With their recent Enterprise edition, Jaspersoft looks at taking a big step forward for a competitive business intelligence (BI) solution, but is open source ready for the big BI market?
The FOSS and the COSS World
Open source software providers have been growing in the recent years. Long gone are the days when free and open source software (FOSS) providers were making their first efforts to offer reliable software solutions. Nowadays, many of the traditional FOSS vendors have become commercial open source software (COSS) providers. With the COSS offering, the open source software space is changing in an important way, making it reliable enough and offering cost advantages to make it the best option for many companies looking for business software.
Jaspersoft at a Glance
Jaspersoft has been in the FOSS space since November 2001. Now, with Jaspersoft Professional Edition, a COSS product, Jaspersoft goes a step forward in order to gain bigger market segments in the BI space.
In November 2008, Nick Halsey, vice president of marketing and product management with Jaspersoft Corp., mentioned:
"People still have the business imperative to get their job done, but now they're being told to do more with less. For example, how can they build that supply chain solution and [simultaneously] make sure that they're focusing on their most profitable products without BI? They can'tâ€”but wouldn't it be good if they could also take a couple of hundred thousand dollars out of their IT budgets at the same time? The logic from there just flows, and that's part of the [open source] value proposition (see Is Open Source BI at a Tipping Point?)."
The company founded in 2001 by Teodor Danciu, Al Campa, and Giulio Toffoli is currently being managed by Brian Gentile, who has a strong leadership background having worked for Informatica, Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle) and former software vendor Brio Software (acquired by Oracle/Hyperion). Under Gentileâ€˜s leadership, Jaspersoft has continued to progress and improve its product positions, not only from an open source perspective, but also within the broad BI market. Jaspersoft's intention to address the big corporate market can be seen in recent events.
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In January 2010, during the release of Jaspersoft 3.7 product line, Jaspersoft unveiled its new enterprise edition. So far, this major release makes a big difference between previous major releases from Jaspersoft. Now, Jaspersoft is offering three editions: Jaspersoft Community Projects, Jaspersoft Professional Edition, and Jaspersoft Enterprise Edition. This movement seems to be a logical evolution towards the product maturity process in order to extend its market reach, not only to a core midsize market but to large organizations as well as small organizations trying to solve big data challenges. This evolving process is clearly highlighted in the following article. Vincent Pineau, vice president and general manager for the Americas from Talend, an open source software (OSS) organization specialized in Data Integration and partner with Jaspersoft states:
"We definitely do not feel that open source should equate to free. Yes, we are lower [in price] than our competitors, but we also do not want people to think that cheap in price or cheap in features. We believe that the right features are what people should focus on (see Is Open Source BI at a Tipping Point?)."
This idea is under consideration, not only for Jaspersoft, but for other open source BI providers like Pentaho, who have been working towards offering mature BI solutions that can embrace larger customers to make themselves bigger challengers in the BI market. The release of JaspersoftÂ´s Enterprise version seems to be a logical step towards gaining more presence in the BI market.
Jaspersoft Is Rolling Out the Strategy
With this general background on Jaspersoft, it's worth mentioning some of the important strategies put in place by the company in order to gain a better position in the BI market:
1. Lower Cost Offerings
Of course, as an open source vendor, one of Jaspersoft's interesting value propositions is its low cost solution compared with traditional BI vendors. In general, open source vendors have the capability to offer cost effective capabilities compared to traditional software vendors. Advanced commercially available features are complemented with premium support to enable Jaspersoft to compete well enough with other BI traditional offerings.
2. Commercial Partnerships
Like other open-source vendors, Jaspersoft has been working on creating very interesting commercial partnerships with other open-source vendors like Infobright (an analytical database vendor), RightScale, (a cloud management platform), Red Hat, and extract transform and load (ETL) software vendor Talend and Vertica (a virtualized analytic database).
3. Moving to the Clouds
Taking a step further towards keeping the pace with the latest trends, Jaspersoft's recent Enterprise edition has multi-tenancy properties right out-of-the-box. This enables a single organization or multiple business units and organizations to run Jaspersoft BI on one shared server instance. Additionally, their partnership with Talend, Vertica, and Right Scale allows organizations to run BI natively in Amazon EC2 with a pay-as-you-go subscription model.
4. Enterprise Version
Their latest Enterprise version addition, beside its multi-tenant cloud awareness, has a number of features like online analytical processing (OLAP) services and audit logging that enhances the overall core functionality of the Jaspersoft BI suite.
Being a COSS vendor enables Jaspersoft to offer interesting licensing and price conditions, but this can also be a great challenge. Even now, some decision makers in IT business areas are still not convinced that having an open source BI solution could really bring specific advantages to their companies, there are still some concerns regarding security and reliability of these open-source software tools as well as their support capabilities. Even if in some cases this could be a psychological factor more than a real one, Jaspersoft and other COSS vendors still need to break this barrier in order to achieve a bigger portion of the market.
Of course another challenge that companies like Jaspersoft will have to deal with is major competition with mega vendors. In general, these mega vendors certainly have the means and resources to offer powerful and diverse deployments of tools. Jaspersoft is working hard to consolidate and improve their product quality and add features that can lead them to gain confidence within bigger companies like improving their Audit logging and improved corporate administration tools. Their product life cycle seems to be improving as we see new releases being importantly rugged with new technologyâ€”this is the case with their new OLAP Schema Workbench.
In a study called Open Source Solutions: Managing, Analyzing and Delivering Business Information, it is mentioned that 23 percent of large enterprises are actually using COSS, while 38 percent are evaluating or considering the use of an open source software tool. In the same study, 40 percent of large organizations plan to deploy corporate BI solutions using some open source components. This is an indication that points to increasing interest from big companies to acquire a commercial open source solution as well as to the product maturity of open source tools like Jaspersoft's BI suite. Jaspersoft may be entering the "big data" segment of BI.
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