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When I first looked at Pentaho it was an interest driven by its affordable pricing in comparison with the offerings from the big players and what I found was a very interesting, very functionally rich offering that was far from being the cut price, reduced capability product I was expecting. Since that initial view I have continued to track the progress of Pentaho, which seems to go from strength to strength, offering leading edge functionality, aligned to cutting edge thinking, and still at a price point that demands your attention. This theme continues with Pentaho 5.0.
Addressing the fundamental issues of why data warehousing is not the answer to addressing the business requirement for analytics is a theme that I hear a lot about from many vendors and, as a practicing Business Intelligence delivery manager, one that is a very real issue to me personally. As much as there are many people talking about the problem, there are not that many who are actually addressing the issue effectively, but I would not categorise Pentaho as one of those; indeed I think they have one of the most convincing tales to tell over the last couple of years. Whilst others grow seemingly in order to grow larger and to fill in functional gaps almost regardless of business value, Pentaho seem to be a step on from that and use the expertise that comes on-board to give them a big step up across the board. The Pentaho Open Source model seems to give them a responsiveness and an agility that eludes their competitors.
The latest step in their evolution is Pentaho 5.0 which focuses on 3 key areas. Firstly they have given their Analytics a new interface that is based on experience gained from their acquisitions. This is easier to use, more intuitive, and just as powerful. This is vital because analytics has to be usable by as wide an audience as possible and not be produced centrally by a technically capable few who then publish to the many; that model is not going to be a game changer, and changing the rules of the game is a business imperative.
Then the second set of new features look at providing more powerful and accurate insights, and addressing the critical issue of blending big data, not in one or more data stores but at the source. Again this is a critical capability, with big data it is no longer viable to only integrate in a data store, that involves too much latency, too much technology and too many areas where failure can creep in, but if the data can be tackled where it resides and the results integrated you are facing a far more realistic opportunity to offer value, acceptable risk and enhanced capability. But you cannot avoid having to integrate data and Pentaho is offering Enterprise Level data integration across more diverse sources and via simpler mechanisms with more robust features than most of their competitors.
The third sets of features are about taking the integrated data and blending and embedding it into business applications; this is an area that I believe is really significant. To derive value, solutions must feature how to return monetary value to the business: far too much of what we see and hear about in analytics today is technology in search of a business case. We do things because we can, and believe that the business will catch up and exploit them, and then it will all be alright. Pentaho is far more pragmatic and focussed and this results in solutions that return business value far more readily. Looking to keep the warehouse lean and mean, and integrate meaningfully with alternate data stores that offer superior price performance is essential. Thinking like this offers the real possibility of creating more intelligent applications that combine the real time high volume triggers found in the big data world of the operational side of the business, which can then be merged with the more customer value and behavioural trigger aware analysis found from the large longitudinal studies of the business supports side of the enterprise, together you have a means to react to the key events for the key customers, at the right time to determine the best outcome.
The widespread ability to integrate is something that is a strength of Pentaho that sets them apart and, as we are entering a competitive landscape in which an ability to integrate the worlds of big data, data warehousing and real time operational analytics will become increasingly important, because together these technologies can offer companies competing in a commoditised world a way to differentiate themselves and offer a superior customer experience. I think that the world is moving towards Pentaho and their offerings are becoming more compelling with each iteration.