What is open source business intelligence?
Open source BI are BI software can be distributed for free and permits users to modify the source code. Open source software is available in all BI tools, from data modeling to reporting to OLAP to ETL.
Because open source software is community driven, it relies on the community for improvement. As such, new feature sets typically come from community contribution rather than as a result of dedicated R&D efforts.
Advantages of open source BI tools
Easy to get started
With traditional BI software, the business model typically involves a hefty startup cost, and then there is an annual fee for support and maintenance that is calculated as a percentage of the initial purchase price. In this model, a company needs to spend a substantial amount of money before any benefit is realized. With the substantial cost also comes the need to go through a sales cycle, from the RFP process to evaluation to negotiation, and multiple teams within the organization typically get involved. These factors mean that it's not only costly to get started with traditional BI software, but the amount of time it takes is also long.
With open source BI, the beginning of the project typically involves a free download of the software. Given this, bureaucracy can be kept to a minimum and it is very easy and inexpensive to get started.
Because of its low startup cost and the typically lower ongoing maintenance/support cost, the cost for open source BI software is lower (sometimes much lower) than traditional BI software.
Easy to customize
By definition, open source software means that users can access and modify the source code directly. That means it is possible for developers to get under the hood of the open source BI tool and add their own features. In contrast, it is much more difficult to do this with traditional BI software because there is no way to access the source code.
Disadvantages of open source BI tools
Features are not as robust
Traditional BI software vendors put in a lot of money and resources into R&D, and the result is that the product has a rich feature set. Open source BI tools, on the other hand, rely on community support, and hence do not have as strong a feature set.
Consulting help not as readily available
Most of the traditional BI software - MicroStrategy, Business Objects, Cognos, Oracle and so on, have been around for a long time. As a result, there are a lot of people with experience with those tools, and finding consulting help to implement these solutions is usually not very difficult. Open source BI tools, on the other hand, are a fairly recent development, and there are relatively few people with implementation experience. So, it is more difficult to find consulting help if you go with open source BI.
Open source BI tool vendors