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April 1, 2009

Jaspersoft catches up in open source business intelligence

But can it compete with the BI big guns?

By Jason Stamper

Jaspersoft, an open source business intelligence vendor that claims its suite is the world’s most widely used BI software, announced the availability of Jaspersoft v3.5, featuring new, integrated analysis capabilities as well as what it claims is the industry’s first software-as-a-service-enabled BI platform and in-memory analytics.

Jaspersoft says it has had almost 8 million downloads worldwide and now has more than 10,000 commercial customers in 96 countries. It says its Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite provides a web-based, open and modular approach.

There are said to be 90,000 registered members working on more than 350 projects related to Jaspersoft’s open source code, which it says represents the world’s largest business intelligence community.

Speaking to CBR, Jaspersoft’s vice president of marketing, Nick Halsey, conceded that prior to this latest version the company was “playing catch-up” with its proprietary competitors – it may have been cheaper but it lacked some of their bells and whistles.

“With the release of version 3.5 we’ve got more capability than the proprietary vendors, with an order of magnitude lower cost,” said Halsey. “The in-memory analytics technology puts OLAP [online analytical processing] right into a user’s dashboard, so they can do on-the-fly slicing and dicing of their data without reprocessing the query each time on the server.”

Halsey said another unique feature is the ability for users to decide for each query whether to do the analysis in-memory or send it back to the JasperServer for processing, simply by ticking or un-ticking a checkbox. This gives them the ability to choose whether to handle the processing locally or on the server, depending on their client’s processing power, bandwidth limitations and the like.

Jaspersoft says version 3.5 ushers in a multi-tenant architecture, which it says, “eliminates the need for SaaS application vendors and enterprises deploying internal multi-tenant applications to ‘roll their own’ BI functionality into solutions that require analysis and reporting.”

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Halsey concedes that Jaspersoft’s sweet-spot is the OEM and embedded market – Jaspersoft’s BI technology is embedded into the likes of IBM’s Rational reporting capabilities, for instance. It’s also used by companies seeking to embed reporting functionality in their own home-grown applications, without having to pay the licensing fees often associated with proprietary BI offerings.

Jaspersoft’s technology is available for free in a Community edition via, while the company also offers a Professional Edition with additional capabilities for an annual subscription fee.

The company says the latest version is particularly suited to the delivery of customizable SaaS [software as a service] and cloud-based BI applications.

Open Source BI tools are not only a low-cost option, they are beginning to offer greater levels of functionality to meet enterprise requirements,” commented Wayne Eckerson, director of TDWI Research. “Jaspersoft’s support for integrated analysis that make its BI suite more interactive, is one example of how they are moving up the food chain.”

Version 3.5 also features an enhanced ad-hoc report builder; scalability improvements; improvements to business metadata layer domains used for ad hoc query and report engine enhancements that include font extensions, multiple scriptlets per report, runaway report governors and new charting features.


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