3 questions that every CFO wants to know about Pentaho (and how to answer them)

January 25, 2011

1. Will it do what I need?

2. Will it get done on time?

3. Will it fit my budget?

These are pretty much the 3 questions that any IT Manager will ask him/herself when it comes to evaluating and investing in any type of software. Open Source BI is no different. Call it an over-simplified RFI (Request for Information) or “make my CFO approve my gut feeling” checklist, these questions are essentially what you need to know to go forward with a purchasing decision.

The snippets below show how 4 Pentaho customers have answered these questions.

ZipRealty, a well known real estate firm, wanted to increase the quality and quantity of their reports to their users. Their previous BI solution was cost-prohibitive when it came to rolling out these reports to “all” their agents and district managers. ZipRealty’s Director of Business Intelligence, Salvatore Scalisi quotes: “It wasn’t economical to add the number of users we wanted. The licensing fees became substantial.”

With Pentaho, ZipRealty was able to help its agents and managers track inventory and conversion rates. They also enhanced their client services and satisfaction by rolling out analysis to their client base, allowing them see real estate listings along with embedded analysis and map-based mash ups directly from the ZipRealty’s website.

Estalea L.P., a technology incubator with strong Java programming expertise wanted to find a similar technology-base solution to prepare “data services” for its clients’ independent BI applications. In looking for a solution that was Java base, and did not require very deep technical skills, stating, “Pentaho was the only viable open source product, particularly in the ETL area.” Given that other Java ETL solutions are on a per user licensing model, Pentaho’s unlimited user license was a better option to them.

The simplicity and ease of use of Pentaho Data Integration, further enabled Estalea to save on costs by not hiring more expensive programmer staff. Jon Cotter, Director of Product Design and Technology at Estalea explains, “This way I can take on projects with people with less experience and move my senior people to other projects.”

For Loma Linda University Health Care, the value was mainly around user adoption. Loma Linda’s physicians, a non-technical group in the field of Business Intelligence and ETL, are now very interested to use Pentaho for their analysis. Historically, physicians are primarily Excel users. Their positive experience on the ease of use of Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition is absolutely clear in in the quote by Darrin Blocker, Decision Support Analyst at Loma Linda, “Just the idea of being able to select attributes and pivot that data and get a response in seconds, versus having to send in a report request and waiting for a week was a big selling point”.

Power Costs, Inc.’s goal was to offer an analytical application to its utility customers that can help them with energy bidding process. Monthly gigabytes of data and a seven-year history of data from its customers, combined with Power Costs’ own market data was processed to build these sophisticated analysis. Pentaho Analysis fit the bill.

For the volumes of data that Power Costs needed to analyze, Pentaho Data Integration was well-integrated into BI stack. According to David Nilsson, Power Costs Vice President of Product Strategy, his analysis of Pentaho’s ETL tool was “ One of the better ones that we had seen….Most vendors’ products don’t integrate as well.” The pricing model and easy integration helped Power Costs achieve ROI in less than four months.

4 customers, 4 different business use cases. They all needed Pentaho to not only deliver the functionality they needed, but also to provide them with tools that can easily be implemented and deliver results fast. Needless to say these customers had budget constraint that could not bless them to a ½ million dollar solution! To summarize their results in a few bullets, what they got out of Pentaho was:

  • Ease of use in implementation for the ETL and BI developer
  • Full integration of ETL and BI to speed project cycles
  • Letting business users make changes and see results fast, without having to wait for IT
  • Scalability of the solution for large volumes of data
  • Low cost in rolling out BI to the masses

For more information on these customers, download the white paper “Realizing the Pentaho Agile BI Opportunity: BI for the Masses and Customer Success” by Joshua Greenbaum, Principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting.

Farnaz Erfan
Product Marketing Manager
Pentaho Corporation

To read more examples of customers like Loma Linda University and Estalea experiencing success with Pentaho visit the Pentaho Customer Success webpage.


Reflections on the Wisdom of the Crowds BI Market Study

January 10, 2011

I recently came across a very interesting study that has been published by Dresner Advisory Services. The Business Intelligent market study titled, “The Wisdom of Crowds,” is written by Howard Dresner, one of the foremost thought leaders in the BI market. This in-depth market research has used a survey tactic to gather the wisdom of 457 BI users (quite a crowd!) on 32 essential metrics for choosing a BI technology. The results are astonishing.

