I always predicted that Open Source BI has to reach critical mass before it becomes a viable alternative for large enterprise BI platforms. All the individual components (a mixture of Open Source BI projects and commercial vendor wrappers around them) are slowly but surely catching up to their bigger closed source BI brothers. Talend and Kettle (a Pentaho led project) offer data integration components like ETL, Mondrian and Palo (SourceForge projects) have OLAP servers, BIRT (an Eclipse project), Actuate, Jaspersoft and Pentaho have impressive reporting components, Infobright innovates with columnar dbms well suited for BI, and productized offerings from consulting companies like European based Engineering Ingegneria Informatica – SpagoBI – offer some Open Source BI component integration.
However, even large closed source BI vendors that acquired multiple BI components over the years still struggle with full, seamless component integration. So what chance do Open Source BI projects and vendors with independent leadership structure and often varying priorities have for integrating highly critical BI components such as metadata, data access layers, GUI, common prompting/sorting/ranking/filtering approaches, drill-throughs from one product to another, etc? Today, close to none. However, a potential consolidation of such products and technologies under one roof can indeed create a highly needed critical mass and give these individual components a chance to grow into large enterprise quality BI solutions.
I had an amazing client experience the other day. I searched long and hard for a client with flawless, perfect, 100% efficient and effective BI environment and applications. My criteria were tough and that's why it took me so long (I've been searching for as long as I've been in the BI business, almost 30 years). These applications had to be plug & play, involve little or no manual setup, be 100% automated, incorporate all relevant data and content, and allow all end users to self service every single BI requirement. Imagine my utter and absolute amazement when I finally stumbled on one.
The most remarkable part was that this was a very typical large enterprise. It grew over many years by multiple acquisitions, and as a result had many separate and disconnected front and back office applications, running on various different platforms and architectures. Its senior management suffered from a typical myopic attitude, mostly based on immediate gratification, caused by compensation structure that rewarded only immediate tangible results, and did not put significant weight and emphasis on long term goals and plans. Sounds familiar? If you haven't worked for one of these enterprises, the color of the sky in your world is probably purple.