Open-source development is having a significant impact on business intelligence. Among the vendors that have adopted open-source technology within their products in a big way are Actuate, Pentaho and JasperSoft.Actuate in conjunction with The Eclipse Foundation is leading the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) initiative, and this week announced product upgrades centered around the technology. Pentaho and JasperSoft, on the other hand, have gone further, and are building broader BI application frameworks.
The Eclipse Foundation released this week 7 million lines of code comprising upgrades for 10 open-source projects. The code release is part of an initiative, code-named Callisto, to synchronize version compatibilities for each of the projects.
The upgrades include BIRT, a modeling framework, a Web tools platform, visual editor, test and performance tools, and C and C++ development tools for the Eclipse integrated development environment. The latter IDE is what Pentaho used to build a BI stack that included reporting, OLAP analysis, data mining, dashboards and workflow capabilities.
But companies planning to invest in open-source BI systems should be cautious. Critics say that vendors could use the license-free technology to attract customers, and then gradually lock them in with proprietary modules built on top of the platforms. That, however, may not be a bad thing, since the lower initial cost could give corporate customers a good opportunity to kick the tires before making a commitment.
But no matter how companies choose to approach open-source BI, the technology is making an impact that will be felt in the market for years to come.
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Meanwhile, readers in an unscientific Business Intelligence Pipeline poll leaned toward believing pure-play BI vendors could compete head-to-head against Microsoft. Fully, 49 percent of respondents said BI vendors could take on the software giant, while 45 percent said they would be pushed into niche markets. The remaining respondents had no opinion.