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.