Among the many trends two were the most interesting to me:

  1. Today, smaller BI deployments dominate across all geographies and all industries.
  2. Smaller BI deployments have started to take off in the last 2 years or so and are growing in the expense of large deployments that were once popular 5 to 15 years ago.

This is a huge market shift. 1,000+ user base deployments are no longer ideal or even desired. They have been replaced by smaller deployments for individual organizations, departments, and line of businesses.

While this is no surprise due to the economic conditions that has forced companies to cut back in their capital expenditure, including huge licensing costs just to entitle “every” user to the software and tools in hand, plus money spent on training and hiring skilled users, what has truly made this “shift” possible is the opportunity that open source BI has presented to these clients.

In my opinion, Open Source BI provides this opportunity in two ways:

1. Lower cost and easier to deploy BI software is now available. Notice that I am not just talking about the low cost here. Yes, Open Source BI has been a disruptive technology in the past couple of decades. Newer to the BI world, Open Source bears no acquisition cost for the software. Instead it offers a subscription model for support, which has made it the most attractive alternative for most clients. All the required functionality with only 10% of the cost! What else is new?!

Here, however, my emphasis is on the “easier to deploy” factor. What in the past took a symphony of data modelers, BI developers, ETL developers, data analysts, data architects, data warehouse managers, and DBAs, and a 12 month implementation cycle, is now done “only by a few and only in a few weeks”.

What does this mean for smaller organizations or even departments within larger organizations? It means that now they are able to invest in BI. Something that was not viable a few years ago. They not only don’t have to pay high dollars for BI tools, but also don’t need an exhaustive list of skills, consulting, and expertise to get going.

Dresner’s report shows exactly this. More and more smaller deployments are becoming popular in the last couple of years and are replacing the large ones that were on most corporate priority lists 5-10 years ago.

2. The second reason for this market shift is due to the connection that emerging technologies (such as open source) have made to the line of business owners. Business users have found a way to “free” themselves from IT latency. There is no question that you need your technical staff to initially set up the BI infrastructure and build the first round of reports and analysis, but that shouldn’t mean that every time you want add a dimension to your calculations, or measure something slightly different, you would have to go in a waiting list queue behind several other requests and get an answer 3-4 weeks later. Business users now realize that they can take control, and find the answers for themselves — at least in most cases.

Open Source BI has emerged to enable these folks with tools that let them manage changes in their business processes a lot faster. Dresner’s report is an evident to this fact. The study shows that business users are the most likely to chose emerging technologies over BI tools from the Titans (IBM, SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft) and the BI Pure Plays (Actuate, MicroStrategy).

I would encourage you to download and study this report further. You will be intrigued!

To conclude my points, I’d like to point out a chart from the 2010 Wisdom of Crowds Market Study (The 2011 study is underway). It shows the life cycle of all BI vendors. Several vendors matured 2 to 5 years ago. They saw the most deployments and new customer acquisitions in that time frame. But since then, their deployments have declined. Among these vendors are SAP Business Objects, Oracle, MicroSoft, IBM Cognos, and Actuate. With cobbled together tools from different acquisitions that are not integrated and require deep technical skills and long deployment cycles, not to mention the huge software acquisition costs for clients, there is no wonder to this trend. These tools are anything but suitable for small, agile, and high-value projects.

Farnaz Erfan
Product Marketing Manager
Pentaho Corporation

This blog was originally posted on  Open Source Business Intelligence


13 highlights Pentaho BI Suite Bootcamp

December 15, 2010

As the new product marketing manager at Pentaho, I wanted to write my first blog on my experience attending the four-day Pentaho BI Suite Bootcamp. This class is key to better understand the architecture of the Pentaho BI Suite and get hands on experience with the Pentaho BI Suite, ETL/Data Integration, Analysis and Reporting.

I have to say that coming from an enterprise data integration vendor such as IBM, I was a bit skeptical of any open source solution. What I expected was the bare bones: limited data type coverage, no metadata, basic data modeling and simple BI reporting. What I discovered was to the other extreme. I was taken by surprise on both the breath and the depth of the solution.

Here is my list of lucky 13 highlights from the class:

1.     Coverage of all types of data from what you expect (DB2, Oracle, & SQL Server) to Hadoop, Netezza, Teradata, SAP ERP systems, and of course MySQL and PostgreSQL.

