Dashboard Insight recently spoke with Jedox's Markus Roithmeier about giving away his source code, his Palo BI Suite - and why a weak economy can be a good time to look at open source solutions.
Dashboard Insight: Tell us about the history of Palo and Jedox.
Markus Roithmeier: Jedox is one of the world’s leading suppliers of open source-based business intelligence and corporate performance-management solutions. The company was founded by Kristian Raue in 2002 and employs 60 people, with more than 25 working in R&D. We have offices in Germany, the UK and France, plus 25 global partners covering more than 45 countries.
Our core product, Palo, accommodates the entire range of BI requirements including planning, reporting and analysis under a Software as a Service model that allows all BI processes to be performed in the web browser. In addition to handling reporting and planning forms online, users can also import data, design and model cubes and reports via the web. More than 3300 organizations in Germany and abroad have implemented Jedox solutions, including well-known companies such as Quelle, Clariant Switzerland and Nycomed Germany.
Our Palo BI Suite 3.0 was released this summer, which includes the Palo MOLAP database, a web front end for “Excel in the web,” ETL (extract, transform and load) for data integration and a workflow-management solution.
DI: Where do you sit on the BI stack?
MR: We sit on the CPM site with a solution for planning, reporting and analysis. We provide an ETL solution, data store (MOLAP), Excel Plug-in and worksheet server, which is the web solution of the Palo BI Suite.
DI: Earlier this year, you unveiled Palo BI Suite 3.0 which is based on open source products without any license fees. What features are included with this new version?
MR: We have put together all the elements we had available on their own, such as the Palo ETL, the Palo OLAP server and the front ends - worksheet server and Palo Excel Add in - into a full BI suite. The ETL has been upgraded to version 3.0 and the worksheet server that has been updated to version 3.0. We are constantly in the process of further developing the elements of the BI Suite.
DI: You give away your source code for free in your community version and generate revenue via your enterprise version. What are the differences between the two offerings?
MR: With the Enterprise Edition, we offer customer support as well as software insurance. Also we made available the SAP connectivity and the supervision server for extended control over the data process. All other features apart from these exceptions as well as all updates are available for the Community Edition.
DI: How does your Palo BI Suite compare with competitive commercial applications?
MR: The features the competition has to offer are in many ways similar - you get the data integration, analysis, reporting and cockpit features which are standard nowadays in the BI market. But with the Palo BI Suite, we offer the market an important feature that only few competitors can provide: planning. Our software allows you to plan budgets etc. very simply via e.g. splashing, writebacks, and other functions that are implemented in our Community and our Enterprise Editions.
An additional plus is that the user does not have to get used to a new user interface or adjust to new given application sets. The user can simply use the well-known and most common, BI front end, Excel.
DI: The weak economy has affected all businesses, some perhaps for the better. Are you seeing an increase in your open source license customer base due to constrained budgets during the recession?
MR: Yes. Due to low budgets available in the industries, entry into various markets has become somewhat easier for open source companies. There's also a growing acceptance in open source solutions, as people learn there are companies behind an open source project that are responsible to their employees and their community.
DI: In your opinion, are the world’s largest software companies finally taking an interest in open source BI?
MR: Yes. Oracle’s acquisition of Sun and the open source solutions they provided proves this, as does IBM with Linux. And supporting open source within the technology stack, the largest companies are of course taking an interest; maybe this hasn’t filtered down to the BI stack yet but watch this space. Within the traditional BI space there is significant interest in the open source BI space as costs are cut.
Mainly in Germany, we are seeing that the proprietary software companies are starting to co-operate with us by bundling and jointly working on customer solutions.
DI: What is the process if someone wants to evaluate your solutions (Community and Enterprise)?
MR: Simply download the Palo BI Suite from our website www.jedox.com or download the Palo Excel Add in to start with. All products are free of charge in the community version. Interested readers may also join us for a webinar, where we show the advantages of the Palo BI suite in a free 30-minute online presentation.
DI: What can we expect to see from Palo/Jedox in the coming months?
MR: There's a lot going on. The roadmap for this year and next includes the integration of additional data providers for DynaRanges, more chart types and chart format options, advanced functionality - and we also plan to run Palo on GPU processors. This project is worked on in cooperation with the Freiburg University / DFG and Amitava Datta from the University of Perth.
Markus Roithmeier joined Jedox AG in early 2009 as Vice President Global Sales and Marketing. He is responsible for all sales, consultancy and marketing for the D-A-CH region, as well as for the company's international expansion. Roithmeier brings to the role more than 15 years of experience in sales and marketing within the software industry. Before joining Jedox, he was Managing Director and member of the international management team at QlikTech. Prior to this, he worked as Senior Consultant for the UK PA Consulting Group, where he gained wide experience in the setting up and expansion of international sales organizations. Roithmeier studied economics at the University of Nürnberg/Erlangen and at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf.