Open Source BI

Pentaho 2.0 and Pentaho Aggregate Designer

Via Julian Hyde, I see Pentaho have released version 2.0 of their BI suite. As Julian points out in this blog entry here, one of the major new features in this release is the Pentaho Aggregate Designer, which makes it much easier to design aggregate tables for Mondrian. A quick look at the screenshot on Julian’s blog suggests that Mondrian is continuing to flatter Analysis Services by imitation (you can even see that the aggregations are being built on the Foodmart database!) – not that this is a bad thing, in fact it’s what makes Mondrian so easy to use if you’re used to Analysis Services.

So Mondrian is definitely catching up in terms of functionality… and in terms of performance, well, as Julian says "Mondrian is beholden to the RDBMS for performance" and those RDBMSes are getting ever faster. I suspect very soon more and more people are going to find that Mondrian plus an open source RDBMS (perhaps the column-store-based LucidDB, which I see already already has support for the new aggregate table designer) is going to be ‘good enough’ for many BI projects – after all, most AS implementations I see don’t involve massive amounts of data, and if Mondrian can give good query response times on a fact table of 20-50 million rows then the decision on which platform to use will be more heavily influenced by price. And what with the current financial crisis, price is going to be an ever-more important factor for many customers. I wonder how long it will be before I see MS BI consultancies starting to offer open source BI, given the relative ease with which you can transfer your cube design and MDX skills between the two platforms?

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