Open source BI tool claims mass adoption

Analysts question vendor's penetration, however

Open-source business intelligence vendor JasperSoft is claiming that it is now the world's most widely deployed BI product.

"That will probably come as a surprise to a lot of people," says CEO Brian Gentile.

The San Francisco company claims its core product has been downloaded more than 3 million times, and that it has 65,000 registered developers, more than 80,000 "production deployments", 300-plus projects ongoing at JasperForge.org, and more than 8,000 commercial customers in 96 countries.

Observers of the BI space said the company's popularity claims should be viewed in the proper light.

"The key here is open source (free) versus commercial licence implementations," says Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson. "I don't really track open source BI that closely, since it's usually used by developers to embed some portion of the code in other applications. The commercial version of JasperSoft (that comes with support, upgrades, documentation and a few features not available under open source license) is far from being the most widely deployed in the world."

David O'Connell, an analyst with Nucleus Research, also says reality may differ from what the company's numbers suggest. "They're open source and have tons of downloads from developers, but I wonder how many BI end-users are out there," he says. "Nucleus interviews lots of companies that have deployed BI. We always ask who they considered when they bought, and JasperSoft has never come up."

By "production deployments", JasperSoft means instances where an organisation has taken one or more of its products and put it into some type of production use, Gentile says.

Nick Halsey, vice president of marketing at JasperSoft, says 30% of the company's 8,000 commercial customers are in the Fortune 500/Global 2000 category, while the remaining 70% are in the mid-market. "'With larger companies, you can guarantee they have more than one BI tool," he says, adding, "in the mid-market there's a significantly higher chance we're the first BI tool they've used."

The company says it also has integrations or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) relationships with a number of open-source relational database management systems, including Ingres, EnterpriseDB, MySQL and Greenplum Bizgres.

Gentile repeatedly cited the scope and strength of JasperSoft's developer base. To that end, the company is set to release a tool, the The Community Vibrancy Index, for tracking the health of an open-source community, under the Creative Commons licence.

The index derives a health score by weighing a broad series of metrics, including an open-source project's ranking on Sourceforge, the number of related forum posts and the number of downloads. "We tried to get more scientific about how we measured the health of the community," Gentile says.

In addition, the company is set to release a number of upgrades to the community edition of its BI suite. The features include a Flash exporter for working with Adobe's Flex development environment and support for the JSR-168 portal integration standard. The company also says its software now has support for more than 20 languages.

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