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Pentaho and Jaspersoft: Good Alternatives To Bigger-Name Software? 57

Nerval's Lobster writes "Jeff Cogswell, the developer who recently offered a 'gentle' rant about the current state of software development and installers, returns with a comparison of two players in the open-source BI space, Pentaho and Jaspersoft. 'If you believe the hype, the business-intelligence tools offered by some of the world's largest software companies also pack a substantial punch,' he writes. 'But these systems are often difficult to install and maintain, not to mention downright expensive. Small and medium-sized businesses typically can't afford software platforms that cost upwards of several hundred thousand dollars, but that doesn't mean they're cut off from BI tools in general. In fact, there are some decent open-source options.'"
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Pentaho and Jaspersoft: Good Alternatives To Bigger-Name Software?

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  • Freemium (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lucm ( 889690 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @01:24PM (#42327133)

    Those are products which have different licenses for the "community" edition and the "real" ones. I've used both and even the commercial editions are quite unpleasant to deal with, plus they steer you to a proprietary stack, just like more mature offerings (Cognos, BO, Oracle, Microsoft, etc.)

    Commercial BI products are usually either brutal or too clever for their own good. Those two, Jasper and Pentaho, are more of the same, plus they feel like you need to have the guy who designed them to sit besides you and explain what to do. And community/forum-driven support is not that great.

    The most interesting open reporting solution is definitely BIRT, it runs circle around Jasper: []

    • by j_kenpo ( 571930 )

      Or the community website at []

      I am definitely more of a BIRT fan for reporting, but thats not to say that the Pentaho suite doesn't have its advantages too. I personally like their ETL tool and prefer it over tools like TalonD. But that is a personal preference.

      • Hi.

        I think you meant Talend [], right?

        I have used the ETL functions of both Pentaho and Talend, as well as Informatica (and MS SSIS a smidgen). Right now, I am using Talend Open Studio for several production integration worfklows. It works well. The only issue I have with it is that you need to know some Java syntax, at least, to create calculations and expressions. Since I am not very fluent in Java, that makes Talend a little tougher for me to use.

        The BIRT suite has always sounded impressive. If I
    • We use Jasper, just the open source version, and for us it's fine.

      The learning curve sucks and the documentation isn't great, but we came to Jasper from Crystal Reports. We were using a version of Crystal server software that was $650 per server, period, in 2003. When we last talked to Crystal in 2009, it was $7500 per server [i]per year[/i]. I'm sure Fortune 1000 companies wouldn't blink at that kind of expense, but when we got the email with the quote from their sales team it went around the IT depar
  • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @01:24PM (#42327139)
    Stop associating open source with buzzwords, Point [] .

    These are essentially reporting tools, and I saw mention of ETL, which seemed conceptually similar to DTS/SSIS packages. Reporting is a part of business intelligence sure, but if it's the only intelligence your business has, you probably don't have one, or won't have one for long.

    Also, I started my IT career writing reports, I don't miss it, if I was to even consider writing reports for a business, I'd require BIDS & SSRS period, then again probably I probably wouldn't do it anyways :)
    • If you don't know what ETL is you shouldn't be making any BI-related commentary. Also, stop using so many MS-specific acronyms.

    • I have been a full-time independent Crystal Reports consultant since 1995. I have helped hundreds of customers improve their business with nothing more than a copy of Crystal Reports and (if needed) a third party tool for scheduling or Email delivery or end user viewing. None of my clients would have a use for these 'full stack' BI tools. They may be free but the cost in time to implement them and even to understand what they do is not free. I have found that $450 for a copy of Crystal and maybe a few hu

  • I wish the summary explained what BI is, for all of us that are too lazy to click on TFA and find out ourselves.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Desler ( 1608317 )

      BI = Big Idiots. As in "Only Big Idiots buy into buzzwordy BI tools".

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @01:33PM (#42327263)

      Business Inelegance.

      Simply put, they are reporting and statistical and analytical tools.

      • Re:WTF is BI? (Score:4, Informative)

        by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @01:34PM (#42327281)

        Dag Nabbit!
        Business Intelligence Curse you Chrome Spell check!

        • Granted Business Inelegance fits with the tools too.

        • As a regular user of iReport, you were right the first time
          • Seconded. Thirded. Motion Passed.

            Simple example, adding a title image to a report in iReport. Works fine until you publish to a JasperServer, then 404. First up it puts the absolute path to the image into the report even when the image is in the same folder as the report. Then to see the image in the server, you gotta reference repo:image.jpg instead of image.jpg. That's a simple thing to fix to use one reference model in iReport and the server side.

            Unless I've missed a local repo definition in iReport, t

        • Curse you Chrome Spell check!

          Chrome is more astute than you think...

