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Software // Information Management
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4/21/2005
12:03 PM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
Commentary
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Open For Business (Intelligence)

It wasn't really all that bold of me to predict last year that we'd see more open-source BI tools. Actually, it was a no-brainer. But hey, I like being right.

Companies large and small are afraid to turn to open-source software for their big, "critical" applications. Debate their rationale all you want, but that's the way it is. However, lots of companies are willing go open-source with technology that is, for now at least, sometimes seen as less "core" to operations. Like business intelligence.

As I wrote in this column last year, there's more and more traffic at the intersection where BI and open-source converge. This is particularly true of BI reporting tools. The Business Intelligence Reporting Tools (BIRT) initiative, a joint effort between Actuate and an open-source tools organization, the Eclipse Foundation, grabbed attention in spades when it debuted last summer. The project continues to move along at a healthy clip, last we heard.

I said then we'd see more developments on the open-source front, and look out kids because this week we did. It takes something special in a start-up to garner a whole lot of attention; this is because such firms usually have accomplished nothing in terms of deployments. But there are exceptions. Larry Greenemeier of InformationWeek tells us this week of JasperSoft, a start-up that's peddling open-source reporting tools and software for report-aggregation portals.

JasperSoft's bold foray doesn't start merely with the debut of a couple products. They also enter the market with a couple partnerships lined up. MySQL AB has agreed to offer JasperReports as a reporting tool with its open-source database. A data integration partnership with Informatica is on the way too, according to JasperSoft CEO (and former Business Objects exec) Paul Doscher.

Don't think for a second that Business Objects, Cognos and the other established vendors don't see the writing on the wall. They, too, are looking closely at open source, and have begun to make progress at making their own tools compatible with open tools. Business Objects announced this week that it will embed MySQL's open-source database technology into Business Objects XI, its most cutting-edge reporting and analytics package. In an unrelated story, MySQL began offering support packages through Ingram Micro.

It wasn't all that bold of me to predict last year that we'd see more open-source BI. Actually, it was a no-brainer. But hey, I like being right, so I'm going to predict it again. More and more open-source options will make themselves available to BI practitioners this year and for the foreseeable future. Who knows? Open-source might have already established a foothold among BI apps by the time companies realize that business intelligence was indeed one of their "core" applications all along.

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