Open Source vs Commercial BI - InformationWeek
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11/12/2009
10:05 AM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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Open Source vs Commercial BI

One of the challenging aspects in evaluating open source is in assessing what is in the free community editions versus in the premium, supported editions... But even the premium editions from open source vendors are priced significantly lower than suites from conventional BI vendors.

It's been a long, slow process, but I am pleased to say BI Scorecard has begun adding open source BI to its product evaluations! I actually blogged on this topic a few weeks ago, when Pentaho announced the acquisition of Lucid Era OLAP viewing technology, but editor Doug Henschen wanted more details and conclusions (demanding, isn't he?!) that I hadn't yet formulated.

I've been collaborating with open source and BI experts Jos van Dongen and Mark Madsen in this process. Jos is the founder of Tholis Consulting in the Netherlands and co-author of the recently published book Pentaho Solutions. Mark is the founder of Third Nature and a fellow instructor at TDWI.One of the challenging aspects in evaluating open source is in assessing what is in the free community editions versus in the premium, supported editions. So while many associate open source with "free," how free it is really depends upon which project you are talking about. Pentaho seems to make more for free than JasperSoft and Actuate, for example.

Beyond the free community editions, even the premium editions from open source vendors are priced significantly lower than suites from conventional BI vendors. In 100-user deployments, the license cost is about half and in enterprise deployments, it could be 1/10. (BI Scorecard subscribers can see more details on BI licensing in our Q2 customer webinar).

However, like many of the BI platform vendors, the robustness of the particular BI modules (business query, OLAP, dashboards, reporting) and degree of integration varies significantly. In this regard, while I can say that certain modules do compete well against commercial BI vendors, other modules are less mature. This Pentaho evaluation highlights the suite's strengths and weaknesses.

Open source BI products should be evaluated alongside commercial BI products, but not only because they are free. Customers must first consider how well any one product meets business and technical requirements, as well as deployment and ownership costs.

Sincerely, Cindi Howson, BI ScorecardOne of the challenging aspects in evaluating open source is in assessing what is in the free community editions versus in the premium, supported editions... But even the premium editions from open source vendors are priced significantly lower than suites from conventional BI vendors.

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