Open Source Fuels “Power To The User”

June 22, 2011

Traditionally open source Business Intelligence (OSBI) has been adopted by individuals with an “I” in their acronym: IT, SI, and ISVs.  This made sense because Open Source software started with deep technical roots in operating systems, appservers, RDBMSs, ESBs, etc., and when Pentaho pioneered OSBI in 2004 it was no different. The OSBI landscape back then was filled with some very nice technical projects, some desire from the “then current” open source proponents to move higher in the stack, and the overwhelming BI market screaming for disruption in the form of better products, better architectures and better pricing.

Over the next few years Pentaho built out a great BI platform with end-to-end BI capabilities and quickly became known as “The” OS BI Suite vendor. In conjunction with building product, we built out vibrant open source communities that helped spur our growth and adoption. We were the only clear alternative to Business Objects, Cognos, Oracle and Microstrategy, and the market was hungry for a better and more appropriately-priced offering. We’ve experienced incredible growth over the last couple of years as we continue to deliver great, solid, scalable, secure and functionally-rich products to the market – both to our open source communities and to our paying customers and partners.

In 2009 we started delivering more products geared toward the “business user,” a.k.a. “end-user,” a.k.a. “casual user,” a.k.a. “non-techie.” We immediately started seeing more people convert into customers and this trend grew significantly all the way through 2010. This was a great move in that direction, but we knew that another gap needed to be plugged in order to really satisfy growing market needs – better web-based reporting and data visualization as well as an easier way to get to data. People want results fast and easy, especially the “non-technical user.”  Voila, Pentaho BI 4.0 directly addresses these needs and pain points.  Check it all out here in our Pentaho BI 4 resource center.

Pentaho BI 4 is our biggest release ever that’s geared toward the business user. This product makes it not only possible, but makes it easy for business users to access their own data and do their own reporting, analytics, data discovery and dashboards. We’ve shielded users from the underlying complexities while also giving them the power that they desire.  Our open source roots make it clear that we are all about the people, and this release specifically extends that philosophy to include the “non-technical people.”

Pentaho BI 4 will greatly expand our addressable market size and customer profile. Our early feedback from customers, partners and communities indicates that this is a huge inflection point for our product line and company.  Our launch webcast on Thursday June 23 – Pentaho BI 4 Live – has already broken our previous webcast registration by 250%!

There must be some real unsolved thirst for pushing power to the user.

Richard


Former Jaspersoft exec joins Pentaho

January 13, 2011

I am very excited to welcome, Ian Fyfe to the Pentaho team as our Chief Technology Evangelist. Ian recently joined us after spending six years at Jaspersoft as their senior director of product management and product marketing. However, I know him best from working with him several years ago at an executive information systems start-up that he co-found called Intelligent Office Company (IOC, Inc). Ian’s knowledge of the industry, proven leadership skills, and existing relationships with the executive team are a home run for Pentaho. I like to welcome and introduce all new team members on the blog by asking the same question, “What brought you to Pentaho?” Welcome Ian!

Guest Blogger: Ian Fyfe

There are a number of things that brought me to Pentaho, including great people and great products, but perhaps one of the most compelling was the opportunity to work with the founding principals of the company again (Richard Daley-CEO, James Dixon-CTO, Marc Batchelor- Chief Engineer, and Doug Moran-VP Community), having worked with them several years ago at an earlier software startup.  Coming to Pentaho in some ways brings me full-circle, back to working with this group of extremely talented, innovative, and motivated individuals and helping take the extraordinary company they have built to the next level through a continuation of its high growth in customers, community, and capabilities. Even better, Pentaho has emerged from the swamps of Florida to establish their sales headquarters in downtown San Francisco, the northern anchor of California’s Silicon Valley, and my longtime hometown.

