high-level, but we will have a more elaborate design/roadmap published on our website soon that’ll describe these features and solicit your feedback.

Which means — a big part of all this is where our community will like to see OpenI go. So, your feedback, feature requests, or just general design guidelines are very important to us as we plan the road map for 2010

Thanks for the nudge on this very important issue, now we’ll have to work harder to publish our road map and clear up things for everyone 🙂


Project Lead, OpenI.Org