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Open source BI tool to target enterprise customers

Posted by inet - 2006-04-09

The open source software model will continue its assault on traditional applications deployed by the enterprise when Pentaho unveils Business Intelligence Professional Edition Platform next week.
The Professional Edition is the latest version from the company that previously offered Pentaho BI Project.

Founded by BI veterans from IBM, Cognos, and Hyperion, Pentaho executives are claiming that the Professional edition is as good as -- if not better -- than current packaged applications from the BI market leaders.

"We don't want to be judged as an open source company but as a BI application provider," said Lance Walter, vice president of marketing at Pentaho.

Part of that claim rests on the fact that typical BI tools integrate at the data level and at the user interface level as a frame in the application or the portal, according to Walter. But Pentaho has a workflow engine in its platform that understands the BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) standard.

"We can now integrate at the process level, so whatever business rules are controlling the rest of the process can control Pentaho and add the BI value into those business processes with far less effort than traditional approaches," said Walter.

Despite the BPEL capability, Josh Greenbaum, principal analyst with Enterprise Applications Consulting, was not impressed.

"To say, ‘We integrate with BPEL,’ which very few companies use or know how to use, is like saying I have a car that can leave Earth orbit," said Greenbaum, adding, "Now you have to ask, ‘Why would you want to do that?’"

According to Greenbaum, being BPEL savvy is a good idea, but not in 2006.

"If I really need it, Oracle or anyone else can give me the workflow integration that I need without building BPEL into my BI infrastructure," said Greenbaum, calling it a great [news] hook, but not what is going to sell the product.

Pentaho also expanded on the reporting functions found in its original offering and now includes analysis and dashboards, plus the ability to work in a clustered architecture.

However, the enterprise edition does come at a price to its open source roots. Walter said a small part of the code in the new package is not open source.

"About 10 percent of the functionality is not available as open source," said Walter.

Most of the proprietary code is around administration and deployment. The only end-user part of the Professional edition that is proprietary is a feature around deployment of self-service subscriptions for accessing reports, according to Walter.

Pentaho BI Professional Edition Platform will ship later this month and be priced at $3,000 per CPU, plus an additional annual support fee of $1,000.

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