Ten Bleeding-Edge Open Source Companies: Page 7

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7. Pentaho

Founded: 2004

Location: Orlando, FL

Product or Service: While “business intelligence” is a vague term that sounds like it could mean anything, business intelligence software is quite straightforward. It tracks and monitors various business metrics (like inventory and sales trends), presenting them in a “dashboard” display. Because it enables managers to view many metrics simultaneously, businesses can’t live without it. It’s no wonder that the BI market is worth $12-16 billion annually, depending on who’s counting.

Although there are many open source BI apps maintained on an ad hoc, project basis, Pentaho claims to be the first professional open source BI company (a claim likely disputed by open source BI vendor JasperSoft).

Pentaho (pronounced “PenTAho”) offers a comprehensive BI suite. Its suite includes a Reporting app that handles data sources ranging from XML to OLAP; an Analysis tool that shows how sales are trending over time; and a Data Mining tool that runs data through sophisticated algorithms to uncover unseen patterns.

Pentaho is Java-based, and runs on top of any platform: Windows, Linux, Mac, Unix. The company offers both 24/7 and 9AM-5PM support options.

Buyers can purchase support from Pentaho directly; alternately, its suite is also offered on a SaaS basis by third party vendors such as Lucidera, a VC-funded start-up that offers BI apps on demand.

Funding: In its first round of funding, Pentaho secured $5 million from New Enterprise Associates and Index Ventures. It added an additional $8 million from the same two VC outfits in July 2006.

Competitive Landscape: Proprietary software vendors sometimes dismiss open source by saying, “Sure there are a lot of free downloads, but not many real enterprise users.” But Pentaho, by being a company instead of merely a project, wins business from enterprise buyers. Its client list includes Expedia, Frontier Airlines, Bank of America, and the FDA.

The company scored big in April, when Sun announced that Pentaho Reporting is being added to OpenOffice. (The release is due out later in 2007.) Piggybacking on top of OpenOffice’s user base, some tens of millions, has the potential to propel Pentaho to a far high plateau.

Some of Pentaho’s stiffest competition comes from the entrenched proprietary vendors, like Business Objects, Cognos, and Hyperion (acquired by Oracle in March). These established BI vendors offer a more extensive library of bells and whistles in their reporting-analysis software than does Pentaho.

Pentaho, however, is generally far cheaper than these proprietary vendors, and so is positioned to have greater success in the mid and even small market.

To increase its potential user base, the company is constantly working to make its suite easier to use. With that in mind, later in 2007 Pentaho will introduce an intuitive graphical dashboard designer to the program. Its current release already has that, but using it requires power-user know how.

Management Team: Andre Boisvert, Chairman, was an executive with Oracle, SAS Institute, Cognos and Sagent; Richard Daley, CEO and founder, began his career at IBM, and went on to start two BI software companies, Keyola (acquired by Lawson) and Appsource (acquired by Arbor Software); James Dixon, CTO, was CTO at Hyperion; Doug Moran, Senior Architect, worked for Hyperion, and for the space shuttle program at Kennedy Space Center; Marc Batchelor, Senior Architect, was with Hyperion, and consulted with BI vendor IOC, where he designed BI apps for Fortune 500 companies; Lance Walter, Marketing VP, was a VP with Business Objects, and worked for Siebel and Hyperion.

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