Open source tops the bill at Gartner BI summit

Open Source business intelligence (BI) tools were the main talking point at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit 2010 so TechEye spoke to the people that mattered at the show about how OS was affecting the BI market.

Open source were the words on everybody’s lips at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit 2010. At a panel entitled ‘Where now for BI?’ IBM, HP, SAP and QlikView discussed how open source will affect their businesses and the industry. While HP and IBM took the opportunity to examine their shoes, Anthony Deighton, QlikView Senior Vice President and Head of Products, said that OS could be extremely valuable to companies. But in his opinion, first it needed to become simple enough for people to buy.

He said he envisioned functions such as diskspace OLAP and standardised reporting, as areas that open source can be made in the future, adding that at the moment it was still too complex to do.

Brian Glissman, a Gartner analyst also mentions simplicity. Alhough he feels that OS would be better used for simple functions: “I see open source being used significantly, especially in OEM products,” he says. “It just seems to be by far the best choice for them if they’re not doing anything super complicated.”  

Glissman feels that OS can also benefit specialist sectors: “The firms that are competing in very specialised markets have to make their applications more smart, he says. “Specialised areas such as medicine or specific engineering sectors are where I see OS really taking hold.”

SAP Technology Evangelist Timo Elliot said that open source was part of the computer environment and that the ‘big boys’ like SAP could learn from what the customers wanted from open source.

“Ultimately,” he said. “Vendors are liking the accessibility of OS and we can take a lesson from that by simplifying things and letting our customers buy on subscriptions.”

The interest in open source stems from the lowered costs, making it particularly attractive in the current climate. Cutting costs is the general perception with open source, and it’s biggest selling point.

“The BI market is now mature, with more savvy CIOs trusting stable open source options,” said a spokesperson for Pentaho, which describes itself as a commercial open source alternative for business intelligence and was not showing at the summit. “For the price of a two day event [presumably referring to the Gartner Summit], an IT team can have a working model to show their superiors.”

 Although Open Source is often seen as the cheaper option, according to Gartner, the average size deal for an open-source BI contract remains approximately $30,000 for a year. Some contracts repeatedly exceed $500,000 for a multiyear support subscription, which is in the same ballpark as many commercial counterparts.

 “Open source BI has seen an interesting adoption pattern over the last few years,” said Andreas Bitterer, research vice president at Gartner. “Hardly any organization looked at open-source BI until 2004, let alone deployed it to a significant number of users, but this submarket had developed nicely, having developed consistent growth rates over the last few years.”

Gartner has predicted that the number of businesses using Open Source business intelligence tools will increase five-fold by 2012.

Earlier this month Jaspersoft Corp. announced a new version of its open-source BI software aimed at paying enterprises.