I always wondered why there has never been a large scale open source BI and Reporting Tools. I know its a huge undertaking, to cover everything under the BI umbrella, while attempting to remain open and extendable is definitely a challenge. Well from the depth of Actuate and Eclipse comes:
BIRT – Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools
I’ve read through all their docs, and it really looks like these guys have their act together, everything I’ve been asking “other vendors” for. Make it standards base, open it up, make it extendable, and allow me to customize the hell out of it for my needs. Let me design custom report types and add my own.
I love the fact that it stores the report definitions in XML, allowing me to transform the documents in any way I want if I upgrade in the future or want to add standard headers, footers, etc. What I do wonder is how they plan on storing the reports in a clustered environment, will they mount a single file system across all of the application servers? Will it be part of a deployment tool that deploys individual copies to all of the servers? Or will it use a database for storing it in the backend? Each has their advantages and disadvantages; this is something we’ve always struggled with deciding on.
Also it looks like their presentation services will be open. The presentation layer is separated from the data, allowing me to export it to any format I want, whether it PDF for print, html for the web or Excel for those auto execs that can’t live without it. I’m making the claim today that I’ll have the first BIRT->WMS mapping service.
I find it very interesting that most of the guys at Actuate are former Microstrategy guys, and I wonder if Microstrategy will go after them when they start beating the pants off of them in the market.
While they don’t plan to produce a production level product until 2006/2007, I think they will be highly competitive in an already crowded market. The BI arena just got a little more competitive, COTS vendors watch out these guys are going to come out slugging. Do you guys need any PMs or developers? Just let me know.