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JasperSoft Brings Open Source Platform To Business Intelligence

Posted by iTech - 2006-04-29

JasperSoft Corp. on Monday unveiled its open-source business intelligence architecture, and started shipping a new server for building customized reports for any department within a company.
The JasperServer is the first component unveiled as part of the architecture, which builds off of the company's reporting software called JasperReports. The product was an open-source project until last year when JasperSoft bought its trademark and copyrights.

The San Francisco-based company said the new server is the first of what will become a full suite of business intelligence applications, Paul Doscher, chief executive of JasperSoft, said.

In the next 45 days, JasperSoft plans to launch JasperAnalytics, online analytical processing tools for slicing and dicing sales and financial information stored in data warehouses. Later in the year, the company is set to release Jasper ETL, integration tools for moving information from multiple databases into a data warehouse, and formatting the data so it can be analyzed.

JasperSoft, along with rivals Cognos Inc., Business Objects S.A. and Hyperion Solutions Corp., builds reporting and analytical software meant to run across business applications bought from other vendors. While its larger rivals focus on meeting the needs of upper executives, business analysts and other "power users" within large companies, JasperSoft is looking to provide organizations with tools that enable them to customize reports for all workers within sales and financial departments, Doscher said.

"We're trying to focus on Sally in accounting," he said.

Other vendors, however, are making moves to head downstream in an organization. Canadian company Cognos, for example, announced last week a partnership with IBM and Google Inc. that will allow Cognos to tap their enterprise search engines for delivering reports and analytics stored in Cognos business intelligence applications. Using a common search engine to access information should make it easier to find by more corporate employees, Cognos officials say.

JasperSoft's strategy is to provide in JasperServer the tools developers need to customize reports for specific user groups, delivering only the data needed. The server, which is based on Java, also includes authentication features to make sure people see only the data they are authorized to see.

Before the new server, JasperReports, which is also based on Java, had to be embedded in a business application in order to access and process data. Providing a separate server adds flexibility in customization, Doscher said.

"We're bringing a new level of reporting and analytics to people who didn't have it before," Doscher said.

The biggest threat to JasperSoft and other pure-play business intelligence vendors is Microsoft Corp.'s recent acquisition of long-time BI partner ProClarity. While lagging in the market before, the purchase of ProClarity moved the software behemoth into the ranks of business intelligence suite vendors, which is where JasperSoft is heading.

Doscher, however, said Microsoft has yet to release a product roadmap for ProClarity, so the market impact remains uncertain.

"The jury is still out on what Microsoft is going to do with ProClarity," Doscher said.

In the meantime, JasperSoft is banking that its open-source model will make its products more attractive to price-conscious companies. Because its products are sold under the open-source GNU General Public License, they're available at no charge. Customers, however, do need to obtain a commercial license for the JasperServer. With the license, they can embed the software in commercial applications without having to release their proprietary source code to the open source community, Doscher said.

While there's no charge for the software, JasperSoft does offer service and support packages, including basic support for $299 per incident, or a platinum level that includes 24-hour support and guaranteed response times for prices ranging from $15,000 to $20,000 annually.

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