Dashboard Insight recently spoke with Jaspersoft's Brian Gentile about measuring Jaspersoft's global reach, its place in the BI stack - and the benefits of the open source model for business customers.
Dashboard Insight: Tell us about the history of Jaspersoft.
Brian Gentile: Jaspersoft’s roots are in Europe where our technical co-founders, Teodor Danciu and Giulio Toffoli, created JasperReports and iReport – two of our core Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite products.
Teodor started the JasperReports open source project in 2001. He did so to answer an important need within the Java developer community: to provide a modern, robust, Java-based open source reporting library and engine. Giulio then developed iReport a year later in order to provide report developers with an intuitive, visual report designer for JasperReports.
A few years later, Jaspersoft was launched as an open source company and since then, we’ve had tremendous success expanding our partner and customer networks, adding more depth and functionality to our core suite of products and most importantly, becoming the world’s most widely used business intelligence software.
Eight years after our humble beginnings as an open source project, Jaspersoft is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Europe and a distribution network and customer base that spans the globe. We’ve experienced pretty incredible growth, which illustrates the market demand for flexible, easy-to-use and affordable business intelligence solutions for especially those who have been under-served or over-charged by aged, proprietary BI products and tools.
DI: You claim to be the most widely used BI software in the world, how is this measured?
BG: We take great pride in making this statement, because we’re very transparent about how we measure our market penetration and growth. We measure our overall usage in the market through conservative estimates based on our downloads and sales of support, training and documentation – which we believe provide a reasonable basis to know how many organizations have put our products into some genuine commercial use. We publish these numbers regularly and explain how we derive them. Especially important is our transparency in counting core product downloads. Counting only core product downloads is an important clarification to make, considering some open source vendors count 10 different product components as 10 downloads (we count a complete package download as just one).
We also use and publish our Community Vibrancy Index (CVI) to understand the health and vibrancy of our community – to help ensure we are doing everything possible for it to grow and thrive.
Because Jaspersoft’s products are easily embeddable and built on a modern architecture, we suspect our “footprint” is even larger than what we can firmly support with our measurements. Components of the Jaspersoft BI suite are embedded in hundreds of thousands of solutions across all industries. Currently, Jaspersoft has more than 8.5 million total downloads worldwide and more than 10,000 commercial customers in 96 countries. It’s also worth noting that our JasperForge community has more than 94,000 registered members working on more than 350 projects.
DI: What areas of the BI stack do your solutions cover?
BG: Jaspersoft provides a core BI suite that satisfies the reporting and analytic requirements of any organization, regardless of budget or deployment size. In fact, with the introduction of Jaspersoft v3.5 (introduced in April 2009), our scalability features are greatly enhanced for our largest customers.
The core components of the BI suite are JasperServer, JasperAnalysis, JasperETL and JasperReports. It is built on a web-based architecture that includes functionality for all primary uses of a business intelligence platform, including operational reporting, interactive ad-hoc query & reporting, dashboarding, production reporting, data analysis and data integration.
DI: Why would a potential client consider an open source solution? What are the benefits? And what’s the downside?
BG: Open source software, specifically open source BI software, is helping to inform the decisions of a new enterprise environment. The enterprise is rapidly evolving for two reasons: a major workforce demographic transition from baby boomers to 20-somethings who expect sophisticated yet easy-to-use software; and because cost-savings are a bigger priority than ever before in the history of the modern IT industry. We believe that both of these effects will become more pronounced in the future.
Because Jaspersoft’s BI suite is built using open source software, it can sustain a modern architecture that quickly adapts to the expectations of a new generation of workers and provide an extremely affordable option in a market where traditional offerings are bloated and ineffective. Therefore, Jaspersoft’s tools adhere to the four most important principles of modern web-based application design: collaboration, customization, elegant presentation, and consistent accessibility from any device.
DI: As an open source vendor, what is your business model? How do you generate revenue?
BG: Jaspersoft operates under what we call the “open core” licensing model. We generate revenue primarily from sales of Jaspersoft Professional Edition products, but also from products and services available in the Jaspersoft Store (http://www.jaspersoft.com/jasperstore) – tools such as our “Ultimate Guides” product documentation, incident-based support, web-based training, special-purpose software utilities that extend the capabilities of our products, and more.
I have written in some detail regarding the open core model in my blog: http://openbookonbi.blogspot.com/2009/02/open-core-model-offers-best-opportunity.html
DI: Tell us about your customers, who uses your solutions?
BG: As the world’s most widely used business intelligence software, Jaspersoft is used literally by organizations of all sizes: Fortune 500 companies as well as government agencies, nonprofit organizations and academic institutions, among others. I visit customers who are using Jaspersoft to inform business decisions that will impact a global network of customers, partners and employees. And, I also visit customers who are embedding Jaspersoft into existing applications - both on-premise and SaaS-based - to enhance reporting and analysis capabilities.
Also, acting as an OEM to many other independent software vendors, we’ve become the standard, embeddable BI inside so many other software products and projects. In short, Jaspersoft’s Suite is so flexible that I’m always pleased when I visit customers to see the variety of ways they’re using our software.
DI: What new developments are in the works that you would be able to share with us?
BG: With our most recent release, Jaspersoft v3.5, we have integrated a complete multi-tenant architecture, enhanced user and data scalability, and provided easy-to-use integrated analysis that does not require a data warehouse or OLAP server. This release also includes a SaaS-enabled platform to meet the “on-demand” software market.
Now, we turn our attention toward Jaspersoft v4, which is expected late this year. What we’re especially proud of is that we’ve been able to take open source BI beyond merely “catching up” with the features and functionality of the aged, proprietary vendors to bringing to market new, cutting-edge capabilities appropriate for today’s enterprise worker. So Jaspersoft is not just driving much greater value (price/performance) for its customers, it’s delivering genuine innovation as well.
Brian Gentile brings to Jaspersoft a 22-year track record of success in helping to build and lead prominent technology companies’ product and go-to-market strategies. Most recently, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Informatica Corporation and previously, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Brio Software. Prior to Brio, he was as a Vice President at Sun Microsystems after leading Apple’s Evangelism and Developer Relations team. Brian's professional affiliations include nearly seven years as a Public Governor on the board of the Pacific Stock & Options Exchange (now owned by the New York Stock Exchange) and he continues to serve as a public member of the NYSE’s Ethics and Business Conduct Committee. Additionally, he has provided founding board member assistance for several Silicon Valley start-up ventures and currently serves as a Supervisory Board Member for WCC, a Netherlands-based searching and matching technology company. Brian earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from the University of Arizona.