Through my long career in Business Intelligence and related technologies, I’ve been fortunate to work at a number of venture-backed startups such as Jaspersoft and Epiphany, as well as more mature larger enterprise software business such as Business Objects, Informix, and PeopleSoft.  I’ve worked closely with sales, marketing, and engineering, and have become fluent at real-time, bi-directional “translation” between these constituencies, enabling me to bridge the gap between understanding market requirements and customer problems, deriving the products and features to meet those requirements, and marketing and selling the resulting products.  From these experiences I’ve learned well the ingredients critical to success are a modern and well architected product, smart and motivated people, and a high growth or rapidly changing market with unmet requirements.  Pentaho truly has it all, and sits at the confluence of the BI market which continues year after year to be at or near the top of the list of CIO spending priorities, and the spectacular growth and mainstream acceptance of commercial open source technology.

I’m excited by my new position at Pentaho as the Chief Technology Evangelist, which builds solidly on my prior experiences, while also introducing the welcome challenge of a new role.  As one of Pentaho’s primary spokespeople I’m looking forward to communicating and interacting with you through events such as talks, webinars, articles, demonstrations, briefings, and social media.

Cheers,

Ian Fyfe
Chief Product Evangelist
Pentaho Corporation


Sex
 & 
Sizzle 
– 
not
 without
 plumbing

November 16, 2010

What sells BI software? Sex and Sizzle! What makes BI projects successful? All of the data work done before any grids or graphs are ever produced. It’s the side of the business most BI vendors don’t talk about as they’d rather just woo and wow people with flash charts and glossy dashboards. Not that there is anything wrong with that – who doesn’t like great looking output? But, if the backend plumbing is either too complicated or non-existent, then it doesn’t matter how sexy this stuff is.

Today Pentaho announced the Pentaho Enterprise Data Services Suite to help make the “plumbing” as easy and efficient as possible. We’ve enabled people to iteratively get from raw data–from virtually any source–all the way through to metadata and onto visualization in less than an hour. We’ve enabled a new set of users to accomplish this by taking away many of the complexities.

In about 80% of the use cases we encounter, our customers want to quickly create and perform analytics on the fly, do this in an iterative approach, and when satisfied put their projects into production. You shouldn’t need a Ph.D in Data Warehousing to accomplish this, nevertheless many tools require extensive knowledge of DW methodologies and practices. It is fine to demand this knowledge with larger Enterprise DWs (EDW) but why make everyone pay the price – both in terms of software cost and experience/training required.

Now it would be one thing to provide data integration with RDBMSs, another thing to integrate with ROLAP, and yet another to integrate with Big Data like Hadoop, but how nice would it be to have a single Data Integration and Business Intelligence platform to work for all of these? Almost as nice as the Florida Gators winning a national championship but we won’t have to worry about that in 2010…had to digress for a moment.

A big part of our product release today centers around Pentaho for Hadoop integration including the GA for Pentaho Data Integration and BI Suite for Hadoop. Big Data and the whole ”data explosion” trend is just starting, so if you aren’t there today, give it time and know that Pentaho is already positioned to help in these use cases.

Pentaho allows you to start down an easy path with Agile BI and then scale up to EDW when and if necessary with enterprise data services. Our engineering team and community have spent significant time and effort to bring these services to market, and today is the official release. Please take a few minutes to read up on the new Pentaho Enterprise Data Services Suite and attend the launch webcast. Or, go ahead and download the Pentaho Enterprise Data Services Suite and start making easier, faster, better decisions.

Richard


Data, Data, Data

October 12, 2010

It’s everywhere and expanding exponentially every day. But it might as well be a pile of %#$& unless you can turn all of that data into information. And do so in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner.  The old-school vendors don’t operate in a timely (everything is slow), efficient (everything is over-engineered, over-analyzed, over-staffed, etc) or cost-effective mode (the bloated supertanker needs feeding and the customer gets to pay for those inefficiencies), so that means new technologies and business models will drive innovation which ultimately serves the customers and communities.

Back to Data, Data, Data – Enter open source technologies like Hadoop and Pentaho BI/DI to drive next gen big data analytics to the market. Hadoop and Pentaho have both been around about 5 years, are both driven by very active communities, and have both been experiencing explosive growth over the last 18 months. Our community members are the ones who came up with the original integration points for the two techs, not because it was a fun, science project thing to do but because they had real business pains they were trying to solve. This all started in 2009 – we started development in 09, we launched our beta program in June 2010 (had to cap enrollment in the beta program at 60), launched a Pentaho for Hadoop roadshow (which was oversubscribed) and are now announcing the official release of Pentaho Data Integration and BI Suite for Hadoop.

