Jaspersoft Drives BI Success with Open Source
November 2, 2010 Alex Woodie
IBM i shops that aren’t afraid to dip their toes into the commercial open source waters may want to take a gander at Jaspersoft, a developer of business intelligence tools written in Java. The San Francisco company recently unveiled JasperReports Server Professional, a full-featured and fully supported version of its core report delivery tool that the company claims can do the job as well as big-name BI packages that cost 10 times more.
JasperReports got its start nine years ago as a SourceForge project to develop an open source reporting tool that can be embedded into Java and Web applications. The project has grown into a full commercial venture, with more than $20 million in venture backing, hundreds of Jaspersoft employees, and a lucrative OEM business that sees prominent ISVs embedding JasperReports into their own products.
Customers who download the core JasperReports reporting engine get a library of dozens of reporting templates, and the extensibility to take data from many sources (including DB2/400 via JDBC) and generate a variety of reports, graphs, and charts in PDF, Excel, and other formats. Reports are created with iReport, a graphical report designer, while a product called JasperServer handles the execution and distribution aspects of reporting. JasperReports is the company’s most widely adopted product, but the company also offers more advanced BI functionality through JasperAnalysis, which provides OLAP capabilities, and JasperETL, an OEM version of Talend‘s open source ETL tool.
Last month, the company launched JasperReports Server Professional Edition, a new package that includes a license for the JasperReports reporting engine, the iReport design tool, and the JasperServer report distribution tool. The product starts at $9,000 for a two-CPU server license, and provides a deep discount compared to reporting tools from big-name BI vendors, says Mike Boyarski, senior product marketing manager at Jaspersoft.
“That is dramatically less than traditional products from the likes of [SAP‘s] BusinessObjects, [IBM‘s] Cognos, Information Builders, or Actuate,” Boyarski tells IT Jungle. “These guys are charging $80,000 to $100,000 for two CPUs for comparable reporting features.”
JasperReports follows the “80/20 rule” by offering 80 percent of the functionality of the big-name reporting tools at about 20 percent of the cost, Boyarski says. The areas that other packages exceed JasperReports’ capability include: the richness of the metadata, which can sometimes contribute to more richly interactive reports (but can also pose a hindrance to adoption of different kinds of data); the number of visualizations (JasperReports offers dozens of templates, while other packages may offer hundreds); and proven scalability in large environments.
Jaspersoft has been deployed in environments supporting up to about 10,000 users, Boyarski says, whereas other packages have proved themselves with up to 50,000 customers. “We haven’t seen that kind of customer yet,” he says, “not to say that our platform couldn’t support it.”
The day may come when JasperSoft is asked to support that kind of customer, especially as large companies begin to feel more comfortable relying on commercial open source software. Today, Jaspersoft boasts one of the highest download rates of any open source BI tool. JasperReports drives the operational reporting at about 160,000 organizations, including close to 1,000 organizations that are paying customers, Boyarski says.
All of Jaspersoft’s products are written in Java, and run on any server that can run the latest JVM. However, the company officially supports the product only on major Unix and Linux operating systems, as well as Windows.
Jaspersoft does have several customers pulling information from IBM i servers to generate reports using JasperReports, says Boyarski, whose first job in IT was at Oracle, where he worked on the (eventually stillborn) project to run the Oracle database on the AS/400. If enough IBM i shops wanted to run the software on their IBM i servers, there’s a good chance that JapserSoft would move to support it.
For more information on JasperReports Server Professional and other Jaspersoft products, see the company’s website at www.jaspersoft.com.