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10/9/2007
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Pentaho Releases Open Source BI Software Upgrade

Improvements include a centralized metadata layer for easier IT management, and a thin-client interface that makes BI available to more types of users.

Demand for business intelligence software is growing, yet cost is the top barrier to entry. A company called Pentaho says it's got the answer: Open source BI.

The three-year-old company Tuesday released an upgrade to its software, called Pentaho Open BI Suite 1.6. Improvements include a centralized metadata layer for easier IT management, and a thin-client interface that makes BI available to more types of users, said Pentaho. And, as with earlier versions, there is no license fee for the open-source software.

Pentaho VP of marketing Lance Walter claims that businesses using Pentaho can reduce their implementation fees by 90% compared with a traditional BI offering. The company makes its money primarily from its yearly subscription price.

Walter, who used to work for a traditional BI vendor, says that licensed BI typically runs about $1,000 to $1,500 per seat. A typical Pentaho subscription with a 4 CPU server, he says, is $12,000 and can support hundreds of users. It includes support services and -- for those concerned about open-source legal skirmishes -- indemnification from intellectual properly claims.

The company's customers include the Expedia, Frontier Airlines, Loma Linda Univeristy, Orbitz Travel, and the University of Montreal. "We're at a good point where the customer proof points are practically coming out of the woodwork," Walter said. The company has gone through two rounds of venture funding totaling $15 million. Open-source BI is still a relatively new concept, but there are others doing it, such as a company called JasperSoft.

New to Pentaho 1.6 is a centralized metadata layer that allows IT professionals to create and manage business definitions for users in different areas, such as customer relations or sales, while preventing users from having to deal with the complexities of corporate applications and databases, said Pentaho. The metadata layer also makes it easier to support multilingual deployments of BI by allowing administrators to centrally define multiple translations for business terms such as "customers," "sales," or "regions."

The open source metadata layer in Pentaho 1.6 has been designed around the Common Warehouse Metamodel specification as defined and maintained by the Object Management Group.

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