Pentaho Goes “Open Core” With Lucidera OLAP Viewer

Open-source BI vendor Pentaho has purchased technology rights from failed BI SaaS vendor LucidEra, and plans to combine LucidEra’s Clearview, a reporting and analysis OLAP front end for non-technical users, with the Mondrian open source OLAP engine used by Pentaho Analysis,  in a new offering called Pentaho Analyzer Enterprise Edition, available both on-premise and on-demand. Clearview will not be available in the free community edition of Pentaho. Existing Pentaho Analysis Enterprise Edition and Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition customers will not be charged additional fees. Clearview adds substantial value to the priced portion of Pentaho’s portfolio – another example of the “open core” business model. Open core is not without its detractors, and a brief flurry of chatter erupted about it in the blogosphere.

Julian Hyde, the founder of Mondrian, offered a strong thumbs-up on his blog , saying Clearview “puts Pentaho at the top of the heap, in competition with best-of-breed OLAP viewers.” He noted that the existing Jpivot-based OLAP viewer was not one of the strongest components of Pentaho, a sentiment echoed by Jos van Dongen, co-author with Roland Bouman of the excellent Pentaho Solutions, a recent Wiley book on Pentaho, BI and DW. Van Dongen is evidently content with the notion that buyers won’t willingly part with significant money unless they get a fairly rich product. But at least one commenter on Jos’ blog is somewhat frustrated that the open source OLAP viewer replacement project, called Pentaho Analysis Tool (PAT), is lagging. He wishes that Pentaho was providing more resources to the project team, but this is, of course, one of the challenges with community-based software done “for free.” To paraphrase the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you need….but sometimes you get what you want (or what the folks contributing their time want, because the work satisfies them.)

Forrester’s Boris Evelson was quoted in the press pointing out that Clearview’s existing integration with the Mondrian OLAP server would help overcome the typical problems of integration that open source players often face when attempting to knit multiple projects together. As usual, Boris is cutting to the heart of the matter; although it will take some time to see this shake out, the same resource availability questions don’t apply: if someone is paying you to get that code integrated, it gets done. Certainly Julian Hyde is a believer, and although he supports the open core model where it fits, he also provides a ringing defense for open source and for Clearview:

Pentaho’s faith in the open source process pays off. ClearView is proof of that. If Mondrian had not been available under a business-friendly open source license, LucidEra would probably have written it on top of another vendor’s engine, and Pentaho would not have been able to use it. Incidentally, LucidEra has contributed many important enhancements to Mondrian in areas of both performance and functionality over the past three years. This has improved Mondrian for everyone, and we know that Clearview performs very well against Mondrian.”

The larger question remains: is open source BI ready for prime time? It’s getting closer, but still has a way to go before it cracks the business user market, says Seth Grimes in this excellent piece. For more on Pentaho and the multiple OLAP viewers issue, you can check in with Tom Barber’s blog, where he discusses progress (and challenges) with the PAT project. As for me, I’ve drilled about as deeply in the technical side of this as I expect to, no longer being a code jockey myself. Meanwhile, I found the beginnings of another interesting avenue to pursue in the barbs being thrown back and forth about whether Jaspersoft is a good citizen of the open source community, especially with respect to the “give some real content back to the community” issue. Stay tuned for more about that one….

Published by Merv Adrian

Independent information technology market analyst and consultant, 40 years of industry experience, covering software in and around the data management space.

12 thoughts on “Pentaho Goes “Open Core” With Lucidera OLAP Viewer

  1. From what I understand, Jaspersoft is basically a re-hash (bundling) of j-reports (if I remember the name correctly) bundled up with a copy of Mondrian. Julian Hyde makes that point in his excellent post you reference. As a matter of fact, I once talked to a Jasper representative and, when I asked her about the Mondrian, she said “oh no no, you have it mixed up, they’re out competitor!” — At which point I quickly stopped asking questions 🙂
    I have yet to understand what it is about Jasper that you couldn’t do with either Mondrian or (or both for that matter). Then again, I’m far from an OSS expert by any stretch 🙂

  2. Hi Merv, very interesting post and thanks for the snippets about PAT, it certainly seems to be capturing peoples attention even in its early stages, hopefully people will have a free Jpivot replacement sooner rather than later.


  3. Jerome, I’m not ready to comment yet on Jaspersoft. They began a pretty spirited defense of their position on Julian’s blog, referenced in my piece. I prefer not to leap to any conclusions till I’ve spent sometime trying to understand both points of view.

  4. Thanks, Tom, for the comment! And maybe a little more visibility will pry loose some time from people who could help. Ya never know. Good luck with it.

  5. Hi Merv,

    great post! These are exciting times, not just for Pentaho, but for open source business Intelligence in general.

    Thank you very much for mentioning “Pentaho Solutions” – to us, it’s an honour to see you referring to it as an excellent book – much appreciated.

    Roland Bouman
    co-author of “Pentaho Solutions”

  6. Wise approach. I have spent way more time with Mondrian than Jaspersoft and am not qualified to discuss JS in a deeply technical sense either. My interaction with the JS people has certainly been less than positive so that would likely bias me as well 🙂

    I do look forward to your digging in there in the future, that’s for sure!

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