Dashboard Insight recently spoke with Pentaho's Richard Daley about his BI offerings, the GPL, cloud computing - and his observation that so much is going on while the Florida Gators are winning championships!
Dashboard Insight: Tell us about the history of Pentaho.
Richard Daley: Pentaho was founded in October 2004 as the pioneer in commercial open source business intelligence. Most of 2005 was spent ironing out the business model and building a strong team of business intelligence and commercial open source leaders – people with passion for BI and open source, and expertise in both. On the technology side, a lot of work was done up front to build a platform that could integrate end-to-end BI capabilities, scale and perform as well as if not better than the big guys, yet still remain modular if customers only needed one piece of the overall product suite.
We began with reporting and analysis and then in 2006 we added data integration and data mining capabilities through the acquisition of existing best-in-class open source projects. In 2007, we began building out the sales team and partner ecosystem and now, in just a few short years, we have customers around the world, in all different industry verticals, ranging from small organizations to the Fortune 50. Let’s not forget that during these four years the Florida Gators, my alma mater, won two football and two basketball national championships.
DI: Can you tell us a bit about the differences between your community and enterprise edition BI suite offerings?
RD: Pentaho Enterprise Edition products extend the community editions with value-added software and services designed to help customers achieve BI success while saving time and money. Only the enterprise editions come with unlimited technical support, software maintenance and certified, stabilized versions of the software. From a feature perspective, Pentaho Enterprise Edition products have enhanced functionality that is primarily geared towards simplifying deployment and administration in production environments, in our Enterprise Console, as well as in enhanced self-service dashboards and reporting for business users.
DI: Tell us about your Pentaho Dashboards product. What types of companies are using Pentaho Dashboards?
RD: Pentaho Dashboards is one of our most popular offerings. It lets users quickly access key metrics and performance indicators in a visually rich, easy-to-understand interface. A wide range of companies from retail stores to billion-dollar financial institutions have implemented dashboards and scorecards using Pentaho to drive greater insight into organizational performance. For example, Specsavers, a multi-billion Euro retailer in Europe rolled out dashboards to 2000 retail stores to track consistent store-level and company-wide KPIs.
Boyne Resorts deployed Pentaho dashboards integrated with Google Maps for location analysis enabling them to better understand profitability and customer behavior across its numerous mountain and golf resorts throughout the United States and Canada. Through a web-based, zero-training dashboard designer business users can easily assemble their own custom dashboards that include Adobe Flash-based visualizations, information from Pentaho reports as well as interactive analysis views.
DI: Can you explain GPL and why it is used for many of your products licensing?
RD: The GNU General Public License, known as the GPL, is the most widely used open source software license and it’s estimated that more than 70% of open source projects use it. The GPL is well understood by the market and the legal community and is used for MySQL, Java and the Linux kernel and many other mainstream open source projects. In very simple terms, the practical implication of the GPL license is that it means that people who want to commercially distribute the product either need to make their extensions available in open source, or to establish a commercial relationship with Pentaho.
DI: How does Pentaho’s BI Suite compare with competitive commercial applications?
RD: Pentaho delivers end-to-end business intelligence capabilities via a commercial open source model that can lower total cost of ownership by 90% compared to traditional, proprietary BI offerings. Pentaho has eliminated the large, up-front software license fees, per-user charges, and other manufactured costs typically charged by the big BI vendors. So with Pentaho, they get everything they’re used to in terms of a complete BI suite with professional support, maintenance and documentation, but at a dramatically lower cost. In fact, we have one of the most recognizable lists of customers that have switched from their proprietary BI vendors to use Pentaho.
Pentaho has a modern, fully integrated and standards-based architecture that fits easily into any IT infrastructure and offers greater simplicity for both IT and business users alike. And we’re not just offering “the same old stuff” delivered via open source. We were the first to deliver dashboard mashups with Google Maps, the first BI vendor to support the iPhone, and a leader in cloud BI. Our frequent release cycle and our active community let us move very quickly both to be responsive to customers, and to innovate.
DI: The weak economy has affected all businesses, some perhaps for the better. Are you seeing an increase in your open source community license customer base due to constrained budgets during the recession? And how are organizations implementing open source solutions as complements to existing traditional DBMS, DI and BI tools?