Actuate Intensifies Focus On Open Source

The next release of Actuate's business intelligence software includes more support for its Eclipse Foundation project started four years ago.

Actuate, a business intelligence software company, is betting heavily on the open source software model. With the upgrade to its flagship software, Actuate is putting a big focus on its Eclipse Foundation project called BIRT.

Actuate's shift toward open source has been a work-in-progress. The company had more than 5 million downloads of its open source Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools development software in its third fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, yet BIRT represented just 12% of its revenue in the quarter.

BIRT was approved as a project in the Eclipse community four years ago.

The company announced Monday its plans to ship Actuate 10 by year's end and said it will include more support for Eclipse BIRT. Actuate's software is particularly popular among financial services companies, which use it to develop interactive investment reports for clients over the Web, for example.

New features in Actuate 10 include an Ajax-based BIRT viewing environment that lets end users customize Web content to meet their preferences, JavaScript APIs for developers to more easily integrate BIRT content with other content, and new Flash-based widgets and gadgets.

Actuate said in a press release that Actuate 10 will let customers "build any information rich interactive content using BIRT," scale BIRT according to specific needs, and efficiently develop BIRT content.

An Actuate survey of its customers shows that "open source is certainly catching on," said Nobby Akiha, the company's senior VP of marketing, in an interview. "In addition to the lower cost of ownership of open source, it gives [customers] more flexibility and doesn't lock them into certain vendors."

For its third quarter ended Sept. 30, Actuate reported net income of $8.9 million, down from $9.39 million in the comparable quarter last year, and revenue of $33.7 million, down from $34.7 million last year. CEO Pete Cittadini called it a "respectable performance" in light of the "current turmoil in the financial markets" in a statement released Oct. 27.

BIRT-related revenue totaled $4 million in the quarter, Cittadini said. He added: "Our ongoing commitment to open source, with its potential to expand our market reach and accelerate our revenue at lower cost, continues to make Actuate a compelling enterprise software firm for shareholders, customers, and employees."

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