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Executive Summary

Open Source Solutions: Managing, Analyzing and Delivering Business Information

Executive Summary and Key Findings

Venture capital flooding into open source start-ups over the past several years resulted in an explosion of enterprise-ready tools and applications. Many of these start-ups are focused on the business intelligence market. Open source rose quickly in the information management market, from almost nothing a few years ago to community and commercially supported projects for every possible use.

The goal of this report is to explain aspects of the usage, challenges and practices of organizations adopting open source in the business intelligence and data warehouse market. Key questions explored in this research were:

  • What organizations are using open source in the BI/DW segment of the market?
  • What software is being deployed?
  • What are the benefits and challenges?

The survey found that interest and adoption are widespread. One-third of respondents stated they use open source reporting, data integration or database software for analytic uses. More than one-third are currently evaluating open source alternatives. Only 12% reported no plans to use open source.

The top reason for adoption is still cost savings, although reduced vendor dependence and ease of integration followed closely behind. Some companies used open source deployments as a means of keeping their incumbent vendors honest.

Highlights of the survey findings include:

  • When dealing with database performance problems, people are more than twice as likely to migrate a data warehouse to an analytic database as they are to a different traditional database, open source or not.
  • While this is good news for analytic database vendors, it's not that good because people are still married to their current choice of database. They are more likely to change, redesign or replace every other tool in the BI stack before replacing the database.
  • In all software categories except advanced analytics, the most commonly used open source projects were from commercial open source vendors. The perception that open source is done largely by amateurs and volunteers is not true in this market.
  • Experience breeds adoption. Organizations with less than one year of experience with open source use only one open source product, i.e., a BI tool, while the rest of the system is built from proprietary software. If the organization has been using open source longer, it is likely to be using more tools in different categories. All organizations with more than three years of production use are using more than one open source product.
  • Open source is all about new projects. More than half the usage of open source was for new projects, with minimal focus on replacing existing tools. This is good news for open source projects and vendors, and potentially bad news for traditional vendors. It means open source is being adopted in the growth areas of the market, and that could be taking new customers from traditional vendors or taking away the mid-to-smaller-sized organizations which have previously been priced out of the market.
  • Traditional BI and data integration vendors have been introducing midmarket programs as they look for growth. By losing new projects or midmarket companies, they lose revenue in the fastest growing part of the BI market.
  • There's a fine line between a community edition of an open source project and crippleware, and some vendors are crossing that line. By holding back features in the community edition in order to entice people to pay for the professional version, some vendors are inadvertently turning away customers. Survey respondents complained that some community versions were feature limited or scale limited to the point where they couldn't be used on a real project.

The primary complaints about open source are related to maturity of the software, lack of internal skills and availability of consulting services. Given the rapid pace of innovation in open source projects, the gap in both core features and maturity between open source and traditional vendors is quickly closing.

Roughly one-third of open source users are purchasing services and support from open source vendors today. Based on this pattern in what is largely an early adopter segment, expect the commercial open source vendors to continue their growth.

Read the entire study.