Open-source BI vendor Pentaho pushes migration deal

The company offers low-cost report conversions to grab users of Oracle, BusinessObjects and other BI platforms

Add open-source BI (business intelligence) vendor Pentaho to the list of vendors rolling out financial incentives to lure customers during the global recession.

On Monday, the company will announce a new migration program along with the launch of its 3.5 release.

Under the "Escape" offer, users of Actuate e.Reports, Brio, Cognos Impromptu, Crystal Reports and Oracle Reports can have their BI reports converted to Pentaho for special rates, starting at $US5,000 for 25 reports. For bigger volumes, the cost can go as low as $US100 per report.

Meanwhile, Pentaho BI Suite Version 3.5 features a new designer that speeds up the process of building reports, along with "self-service" functionality that lets business users create content and run queries against data without the need for deep technical knowledge, according to the company.

It remains to be seen how many new customers the Orlando-based vendor lures with its migration plan, but the offer is "a very good deal," in the view of Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson.

"I'm actually surprised a lot more BI vendors aren't offering this [type of enticement]," he said.

But it should be noted that there is far more to adopting a BI platform than converting reports, Evelson added. "You've also got server setups, backup, disaster recovery, training, change management, et cetera."

Pentaho, which makes money by selling support subscriptions, is often mentioned in the same breath as fellow open-source BI vendor JasperSoft. In terms of functionality, the companies are essentially neck-and-neck, Evelson said.

In turn, JasperSoft and Pentaho's breadth of technology lags behind that of major platforms such as BusinessObjects and Cognos, but this is not surprising given their comparatively small size and shorter time in the market, Evelson added.

Pentaho's platform has worked so far for Boyne Resorts.

The Boyne Falls, Michigan, hospitality chain has been using the software since version 1.2, and plans to upgrade to 3.5 in October, according to Carlos Lopez, business intelligence manager.

"It's just going to save a lot of time on the development side," he said. "Some features that right now have to be hand-coded, they are just there."

Lopez creates a variety of reports with Pentaho, concerning areas like revenue, labor and guest satisfaction surveys, he said.

While many of the capabilities the tools provide are available in common platforms such as Microsoft's SQL Server Reporting Services, "price" was a key reason why the resort company went with Pentaho, he said.

The company's support service has been good as well, he added.

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