2.     Parallel processing of data transformations – with an ‘intuitive’ UI that eliminates the need for coding. Unlike other tools in the market from both Open Source as well as major proprietary ETL vendors that are code generators, Pentaho Data Integration eliminates the need for coding. Talk about a low TCO!

3.     A shared repository gives a great opportunity for team work and collaboration in the process.

4.     Can handle very sophisticated dimensional modeling concepts – combination, degenerate, and conformed, and slowing changing dimensions, star and snow flake schemas.

5.     Power of OLAP for dynamic aggregation, so developers don’t have to figure out the reporting requirements ahead of time with SQL. This is an extraordinary piece of the puzzle.

6.     Caching and aggregate-aware constructs, so look ups don’t need to hit the database for every row. The wait times will be a lot less and latency is reduced.

7.     Removing the SQL layer for BI developers and data analysts. This has two benefits:  1. Reduces the complexity. 2. Protects databases from novice SQL users that can harm the system. Instead, a set of “business objects” (customer, product, etc) are presented for building reports and dashboards.

8.     Covers all types of reporting needs: Production reporting (for managed and high volume pixel perfect distribution), ad hoc analysis (for interactive analysis to measure business performance against time, location, product lines), operational reporting (for detailed reporting on the current state of data supporting ERP and CRM applications), and data mining (for predictive analysis to detect fraud / next best offers).

9.     Full drill in and out capabilities on reports. Can drill in from summary information to details. Can also drill from report to report with hyperlinks.

10.  Parametrized reports for the interactivity factor needed for analysis. Examples: What if I change the time dimension, or region? What changes I will see and how I need to adjust my operations accordingly?

11.  Dashboards, scorecards, and metrics that allow business users assemble previously built reports, queries, and analysis, needing “zero-training”.

12.  A quick installation got me up and ready in a few minutes. Quote from a customer in the class: “was able to kick this off in 10 minutes”. This customer has evaluated Pentaho’s other Open Source rivals and had found Pentaho to be superior.

13.  And now, for the cream of the crop…Something that the Big guys of ETL are light years behind: Pentaho’s integrated ETL, Visualization, and Modeling environment. It was really cool to be able to create a live connection to an transactional systems (OLTP), select some tables, and from there click right into the modeling and data visualization environments, analyze the content of those tables, do some profiling and decide the best ETL paths as well as best data structures for our new target schema. This was really exciting for me to see, as I have seen struggles around it before. Pentaho not only has all the pieces of the puzzle (ETL, Analysis, Modeling, OLAP, Predictive), which a lot of other vendors don’t even have, but it also has ‘integrated’ them into one development suite that helps the user walk through the process of building a BI solution one step at the time and on a consistent path to completion.

Seeing this set of “sophisticated” ETL, Data Modeling, OLAP, Visualization, and BI tools just left me with one puzzling question at the end. This is what I wrote in my notes at the end of the class:I can’t believe this is all so cheap! Where I was we used to charge hundreds if not millions of dollars for this!”

Farnaz Erfan
Product Marketing Manager
Pentaho Corporation


Agile BI from the road – reflections of a road warrior

December 14, 2010

Last week was not just the celebration of the anniversary of the Pentaho Agile BI initiative, it was also the conclusion of my detective tour throughout the US to both teach and learn about Agile BI.  I call this a detective tour because we really use these types of events to investigate and better understand just what’s going on in the marketplace and what BI challenges companies are trying to overcome. Over the past 4 months Pentaho has visited over 26 cities worldwide with the Agile BI Tour – Data to Dashboards in Minutes. I was at 15 of the cities across the US presenting on our Agile BI Initiative along with our partners.

These live, free workshops were ideal for attendees to learn because of the depth of demonstrations,  discussion of our Agile BI integration development environment and actual customer implementation examples. I personally found it very rewarding being on the ground and speaking with hundreds of BI users (or soon-to-be users). I had the usual slide presentations and demonstrations, yet found that in the majority of the cities, our time would consist of 70% Q&A and 30% slides. Along with the in-depth conversations I had with companies of all sizes across the US, I was also able to analyze the results of the survey’s we received back from almost every attendee of the Agile BI tour. Drawing from my experience on the road and survey analysis, I have four major observations of the current state of Agile BI:

