Commercial BI vs Open Source BI


J

JTP PR

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The nature of the Business Intelligence industry is changing. Major
acquisitions of the past few years have seen most of the traditional
players rolled into the mega vendors, and now we are staring to see
the emergence of alternative solutions. One of these is Open Source.
In this Q&A we talk to Yellowfin CEO Glen Rabie about the business
Intelligence industry and his take on the open source players.

Q. What is your attitude towards open source?

A. Yellowfin is philosophically very supportive of the open source
movement and we have engineered our tools so they live inside an open
source sandwich. They run on Linux and other open source systems. We
have some significant components of our solution that are open source
such as JFreeChart and Tomcat.

Q. Do you face much competition from open source?

A. I don’t think we do. It’s a political movement as well as a
technical effort. People who buy our products don’t typically want to
buy open source because they want to acquire a total solution – which
includes a high level of technical support as well as an integrated
end-to-end presentation layer. Do you want a mission critical customer
facing reporting portal that’s not as well supported? Arguably a
commercial product can bring about better support these days, maybe
that won’t be the case in the future. But at this point our general
philosophy is that we like the open source movement, we are not
challenging it, or challenged by it, and we welcome it into the
Business Intelligence community because it’s a hotbed of open research
that we benefit from and like to contribute to.

Q. Where do you see most of the use of open source BI?

A. We generally see open source BI within other software applications,
rather than within the enterprise. I think this is because the open
source products and their high requirement for developer customisation
are more suited to a development environment. Having said that
though, we are also seeing a trend whereby Software vendors are
looking to embed greater levels of BI functionality into their apps.
They are looking for functionality such as self service reporting,
which is not exactly the open source forte. If offered then the
issue with open source BI tools is that they are a loosely coupled set
of applications which have been developed and continue to be developed
in isolation. Yellowfin is a single integrated solution which is
making it easy for vendors to integrate and deploy analytical
applications to their customers.

Q. What do you think of the open source trend in BI – where is it
heading?

A. This is an interesting one. If I am going to be a bit
controversial on this, I would have to say that there is actually no
true ‘open source’ BI platform. The model in use by the likes of BIRT
and Pentaho is a hybrid and more of a marketing position than a true
commitment to open source.
To test this position I would say let’s take a step back and look at
the goals of open source and then see if these principles are being
applied to the Business intelligence open source vendors. Does the
hybrid model of commercial open source actually deliver on the
principles of transparency, openness and availability of source code.
Taking a big deep breath one would have to say not.
I think that open source as far as it has been applied to the BI
market is really about a small sub segment of product– Reporting not
analytics. Any valued added component such as dashboards, scheduling
and security are shipped under a commercial model. A Recent comment
to me by a software vendor underpins this, “BIRT is what it is… but if
you want end user ad hoc reporting you may as well evaluate all
commercial options.” In my view the open source play is about baiting
the customer and using core products as part of an up sell strategy.
What we are seeing in the market is a continued march towards this
paradigm – a greater focus on the commercial side of the business
rather than the open source one.

Q. Is the recent purchase by Pentaho of Lucidera’s front end a case in
point?

A. That is exactly what it is. Pentaho have more than bent the open
source model with this purchase, and in all likelihood have lost their
way. They have bought a great interface but you can just imagine the
management team sitting around and saying – hey this is to good to be
open source – lets keep it closed. Compare this behaviour with the
likes of Redhat who have open sourced their recent acquisition of
Metamatrix. The Lucidera acquisition is destined to remain closed
source and a pure commercial play. Simply their actions indicate a
very low level of commitment to the open source philosophy. So now as
a customer of Pentaho you have this interesting scenario where you
have to manage the different contractual obligations you have with
them based on the product set you wish to use, this adds an enormous
amount of complexity to the deal.

Q. How do you reconcile this view with Yellowfin’s use of open
source?

A. As I mention earlier, there is a role for open source products and
some components do make sense for us. However, what we do is manage
the support and complexity for our end customer. We provide a wrapper
for these products and deliver them as an integrated product. In some
cases such as JFree Chart they are core to the product. In others,
such as BIRT or Jasper renderers these are provided as a mechanism to
provide the client with the choice of authoring tool that suits their
particular needs. Again we recognise that customers who use these
open source tools are not getting a ‘total solution’ and Yellowfin
basically offers to fill the gaps. Not unlike the open source guys.
We are just transparent about our business model.

Q. Well if that is the case how would you say that Yellowfin differs
from open source providers?

A. On a business level, I would say that we have a lot in common with
open source philosophy. We are incredibly focussed on developing a
community around Yellowfin and increasing, the level of our
community’s engagement with product development. Where we
fundamentally differ though is on our approach to product
development. Generally the rule of thumb of BI deployments is that
about 80% of the cost is implementation related. Yellowfin has a huge
focus on usability and we continue to develop and refine the interface
accordingly. Our goal is to lower the level of implementation effort
required and it is this philosophy that is at odds with the open
source service revenue model. The major benefit of Yellowfin over
Open Source is the cost of implementation and time to market. So
whilst at a high level yes you can have the similar functionality with
open source and their associated commercial products it is incumbent
upon the consumers to build a BI development competency within their
company to hook all the pieces together, and that is not the way we do
business.

Extract from Print Media.
Open Distribution: Permission Given

References to other companies are for reference purposes only
 
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L

Lew

JTP said:
Powered by Java

Spread like manure.
The nature of the Business Intelligence [sic] industry is changing. Major
acquisitions of the past few years have seen most of the traditional
players rolled into the mega vendors, and now we are staring [sic] to see
the emergence of alternative solutions. One of these is Open Source. [sic]
In this Q&A we talk to Jellowbin CEO Glen Rabie about the business
Intelligence [sic] industry and his take on the open source players.

Wow - it must be a /great/ product to merit such a low-budget, boring,
unproofed, BS-laden garbage marketing approach.

My favorite passage was, "now we are staring to see". It would have been
poetic if intentional, but not being so is merely pathetic.
 
T

The Frog

The 'facts' are quite inaccurate in this 'article' as well. Dont take
my word for it, go and have a look for yourselves. The open source BI
providers are quite happy to have their sourcecode open. Where the
commercial part comes in is with 'extras' that clients can purchase if
they want to, like enterprise support and customised components. So
much of that article is crap I would be ashamed to have my name
mentioned in it.

The Frog
 
L

Lew

The said:
The 'facts' are quite inaccurate in this 'article' as well. Dont take
my word for it, go and have a look for yourselves.

I'd rather take your word for it.
 
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A

Arved Sandstrom

Lew said:
I'd rather take your word for it.
It's pretty obvious that the guy being interviewed either didn't know
what "open source" means or he was deliberately conflating it with "free
and unsupported."

Of course, he was also being very disingenuous by stating that his own
product - indeed, *any* BI product - is "easy" to deploy and integrate
for customers. Not that he mentioned any of the nasty little details.

AHS
 

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