Review: Birst brings DIY to BI

With straightforward data access, automated modeling, and easy reporting tools, cloud-based Birst Enterprise is the data warehouse for the rest of us

At a Glance
  • Birst Enterprise Edition 5.13

Birst Enterprise Edition

We're all aware knowledge is power and time is money. But for many of us -- particularly small businesses and departments without dedicated IT support -- the leap from static reports of yesterday's news to deep, analysis-driven insight might as well be a leap across the Grand Canyon.

Birst helps fill that analytics gap with a cloud-based BI suite, Birst Enterprise Edition. With Birst you really can create data warehouses in the cloud in minutes, slice your data into multidimensional drill paths, and display actionable reports and browser-based KPI dashboards with ease.

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The simplicity of Birst stands in contrast to competitors such as GoodData. Although GoodData's developer-centric IDE delivers powerful features for data massaging and transformation capabilities, the power comes at the expense of complexity.

Birst provides an automated toolset that lets ordinary business people do what developers or data analysts have long labored over using traditional BI tools. Although a complicated knitting of multiple data sources will still require traditional data wrangling expertise, Birst's wizardry is more than sufficient for a broad swath of use cases.

On the flip side, Birst offers none of the advanced formula syntax you'll find in SiSense or the interactive charting you get in QlikView, and it's light on predictive analytics and forecasting. At times, Birst's Flash-based interface can feel sluggish.

But Birst flat out excels at tapping data from a broad range of sources -- relational databases, Hadoop/Hive, SAP, Excel files, and cloud-based apps, including Salesforce, NetSuite, Google Analytics, and Marketo -- and at guiding business users to swiftly unlock the wealth of information in that data with minimal expertise.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Features (40%)
Ease of use (30%)
Administration (10%)
Setup (10%)
Value (10%)
Overall Score
Birst Enterprise Edition 5.13 8 9 8 9 8 8.4
At a Glance
  • Cloud-based Birst really does bring advanced analytics to business users.

    Pros

    • Easy setup
    • Good data source management
    • Data loading and modeling accessible to nontechnical users
    • Easy, drag-and-drop data visualizations and reporting
    • Good support

    Cons

    • Limited forecasting tools
    • Browser and iPad access only; no rich client for the desktop
    • No support for NoSQL data sources
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