Open source BI tools. Should we be looking at Open Source?

Many organizations, both private and public, are currently evaluating or deploying Open Source BI tools (OS BI) like JasperSoft, Pentaho, Actuate or SpagoBI. These leading open source Business Intelligence suites offer a full range of Business Intelligence capabilities, ranging from ETL to ad-hoc analysis and reporting.

Open source adoption increases

On a feature by feature comparison, open source Business Intelligence tools still can’t beat the leading closed source offerings, but, as a leading analyst firm recently stated in a research paper: “open source adoption increases, because it is often considered ‘good enough’, especially for organizations in the public sector.” Further reading: ‘Open source Business Intelligence in demand’.

OS BI tools worth considering

If you combine the ‘good enough’ factor with an attractive price point and the support delivered by the vendors, some open source BI tools are certainly worth considering. More information about the maturity and implementation of open source BI can be found in the Business Intelligence Tools Survey 2015, an in-depth comparison report including the following open source BI tools:

Open source BI vendor PentahoThey score relatively well in the categories of usability, performance and security which is essential for expanding their market share. Currently they don’t have many large implementations. As a strength Pentaho have a complete product offering (their data integration product is evaluated in our ETL Tools & Data Integration Survey), as a weakness we don’t yet see much predictive analysis and no performance management facilities. read more…
Open source BI platform JaspersoftJaspersoft have improved considerably in the usability category but still have some work to do to compete with the top products. Good BI tools help us predict the future and this (advanced analytics) is something that is currently not included in the product. As a basic report writer, the product is adequate, but if you are looking for something more it is not (yet) available in Jaspersoft. read more…

Other tools you might want to consider

SpagoBI, an open source BI toolThis open source BI tool isn’t (yet) included in our study because vendors have to cooperate and SpagoBI didn’t respond to our questionnaire. Probably they didn’t like the questions. Hopefully they will respond much more adequate to questions from their customers.
Actuate, a BIRT companyActuate is a product that is difficult to put into a single category, they are too big to be classified as small, have been around too long to be classified as new and don’t really seem to do anything particularly innovative. They are however very successful at what they do, their market is primarily the financial departments within larger companies and their product spreadsheet based. They are promoting the use of BI quite successfully with their Open source initiative BIRT but score badly in almost everything that we have measured. That’s why we excluded it from our survey in 2011.

How to define key criteria for open source BI?

BI tools are often not selected in a structured way. Here you will find all the key selection criteria you need to perform a tool selection in a proper way. For open source BI tools, you might want to evaluate the tools in addition on the following criteria:

  • What is their market share in terms of number of installations?
  • Do they offer local support in your country and your own language?
  • How many developers are working on the open source initiative?
  • Is the product designed to be really scalable, is it robust?
  • If the company defaults, can you access and use the source code?

A comparison of open source BI tools in our BI Survey

A profoundly, 100% vendor independent evaluation (197 criteria) of the open source BI tools Pentaho BI and Jaspersoft and many other solutions is included in the Business Intelligence Tools Survey 2015 which is available for purchase and download.

download our survey