BI just may be poised to become the next big piece of the open source puzzle.
On Monday two startups sharing a similar focus introduced themselves to the open source community and brought forth tools for reporting and data warehousing.
The benefits of open source BI tools include reduced costs and a new level of practicability for spreading BI functionality to a greater number of corporate users -- if only because IT doesn't have to pay the license fees associated with proprietary reporting tools to do so.
Both companies claim to ease the painful process of locating and accessing information, but each takes a different approach and, as such, serves a different BI purpose.
Bringing reporting to the fore, JasperSoft announced JasperReports and JasperDecisions. The one-two punch combines the commercial, embeddable reporting server, JasperDecisions, with the open source reporting tool, JasperReports. JasperSoft CEO Paul Doscher said the company will provide support services and reporting on par with Business Objects and Cognos but at a fraction of the price.
The basic idea is that customers will buy the server and can then extend the front-end reporting tool to as many users as is necessary.
Both JasperSoft products are available immediately. Barry Klawans, JasperSoft CTO, said the plan includes adding charts, cross-tabs, and improving the HTML output by year's end.
The company partnered with JBoss and MySQL, and JasperSoft hopes to leverage the open source community at large.
"You have this community and people who know you want them to contribute. That's part of our plan," Doscher said.
JasperSoft also will sell support and services; its highest level runs $14,999.
"Over time, we believe the majority of our revenue will come from support," Doscher said.
Startup Greenplum also hurled itself into the open source fray on Monday, when it unwrapped the open source project Bizgres, an open source database server tuned for data warehousing called DeepGreen, and the commercial DeepGreen MPP (Massively Parallel Processing), slated to be generally available this summer.
"The business we're in is data exploration," said Sam Mohamad, Greenplum CEO. "Our goal is to relieve the pain and expense of finding information."
Whereas JasperSoft competes with the reporting bigwigs, however, Greenplum is complimentary. "It's our software that makes sure those tools perform well," said CTO Luke Lonergan.
Greenplum's products use Massively Parallel Processing to achieve what the company calls "Super Warehousing."
Cost-reduction results from the open source software are not being tied to any proprietary hardware. As a result, customers can use commodity servers to run DeepGreen, rather than buying fixed function appliances, such as Netezza.
Last month, meanwhile, the Eclipse Foundation announced that BIRT 1.0 (BI Reporting and Tools) will be available in the first half of this year, and that the modules of BIRT under development are available for download now.
Not everyone sees the current crop of BI tools spreading like a forest fire, however.