    • BI puts people like you into a OLAP cube and tells us what are the two largest quartiles of major metropolitan areas where people were too lazy to click on TFA and how many Starbucks in those areas which also happened to sell "Super-Pay-Attention Kenyan Ultra Blend" beans took a loss on that particular item.

  • I have about 30 years experience as a SAS user and have done a number of installations. However SAS is expensive and can be very complex to install. Pentaho is extremely easy to install and it's ETL tool is very powerful with an intuitive user interface, especially when you realise all this data processing power is available for free! When I look at the power of open source tools like Pentaho I think Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, probably has a few restless nights.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @01:31PM (#42327229)

    How much of the BI tool do most organizations use?

    The real issue is that most businesses spend all this money for the tool they barely utilize. They let their Corporate EGO get in the way, figuring that they deserve the best out there. While all they really want is a basic Reporting Tool, or a dashboard. As well they get caught in the we may need it in the future trap. Where most of the time the cost of migrating from an old system to a new one, is less than the continued maintenance and support of the bigger product.

    For most organizations they just need a number of small self developed applications/Database Queries, mixed with simple reporting that display key metrics.
    However they will tend to buy the beast of the system use the basic features, where setup is the same as developing it yourself + the Extra cost of the system + Extra Time, because the system was designed to do more that means the implementation staff if going thru extra hoops to get things done.

    They buy the tool, then they come up with projects for it. While they should be going the other way, list the projects they need done and find the tool for the job.

    I am OK with the Multi-Million Dollar systems, they do their job however companies should get smarter on deciding if and when they should switch over.

    • I've had to deal with a number of these tools throughout my career and the one thing that sticks in my mind with all of them is how difficult they are to install and learn, and how expensive they all are. Not ONE package was run out of the box in any of the installations I've dealt with, all required a number of customizations to fit the needs of the org it was installed for. Not too sure how you fix that, obviously bidness needs and all that.
      • Now the extra work and expense would be worth it, if the company had a BI strategy behind it. Get it setup first then rerun many times over. Which may be better than a lot of smaller home built programs.

  • No mention of BIRT (Score:4, Informative)

    by j_kenpo ( 571930 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @01:41PM (#42327401)

    Where is BIRT in this list? BIRT is open source and a top level Eclipse project. It is fully featured out of the box, is extensible, and is implemented and backed by several large companies. It is supported by every major Open Source reporting server (Pentaho, SpagoBI), and for enterprise conscious folks there is a commercial option. And it does away with that god awful banded report design model that is a hold over from the ancient Crystal Reports in favor of a more flexible report design paradigm. My guess is that Pentaho and Jasper paid SlashBI more money for a front page slashvertisement.

    • BIRT is great but it's not a full BI suite. That said, we did select it here for reporting vs Pentaho's reporting. We have over 8,000 US locations generating reporting off of it daily and it works reliably with minimal issues.

  • ... and I like them. I'm a geologist who got stuck handling all of the lab data for my company. We make building products (think stucco and plaster- lots of mixture designs and standardized test procedures). We're also a small business, and we don't have the money to hire someone solely to handle IT or even to buy one of the commercial packages.

    What we've got: a PostgreSQL database that holds data for Manufacturing and R&D.

    The problem this solved: reporting.

    Originally, I wrote a custom program that

  • by Invisible Now ( 525401 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:04PM (#42328495)

    Dreaded Microsoft has SQL Server packages including SQL Server, SSIS ETL tools, SSAS OLAP and SSRS Reporting with licenses starting well under $2,000. Much better than Oracle's cobbled-together BI at a fraction of the price.

    Hold your disgust and consider this fully functional, enterprise quality BI suite. Good support and good community, too.

  • by billybob_jcv ( 967047 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @03:35PM (#42328937)
    The frontend analytics tools are cool and that's what the users will see and use - but the main thing missing in the opensource BI space are the deep library of views and templates for the big ERP systems like Oracle EBS/PeopleSoft/JDE/Fusion & SAP. I don't want to spend thousands of hours writing my own views and ETL routines just to create standard reports. If you are developing your own software and bundling Jaspersoft/Pentaho/etc as your reporting engine, fine - but if you are a corporate IT shop using a major ERP system, then I would rather buy one that didn't make me reinvent the wheel.
    • by Forbman ( 794277 )

      The problem with those, as anyone who has worked with those systems, is that the canned reports are quite generic. At best, for a decent-sized enterprise, they're starting points for the business report writers. Been there, done that, too many times. So, you either roll your own or customize what's there to fit the idiosyncrasies of your company's accounting and ways of doing business. NO company fits the Chart of Accounts exactly how it is set up in the default COA's of accounting systems. So there goes ma

  • If you want support for it ... good luck.

    We were looking at Pentaho two years ago. Filled in the web form, called their number four times and every time I just got an answering machine.
    Nobody ever called back.

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