JasperSoft’s Burgeoning BI Stack Coming into Focus

It’s a milestone release, analysts concede, even if—in most other respects—it brings little new to the table in terms of either features or functionality.

Earlier this month, open-source business intelligence (BI) and reporting specialist JasperSoft Inc. announced the availability of JasperServer Professional, a new BI and reporting server based on the open-source JasperReports project.

JasperServer Professional—which JasperSoft plans to distribute under both commercial and open-source software licenses—is another in a series of planned deliverables in that company’s ambitious JasperIntelligence BI stack.

In this sense, it’s a milestone release, analysts concede, even if—in most other respects—it brings little that’s really new to the table.

JasperServer itself is an outgrowth of JasperReports, a seminal open-source reporting project that’s engendered an ecosystem of Jasper-centric tools. JasperReports first made its debut about five years ago, as an unassuming Java-based reporting library. Those days are long gone, however. Over the last few years, especially, JasperReports—which was successfully commercialized in 2005 as JasperSoft (the former Panscopic)—has undergone radical changes in terms of both scope and ambition.

Starting earlier this year, for example, JasperSoft announced plans to deliver a full-fledged JasperSoft BI platform, complete with a GUI-based rendering and authoring environment (iReport) and a bona-fide reporting, analytics, and metadata management component (JasperIntelligence).

Then, last month, JasperReports and its portfolio of complementary technologies flew their Sourceforge.net nest, setting up shop at the aptly-named Jasperforge.org. At the time, Jasperforge principals outlined a vision in which the new JasperForge.org site would function as a one-stop shop for JasperSoft’s burgeoning BI stack—providing project space, project management, and collaborative tools for JasperSoft-related open-source projects.

JasperServer Professional is the first of several planned deliverables in JasperSoft’s still-gestating JasperIntelligence BI stack, so in that sense, concedes James Kobielus, a principal analyst for data management with consultancy Current Analysis, it’s a seminal release. But if existing JasperSoft customers are expecting new features or functionality, Kobielus warns, they’re bound to be disappointed. That’s because JasperServer Pro is more of a tidying-up deliverable than a cutting-edge BI solution, he argues.

“[JasperSoft] is providing a viable migration path for users to move from the previous version of its BI server [JasperServer] …to JasperServer Professional,” he argues. “However, JasperSoft has not provided any compelling new features that warrant customer migration.”

For example, Kobielus notes, JasperServer Professional doesn’t include any new reporting or query functionality, at least vis-à-vis its immediate predecessor (JasperServer)—which JasperSoft released only two months ago as part of its JasperIntelligence 1.0 suite announcement. And speaking of JasperIntelligence, Kobielus also faults JasperSoft for its inability to provide timelines for the delivery of the completed JasperIntelligence 1.0 suite—especially of the enhanced “Professional” versions of all the suite’s products, of which JasperServer Professional is but the first instance. He says JasperSoft has been vague on other fronts, too. “Moreover, it has not provided specifics on its commercial extensions for bringing enterprise-class scalability, clustering, and failover features to the JasperIntelligence suite. Until it does, the suite cannot be considered enterprise-grade,” Kobielus observes.

That said, he allows, there is some (substantial) upside to JasperSoft’s would-be market bombshell, at least insofar as it represents an attempt to do right by users and provides a continuum, so to speak, with rest of its planned BI stack. “[T]he new JasperServer Professional reporting engine can be embedded into a broader range of operating system, application server, and DBMS platforms than the previous version of JasperServer,” he points out. The new JasperServer Professional supports a range of platforms, including Apache Tomcat, JBoss, BEA WebLogic, IBM WebSphere, Oracle Application Server, MySQL, Oracle Database; IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Windows Server, RedHat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise, Sun Solaris, and IBM AIX.

“[U]sers of the prior JasperServer product can migrate transparently to the new JasperServer Professional version, because both products share the same codebase….[And] the new product carries forward all of the rich report development, generation, formatting, and delivery features of its predecessor.”

Kobielus says there’s further upside in JasperSoft’s clockwork execution to date, which bodes well for that vendor’s promise to release the rest of its JasperIntelligence suite by the end of this year.

“This latest release follows the June 2006 release of JasperAnalysis, a new OLAP server that is another core component of the JasperIntelligence suite. At that time, the vendor also announced major new feature enhancements in its line of open-source products, including JasperServer, JasperReports, and iReport,” he points out. “The commercially licensed JasperServer Professional product is compatible with the prior version [JasperServer] which is offered under both commercial and open-source licenses], … facilitating straightforward migrations for existing JasperServer users to a broader range of underlying operating system, application server, and DBMS platforms.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.