Software // Information Management
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8/10/2008
08:36 PM
Mark Smith
Mark Smith
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Actuate Integrates Open Source, Courts BI Developers

I attended the Actuate user conference last week where they brought forward a series of new advancements utilizing open source and new platform capabilities... Actuate is extending support for Rich Internet Applications as the need for information across businesses and to consumers requires very scalable platforms...

I attended the Actuate user conference last week where they brought forward a series of new advancements utilizing open source and new platform capabilities. Actuate's upgraded performance management applications and advancements in mobility further extend their use. Actuate is well known to larger corporations for vast deployments of reporting and information to the enterprise and across the Internet to customers and suppliers. Actuate has been recently shifting away from direct engagement in traditional BI market of query, reporting and analysis to data warehouses and instead extending their support of developers through open source and Internet/Intranet type applications. Actuate is extending support for Rich Internet Applications as the need for information across business and to consumers requires very scalable platforms that integrate across the enterprise.

Actuate also entered into the open source market in 2005 with BIRT (BI and Reporting Tools) contribution to Eclipse and their open source BIRT community. Actuate has bet that the use of open source will be a key component for their future and starting point for developers, where at some point will purchase support, services and then the more robust commercial products. In fact, Actuate open source efforts now contribute 10% of Actuate revenue. This open-source-based approach to commercial enterprise software expands Actuate's reach across the world and deepens relationships with developers. The benefit for developers is that it is easier to download and work with their basic products before determining what is needed for deployments that require support, services or higher-end technology.Actuate has advanced its main commercial product, now Actuate 10, which brings new interactive user capabilities to the platform. It uses technology now integrated with BIRT, like Ajax and an Adobe Flash object library with charts and gadgets, page-level security and Web application interfaces like JavaScript that help develop Web mashup type applications that operate as Rich Internet Applications. In addition, they've made advancements with e.Reports, e.Spreadsheet and designers that now support Microsoft Excel 2007 more readily and deliver output functionality to Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). A new intuitive chart and query builder simplifies the platform for interactive needs of business users, analysts and developers. Actuate is taking the right steps to improve the usability of Actuate 10, using more progressive Web 2.0 capabilities while continuing to make the platform as robust as possible for developers.

In the area of performance management, following the acquisition of PerformanceSoft in 2006, Actuate is advancing the Views product with version 8. Utilizing BIRT and the advancements in visualization, reporting and spreadsheet capabilities are used to advance the capabilities of Views. The vendor is leveraging the core Actuate platform to provide more capabilities along with supporting platforms such as Microsoft Vista and Microsoft SQL Server. The PerformanceSoft acquisition has been a difficult balance, as investing into the developer and IT markets is completely different than servicing into business for performance management.

Actuate also made a crucial step forward in making information from Actuate and BIRT more readily available across mobile devices. Research in Motion (RIM), the provider of the BlackBerry, was a major sponsor of the Actuate conference. The BlackBerry is now easily integrated with Actuate to the platform through mobile software integration technology. Actuate jointly developed Actuate Mobile with partner Webalo, which provided the mobile dashboard product. Actuate Mobile provides a bridge for information from Actuate to be more easily mapped to a variety of mobile devices including BlackBerry, Microsoft Windows Mobile and Apple iPhone. Mobile support was previously absent from Actuate's portfolio, so this is a step in the right direction. Further investments and integrations with mobile technology, along with demonstrations, are critical for further adoption and validation of Actuate mobile efforts.

Actuate is stepping forward confidently integrating open source BIRT into the company's core technology. They are also working to expand their business presence in performance management, with Views, into operations and finance management while also advancing their mobility capabilities and extending information delivery to more consumers. This is not an easy set of tasks for a company that has survived the vendor consolidation in the BI market with their unique and distinguishing broad deployments extending outside of the enterprise.

Actuate has many competitors, including in the open source BI market JasperSoft, Pentaho and even Spago, which they have to contend with as they start to see deeper use of their open source technology. Actuate is redefining its position in the market and advancing its open source efforts to ensure business continuity over the next decade by helping organizations deliver a new generation of Web and Internet applications.

Let me know your thoughts.I attended the Actuate user conference last week where they brought forward a series of new advancements utilizing open source and new platform capabilities... Actuate is extending support for Rich Internet Applications as the need for information across businesses and to consumers requires very scalable platforms...

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