  1. There remains a crying need for a better BI solution in the marketplace.
  2. In almost all of the cities, the majority of attendees were already users of existing BI solutions, mostly those from the traditional vendors such as SAP/Business Objects, IBM/Cognos, Oracle, Microstrategy and others.  While this was initially was a shock, their answers to the questionnaire revealed the dissatisfaction and challenges with existing solutions, and to a large degree, why they are looking for alternatives.
  3. An overwhelming number of attendees responded that their number one challenge with their existing BI solutions was cost followed closely by the lack of IT resources to get their projects done.  Additional related factors included the complexity of existing BI solutions and the time it takes to get BI reports.
  4. Simply put, most users of BI need better, less expensive solutions that can deliver critical analytic data and reports faster. In spite of all of the BI solutions that are available today from the traditional BI vendors, the market and users still find themselves struggling with the core basics of putting more and better BI in the hands of users.

I can’t wait until January and we are back on the road to more locations and more users with the Agile BI Tour.  And of course, we are not slowing down on the product front either with very exciting product plans in the works for next year.  For Pentaho and our users, 2011 promises to be an exciting year.

Joe Nicholson
VP Product Marketing and Agile BI Road Warrior
Pentaho


Happy 1 year anniversary Pentaho Agile BI!

December 8, 2010

Today we celebrate the one year anniversary of launching our Pentaho Agile BI initiative. Over the past year the Pentaho Agile BI initiative has received tremendous traction and praise throughout the industry and, more importantly, has impacted organizations in a positive way.

We thought an appropriate gift for our community is something that you would find insightful. For you, we have three new white papers that cover Pentaho Agile BI from different perspectives:

  • Pentaho Agile BI: An iterative methodology for fast, flexible and cost-effective Business Intelligence, by Pentaho Chief Geek/CTO, James Dixon
  • Business Intelligence at the Crossroads: The Need for Lean, Agile and Effective End-User Solutions, by Joshua Greenbaum, principal, Enterprise Applications Consulting
  • Realizing the Agile BI Opportunity, by Joshua Greenbaum, principal, Enterprise Applications Consulting

You can download the complimentary Agile BI white papers here.


150,000 installations year-to-date for Pentaho

November 15, 2010

Our most recent figures show 156,000 copies of Pentaho software were installed so far this year. These numbers are not download numbers, but installed software that has been used. This includes Pentaho servers and some Pentaho client tools. These numbers do not represent only long-term installations, but also do not represent all Pentaho’s software distributions or installations. Since these numbers are not absolutel

An analysis by country of these numbers shows interesting results.

The Long Tail

This chart shows the number of new installations year-to-date for each country. Our data shows new Pentaho installations in 176 countries so far this year. That’s out of a total of 229 countries.

This is clearly a classic long tail. In fact after the first 20 or 30 countries it is difficult to read values from the chart. This second chart uses a log scale. The line on this chart is almost perfectly linear, showing that the distribution by country is pretty much logarithmic.

Read more on James Dixon’s Blog

  • Geographic spread of the installations
  • New Installations Per $Billion GDP
  • New Installations Per 100k Labor Force
  • New Installations Per 100k Internet Users
  • About This Analysis

Pentaho’s week of Hadoop

October 15, 2010

Congrats to our new partner Cloudera for putting on a great event this week. Hadoop World 2010 was a huge success – with over 900 attendees. It was great to talk to companies using Hadoop and those looking to solve their big data problems. We were also excited to have such a great showing at our presentation at the very end of the day with standing room only!

On Wednesday, following Hadoop World, the Pentaho Agile BI Tour arrived in NYC. Pentaho and its partner Project Leadership Associates presented a special half-day seminar focused on Agile BI and Big Data. We also hosted the first of three special OEM Power Lunches for companies interested in embedding Pentaho.

For an insider’s look at our Week of Hadoop check out our slide show below.

If you missed our four announcements Tuesday about the availability of Pentaho Data Integration and Pentaho BI Suite for Hadoop and our new partnerships you can read what the press and analyst have to say:

Hadoop pitched for business intelligence
ITWorld.com,  Joab Jackson

Pentaho Adds Hadoop Support
CTO Edge, Mike Vizard

Pentaho Brings Businss intellgience to Hadoop
ECRMGuide, Paul Shread

Pentaho brings BI, integration to Hadoop
Computer Business Review, Jason Stamper

You may be thinking, what is Hadoop? If so, I recommend to check out the videos by our Chief Geek, James Dixon. 5 videos are short, to the point and very informative.

