No open source decision needed for Pentaho
Seth Grimes at Intelligent Enterprise posted an article today – Open Source Decision Time for Pentaho BI. He raises some interesting points, although the article is a couple of years too late. Grimes seems to think that the addition of Lucidera’s ClearView into the Pentaho Enterprise Edition is, or indicates, a change in direction for Pentaho. This is not the case. Pentaho has had enterprise features for several years.
In the article, prompted by Pentaho’s recent acquisition of some of Lucidera’s IP, he writes:
That this centerpiece Enterprise Edition component was not and is not open source invites a question. Is Pentaho, founded as a “commercial open source” BI vendor, still an open-source company? Pentaho itself seems unsure.
It is good to question the actions of any vendor, open source or not, but this question makes no sense to me. If Pentaho was an “open source” BI vendor before this acquisition, and since all the open source software is still available, how can its status have changed?
Grimes also states that:
Analyst Merv Adrian characterizes Pentaho as “open core,” which seems like a very apt description. The Pentaho BI Suite’s basic components are open source, and non-open source elements are based on open standards. Neither reliance on an open core nor past exclusive use of open source components, however, is not sufficient for Pentaho to continue to call itself, at this juncture, a “commercial open source” company.
Pentaho, the company, seems itself of two minds about its status.
Personally I don’t like the term ‘open core’, but of all of the currently used terms, it is the closest to Pentaho’s business model. My objection to it, in Pentaho’s case, is that we offer much more than a ‘core’ in open source.
Grimes also seems, through the use of double or triple negatives, to imply that maybe Pentaho cannot call itself a “commercial open source” company any more, or is getting close to some boundary. The problem here is that there is no formal definition of the term “commercial open source”, and Grimes does not provide his definition. Some people have an inclusive definition, some people (ironically often the ‘free software’ advocates) have a very narrow and exclusive definition.
Since he raises the issue, we are not in two minds at all. Pentaho and it communities provides, in open source:
- An OLAP engine (Mondrian) with web-based slice-dice (JPivot)
- An ETL engine (Kettle)
- A report engine (formerly JFreeReport) with web-based ad-hoc reporting
- A BI platform with out-of-the-box web server and web-app deployments
- A Dashboard framework – CDF
- A metadata layer
This is more open source functionality than any other commercial open source BI vendor provides, and more than any open source community has managed to create. There are many thousands of implementations of these open source packages running around the world.
Pentaho Corporation provides to its customers:
- Additional features, functionality, and services that mainly provide a lower cost-of-ownership and faster development cycles.
For many open source vendors messaging in press releases and on websites is in continual evolution. The business models themselves are being refined – Alfresco over the past few years has switched from an open-core model to a services-only model, and then back to open-core again.
Still, I suppose those people who desire absolute messaging clarity from their software vendors, rather than good software with an exceptional value proposition, have every right to object.