While Open Source Business Intelligence (OSBI) has been around since 2005, it has evolved rapidly over these years and has nearly comparable features with the Best commercial BI products today. There is a learning curve, as with any other software, to be able to successfully implement a BI solution. While there is a vibrant online community of users as observed on the number of registered users globally, the numbers of right trained resources that can be engaged on short notice are relatively fewer when compared to other commercial tools. Having said that, there is a growing pool of resources and considering the significant cost savings on license fees, the same is being invested by companies to avail required training for their internal teams. That is where as partners, we at GrayMatter hope to bridge the gap and provide the necessary expertise to customers and also help with training their internal teams for further implementations. There are no other challenges or drawbacks whatsoever today as far as adoption of open source BI is concerned.
There is a common misconception among users/customers that Open Source equals Free, which is not the case. In fact Open Source if not deployed or used rightly can be more expensive as a whole. Some of our time is spent in educating the users/customers on this fundamental difference and its implications. While the community edition of the software (Like Pentaho) is free to download and use there is also a commercial open source edition which has a small annual fee for support. This support fee ensures they receive timely assistance and support from not just the parent company providing the Open Source software but also from partner companies like us operating in the specific geographies. With the community edition of the software is being used successfully in production by many organizations worldwide, and there is a vibrant community / forum to get queries answered, there is no guarantee that timely response will be received. So depending on the criticality of the deployment and availability of skilled IT resources in house, organizations can choose the right versions of the software. We are beginning to see increasingly that many organizations are willing to pay the support fee to get timely support and assistance. Additionally there are no license / interoperability issues at all with Open Source BI whatsoever as perceived by some sections.
I personally believe Open Source BI is set to grow at a exponential rate for the next 5 years with an average growth rate of not less than 25% in commercial open source customers. Adoption levels have already seen some significant rise and beginning of 2014 SME’s as well as larger multi-national companies will show absolute faith in OS BI tools and solutions, as the awareness cycle of open source BI tools is pretty much complete today.