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June 26, 2012updated 19 Aug 2016 9:28am

Jaspersoft carpet-bombs self-service BI

Open source firm says it is on the cusp of a business intelligence revolution

By

Brian Gentile Jaspersoft

Brian Gentile, CEO of Jaspersoft.

Commercial, open source business intelligence maven Jaspersoft claims it is about to finally achieve what has for a long time been a pipe-dream: the potential to get reasonably sophisticated BI software in the hands of any business user that wants it.

For as long as anyone can remember, BI firms have talked about trying to make their technology more pervasive. Indeed Madan Sheina, lead analyst for Ovum’s Information Management Software group’s research and analysis practice, described the "pent-up demand for pervasive BI" way back in 2006.

Companies including SAS, Business Objects (bought by SAP), Cognos (bought by IBM), Adaytum (bought by Cognos), Hyperion (bought by Oracle), ProClarity (bought by Microsoft) and Microstrategy – to name just a few – have all tried to make their software simple enough to put in the hands of business users and thereby save the IT department a headache.

With the exception of Microsoft Excel, which most would argue is a personal productivity tool rather than a true BI engine, they’ve battled it out with limited success.

But now Jaspersoft, a commercial open source firm that has seeded the market with a basic, free version of its BI analytics technology, says it may be about to crack the pervasive BI ‘nut’.

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The company will release two new versions of its Jaspersoft technology this year. I couldn’t grab any code names from CEO Brian Gentile this time around, but apparently the focus is largely on self-service – by which he means enabling business people to use the BI technology themselves without recourse to the IT department.

"The themes of the next two versions, at a high level, are offering self-service [BI] at a scale no one has been able to achieve so far," Gentile told me. "It’s self-service BI on a web scale."

Gentile said customers such as BT are already using Jaspersoft across "thousands" of desktops, and he put that down to its affordability as well as its features and scalability.

Gentile also said the firm is expanding its browser-based (thin client) analytics capabilities, with improved caching and other smarts that enable more processing to be performed locally. That of course saves on pinging the back-end server and in turn reduces latency. Browser-based deployments also save on the hassle of thick client management and upgrades, Gentile said.

"Organisations like Virgin Money and BT are using Jaspersoft because it gives them the ability to do self-service [BI] at scale, at the fraction of the cost of QlikTech, Tableau or Microstrategy," Gentile added.

Jaspersoft’s CEO also confirmed that Jaspersoft will not address the cloud BI market directly, but will of course make its technology available to third parties that wish to embed it into cloud offerings of their own.

Open source business intelligence rivals to Jaspersoft include Actuate, Pentaho, Talend, Spago and Palo.

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