Have a great weekend!
Rebecca Shomair
Director, Corporate Communications
Pentaho Corporation

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Pentaho in October: It’s a Hadoop world, we’re just living in it

October 5, 2010

Big things are happening at Pentaho this month, with an emphasis on Big Data.  We are headlining Hadoop events in New York, London and San Diego. If you are attending Hadoop World in New York City on October 12th, make sure to stop by our booth and attend Richard Daley’s session, ‘Putting Analytics in Big Data Analysis‘.  Then stay around until the 13th for a special FREE half-day seminar, ‘Agile BI Meets Big Data‘ with our partners, Project leadership Associates.

All the while, we’re still on the road with the Agile BI Tour hitting full force in October.  We’ll be visiting 10 more cities around the world with these info-packed seminar and training sessions.  Directly following the Agile BI events in New York, San Mateo, and Houston, Pentaho will be hosting a special OEM Power Lunch, where we will explore Pentaho’s architecture, hear some specific OEM use cases, and introduce you to the Pentaho OEM team.

Hadoop Events

Join us to see how we’re simplifying the complexities of Big Data Analytics with Pentaho’s Biggest initiative to date, Pentaho for Hadoop.

Agile BI Tour : Data to Dashboards in Minutes

Business and technical users alike will benefit from these information-packed half-day seminars.  We will demonstrate and provide a step-by-step training on the Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition.

OEM Power Lunch Series : Enhance you Product with Modern Business Intelligence

Join us for lunch as we explore Pentaho’s easily embeddable architecture, specific OEM partner case studies, and introduce you to our OEM team.  These lunch sessions will take place from 12:00 – 2:00pm, directly following the Pentaho Agile BI Tour stops in the following cities:

It’s an action-packed month and we look forward to seeing you somewhere along the way.  Wishing you a Happy Halloween from Pentaho!


Where is Pentaho this September?

September 13, 2010

This Fall, we’re putting our walking shoes on and getting ready to cover the globe.  Our Agile BI Tour “Data to Dashboards in Minutes” will be traveling throughout the US and beyond this month and next to bring information-packed half-day sessions to a city near you.

Later in September, we’ll be hopping the pond to hold our first ever EMEA Partner Summit, “Rising Above”, a great opportunity for our partners in the Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to network and learn best practices directly from Pentaho experts and fellow partners.

Below you’ll find our dates and locations this September.  We look forward to seeing you!

Agile BI Tour: Data to Dashboards in Minutes

These complimentary half day seminars will give you a chance to see firsthand how Pentaho’s Agile BI Initiative is changing the way that business users and IT collaborate to build BI applications.

Keep an eye out for upcoming events in Lisbon, Madrid, Milan, New York City, Seattle, Portland, Houston, San Mateo, and many more!  We’re adding new dates everyday so be sure to check this page for additional dates and locations.

Pentaho EMEA Partner Summit 2010: Rising Above

Our first ever EMEA Partner Summit will feature two days packed with sessions, workshops, networking opportunities, and more to help prepare you to drive revenue with open source business intelligence.  You can view the full agenda for this two day event here.  The cost for this two day summit is €350 ($450) and space is very limited, so register now!


Pentaho’s BIG, Fast, and Agile August

August 4, 2010

Pentaho is hitting the road this month to show you the world’s first BI integration for Hadoop with our three-city roadshow, ‘Harnessing Hadoop for Big Data’.  Next, prepare to see blazing fast business intelligence when we pair Ingres Vectorwise with Pentaho’s Agile BI initative.

BIG – We’re rolling into town to show you how Pentaho, as the face of Hadoop, can leverage the power of business intelligence and data integration for your Big Data analysis needs.  These live seminars are free but space is limited, so be sure to register now.

  • Harnessing Hadoop for Big Data – Live Seminar Series

FAST & AGILE – See what is possible when you combine the power of Agile BI with Ingres Vectorwise, the next generation of analytic database technology during this live webcast.

  • Blazing Fast, Agile BI with Ingres VectorWise and Pentaho
    • Webcast:  Thursday, August 12th 2010

Want to learn more about Pentaho and meet the team?  This month we will be holding Classroom Training classes in Buenos Aires, Argentina and here on the home front in Orlando, Florida.

Where else can you find Pentaho?  This month and every month, we invite you to join the conversation with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Visit our Events page for more details and updated events.  Here’s to a BIG, Fast, and Agile August!


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