Open Source BI

Playing away from home with Pentaho and Mondrian

Back in March, when I announced on this blog that I was going to set myself up as an independent consultant, I mentioned that I would be interested in doing some MDX work on other OLAP servers that support the language. Very soon afterwards I got an email from Nick Goodman at Pentaho asking me if I was interested in finding out a bit more about the open source OLAP server Mondrian and helping the open source BI community come to grips with MDX. How could I refuse?
Anyway, Nick pointed me in the direction of a very quick and easy to install demo of all of the Pentaho platform including Mondrian:
You literally download it (it’s about 100Mb), unzip it, click on ‘start-pentaho.bat’ and go to http://localhost:8080/pentaho/ and you’re there. Click on the ‘Steel Wheels’ sample and you can see demos of their reporting, olap and dashboarding tools. I’ve only really had a look at the olap stuff so far: in the Steel Wheels sample you click on ‘Pentaho Analysis’ and then ‘Territory Analysis by Year’ and you’ll see a pivot table (JPivot) and a graph; click on the MDX button at the top and you’ll see, and can alter, the MDX behind it. My first impression of this – and Pentaho Analysis is just rebranded Mondrian as far as I understand it – is just how conceptually similar it is to AS2K. Anyone coming from a Microsoft BI background will feel very at home with it. There’s a ton of documentation on Mondrian here:
…if you’d like to find out more.
Of course now I feel all guilty and adulterous (well, ok, not that bad) having strayed away from Analysis Services, but don’t worry – it will always remain my true love. But given that there’s such a shortage of people even in the Microsoft BI world that understand MDX I think there must be massive untapped demand out there for people who have cross-platform MDX skills: even though platforms like Essbase and SAP BW support MDX I’m sure you could count the number of Essbase and SAP BW consultants out there with anything more than a superficial knowledge of MDX on the fingers of one hand.

2 thoughts on “Playing away from home with Pentaho and Mondrian

  1. Whooo hooo!  Very nice!  I must say, was skepticle that the open-source market would be able to produce anything descent in this space.  This is very promising!  Thanks for the review.

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