I’m in NYC today at Hadoop World and we’re making four announcements:

  1. Pentaho for Hadoop – our Pentaho BI Suite and Pentaho Data Integration are now both integrated with Hadoop
  2. Partnership with Amazon Web Services – Pentaho for Hadoop now supports Amazon Elastic Map Reduce (EMR) and S3
  3. Partnership with Cloudera – Pentaho for Hadoop will support certified versions of Cloudera’s Distribution for Hadoop (CDH)
  4. Partnership with Impetus – a major Solutions Provider (over 1,000 employees) with a dedicated Large Data Analytics practice.

Consider this as phase I of building out the ecosystem.

We’re all about making Hadoop easy and accessible. Now you can take on those mountains of data and turn them into value. Download Pentaho for Hadoop.

Richard


The party is just starting

October 4, 2010

A few years ago when talking with some potential investors I heard on more than one occasion “Everybody already has BI” or “The market is saturated with BI products.” Quite the contrary – even the few companies that have BI or Data Integration products are just scratching the surface of their potential usage. Many projects are only rolled out to a limited set of users, handcuffed by the outrageous price of most products on the market. And what about all of the other projects that never even started due to cost constraints? And what about the rest of the companies on the planet who could never even buy their first BI/DI products? And what about all of the applications that could desperately use some embedded BI/analytical capabilities but due to cost and technical constraints of the old guard BI companies could never get off these efforts of the ground.

Imagine how frustrating it can be when the needs and requirements to make your business run more efficiently and effectively are held hostage by a few large software vendors. Thus, the founding of Pentaho and the democratization of BI and DI. For the past 5+ years we’ve been blazing trails to innovate and deliver great products to the market at either zero or extremely low prices. We chose open source as the development and distribution vehicles to make this all possible. We spent the first few years doing nothing but building great product and communities around those products. We knew we had to establish high adoption rates and momentum in order to effectively compete against the old school vendors, and to get the word out to the world that a better alternative was now available in BI and DI.

How are we doing? Many say we’ve done a great job: we win awards every year, we get great write-ups from analysts and press, we have a large, active community (I’ll post a separate blog on this subject), we have a large, happy customer base (our renewal rates are amongst the best in the industry), our company is growing at a record pace for any BI/DI company (our Q3 was 160% larger than any prior quarter in company history), our partner network is solid with some of the best minds/talent in the BI/DI market, our products are enterprise-class and easy to use (a combo that is not easy to achieve), and we continue to innovate (Agile BI, Cloud Offerings, Big Data Analytics), bringing great tech to the market to help solve problems for customers and communities. But we’ll truly know that we’ve done a great job when we become the defacto standard for BI/DI – this is what we set out to achieve every day.

What does this have to do with the title “The Party is just starting”? The need for analytics/BI/DI is never-ending and vendors have really only scratched the surface over the last 30 years. Break down one of the biggest barriers to adoption – cost – and you can clearly see how it is just beginning. Companies were starving for this tech and now the gates are wide open for adoption.  Couple that with the exponential explosion of data, a global market that is more tech savvy than ever and a worldwide financial crisis/recession over the last few years, and Voila! A full-featured, cost-effective alternative looks pretty attractive to customers.

Even the big vendors know how much value BI, DI and analytics bring to the market, as evidenced by all of the consolidation in our industry over the last 3+ years: ORCL buys Hyperion, IBM buys Cognos, IBM buys SPSS, IBM buys Netezza, SAP buys Business Objects, EMC buys Greenplum, etc.  Most of these vendors are creating stacks and appliances, but the cost to get in the game is still prohibitive to the overwhelming majority of companies. This is just one reason why Pentaho will continue to grow at record pace…

We’re winning for one simple reason: our customers, partners and communities are winning. So it is possible to have a party during a recession.

