Pentaho Open-Source BI Release Is Meant for Customers

The release is more than just an upgrade; it marks the company's entrée into corporate accounts.

After 11 months in development with the latest iteration of its software, open-source business intelligence software company Pentaho announced the 1.6 version of its namesake Open BI Suite. While a point release, the upgraded version is really the companys entrée into corporate accounts, according to analysts.

The updated suite offers two new components: a BI metadata layer that lets IT develop intelligence road maps that business users can then utilize to build reports; and a thin-client AJAX-based reporting interface that lets those same business users create ad hoc queries and reports—without direct input from IT.

Wayne Eckerson, director of research at The Data Warehousing Institute, said that Pentahos metadata layer is really a badge of maturity for the company. "Really to make a dent in the user market you have to have a metadata layer that users can work from, instead of going against cables and columns," in the database, Eckerson said. "This marks a turning point for Pentaho where [their software] is more user friendly and not just developer friendly."


To read about Pentahos addition of AJAX into its open-source BI tools, click here.

A centralized metadata layer basically allows IT to create reusable business definitions for business user reporting, according to Pentaho officials. It also allows IT to centrally manage global metadata, including the ability to simplify multi-lingual deployments through central definitions of things like customer, sales or region. The metadata layer itself has been designed around the Common Warehouse Metamodel specification from the Object Management Group—a spec thats supported by bigger, more established software vendors like Oracle and Informatica.

While the open source BI sector is still nascent, though growing in the overall BI market, the movement could get a boost with recent consolidation—particularly in those scenarios where a big software vendor like SAP doesnt fit the bill in a companys IT environment, according to analysts.

SAP announced Oct. 8 that it will acquire Business Objects for $6.8 billion (Business Objects had itself acquired eight companies since 2005 including Inxight Software, Cartesis, nSite, ALG Software, Firstlogic, Infommersion, Medience and SRC). Oracle also made a big splash buy in the BI space, acquiring Hyperion in February for $3.3 billion.

"Where opportunities for Pentaho and other open source vendors will come from is with companies that arent aligned [with a major ERP vendor] to be a match for their needs," said Aberdeen Group analyst David Hatch. "If they have a combination of SAP and many other sources [of data] then theyre looking for a match thats fairly customized. If they have an IT team thats capable of taking on open-source software, thats probably going to be where that [open source] will fit in."


Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.