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6/7/2010
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Pentaho Takes Open Source BI On Demand

Rapid-deployment option promises ready-to-run dashboards, metrics and reports within 72 hours.

Hoping to win over companies suffering from business intelligence fear factor, open-source vendor Pentaho on Tuesday will announce an On-Demand BI Subscription offering. The service promises quickly deployed, low-cost BI implementations starting at $3,500 per month.

Pentaho's On-Demand BI Subscription starts with dedicated data storage, network bandwidth and data-processing capacity served up from a secure data center with managed backup capabilities. The service also includes access to Pentaho's entire Enterprise Edition BI Suite, with modules for everything from metadata modeling and extract-transform-load data integration to data analysis and reporting. The vendor is also offering optional services ranging from application development and integration to ongoing systems administration.

"BI can be pretty complex, and companies often don't have the IT resources required to get projects up and running," said Joe Nicholson, Pentaho vice president of product marketing. "There's also a perceived risk of failure, so we're taking the friction points out of the procurement and prototyping process."

The on-demand offering is likely to compete with software-as-a-service alternatives ranging from the more application-oriented services from Oco and PivotLink to the all-purpose suites offered by Birst and SAP BusinessObjects. These SaaS vendors exploit multitenant architectures to keep their subscription costs low. Pentaho's offering is not multitenant and more closely follows the hosted model, but Nicholson says it's virtualized on VMWare infrastructure and can match the cost and flexibility advantages of cloud deployments.

"Virtualization gives us the ability to spin up and spin down additional resources as needed as part of the monthly subscription cost," Nicholson said. "Because it's a VMWare image, implementations can also be easily moved into on-premise environments if customers want to take it in-house."

Pentaho's offering was developed in partnership with Project Leadership Associates, a Chicago-based integrator with years of experience developing and administering Pentaho deployments. The data center partner is UbiStor, a ten-year-old firm with SAS 70 Type II-certified facilities in Schaumburg, Ill.

Like most open-source vendors, Pentaho offers free downloads of its software. But to give customers a better sense of a functioning production environment, the company will aslo announce a 72-Hour Challenge trail offering. Once the would-be customer supplies the data, Pentaho says it can deliver an evaluation deployment, complete with dashboards, key performance metrics and reports, within three business days. The customer can use the trial environment for up to three weeks before subscribing. The challenge does involve fees of $1,000 to $2,000, but Nicholson said the investment gives customers a head start on a deployment.

"Most of the RFP prototyping you see out there takes weeks, if not months, and typically it's throw-away work," Nicholson said. "We're taking the pain out of developing a prototype, and you're not dealing with a crippled version of the software."

Costs for a typical 200-user deployment will be $4,000 to $5,000 per month, and fees are based on blocks of users rather than data capacity or hours of use. Development, implementation and administrative services are available as needed at an additional cost.

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