Regards,
Richard


Welcome Doug Johnson

August 26, 2010

If you have followed my blogs about Pentaho, you can easily detect that our momentum is full-speed-ahead. Another notch to add to our success is adding Doug Johnson to the Pentaho management roster as our CFO. Doug has a unique background that combines a passion for business intelligence, experience, bringing three companies through IPO, and extensive experience in open source and subscription-based services. I asked Doug to share with you, “What brought you to Pentaho?” Welcome on board Doug.

Guest Blogger Doug Johnson

There are a number of things about Pentaho that interested me when I began to talk to Richard about joining the company. The product area – business intelligence, the development approach – open source, the stage of the company – going through rapid growth and market dominance, and the people all struck a chord and raised my level of interest. As I got to know the management team and the board of directors during the evaluation stage, my interest continued to grow.

As a CFO, business intelligence has always been a passion for me. The role of CFO requires a deep understanding of the data in the company and using tools like Pentaho’s BI suite allows me to organize the data, combine data from different systems and then analyze that data. It used to take my staff hours and hours to pull the data from its various sources and then combine the data in such a way as to make it understandable and actionable. It is always preferable to be the CFO of a company whose product you can relate to and appreciate.

The open source movement makes sense to me. As a CFO in mid-size companies most of my career, making a decision to acquire business intelligence software was always a difficult one due to the price of the leading products. Frequently, I had to either decide not to go forward with a project or to select a lesser alternative simply based on the price tag of the product I really wanted. The commoditization of software through the use of open source is a movement that I have supported and been in favor of for some time. To see it being used in an area that has simply been out of the reach of mid-size companies in the past is heartening. To be able to afford a leading software product for 10% to 25% of the commercial price is an exciting prospect for a data hound like me.

Pentaho, for several years concentrated on building out its product suite and improving its ease of use. It has reached the point where it is equal or better than anyone else on the block. The company is now growing its sales infrastructure to dominate the market. Growth in the business is strong and the changes going on in the organization are dramatic. The most exciting time in a company’s life cycle for a CFO who runs all the administrative areas also is when it is going through its early growth phase and is crossing the chasm from the early adopters to the main market. Pentaho is the fastest growing open source business intelligence company with a full product line. It is an exciting stage for a company and an exciting stage for a CFO.

Last but far from least, the people I met during the evaluation stage and have met since joining recently are some of the smartest, hardest working people I have had the honor of working with. Everyone at Pentaho is here because they genuinely care that it is and continues to be the best in class. I consider it a real honor to be part of this team.

Doug Johnson
CFO
Pentaho Corporation


Congratulations to QlikTech and the new wave of BI

July 26, 2010

It’s been awhile since a BI company went public, so I’m excited by the news of QlikTech’s IPO and what it bodes for our industry. Following the Era of the BI consolidation, when the Big 3 BI vendors grew stodgy and were consumed by mega-vendors like IBM, Oracle and SAP who were looking to add BI functionality (a.k.a. “buy their maintenance stream”) to their existing products, it’s great to see Wall Street showing enthusiasm for a pure BI player. It clearly demonstrates that the market sees significant value in BI innovation.

QlikTech did a great job of taking its technology and packaging it to appeal directly to the business user. It’s a proven enterprise sales model, similar to what Arbor Software did in 1995, and QlikTech should be congratulated for being smart and adapting to an important trend. It’s encouraging to see their market valuation and I’m sure it’s because:

  • Their strong growth rate
  • The BI market is very large and getting much bigger
  • Newer technology that enables direct sales to business users (not to mention a very sexy UI)
  • Other publicly held BI companies are relatively flat

Appealing directly to business users, making it easy for them to upload their data and begin analysis without waiting for support from developers is critical. Every BI vendor must do this and more. The market is also screaming for data integration (simple as well as sophisticated), deployment options (on-premise, private and public clouds/virtualization), and big data analytics just to name a few.

So my congratulations to QlikTech for what they achieved and for raising the excitement level in the BI industry even higher. With this outstanding achievement, I have to wonder how Wall Street might receive a company that is not only financially successful and has great growth momentum, but is also supported by an open source community, has its technology and sales model appealing to more constituents—developers, system integrators, and business users—and has its technology innovated around all the key BI trends. Hmm…

Richard


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