BI Heads to the Cloud

Enterprise apps are shifting to the cloud, officials say. So, too, is JasperSoft.

Business intelligence (BI) is in the midst of profound transformation. So is the open source software (OSS) BI sector.

For example, open source BI pioneer JasperSoft Inc. recently fleshed out its cloud strategy, announcing a new partnership with VMware Inc. to deliver platform-as-a-service (PaaS) BI. JasperSoft notched a similar accord with Red Hat this winter, and has an existing arrangement with Amazon for SaaS BI.

It's a matter of reading the writing on the wall, says Karl Van den Bergh, vice president of product and alliances. This isn't to diminish the importance of JasperSoft's on-premises BI platform, Van den Bergh insists; it's instead to recognize the undeniable importance of cloud. It's likewise to anticipate the degree to which cloud will transform the ways in which BI is deployed, consumed, supported, and, yes, developed -- both inside the enterprise and out.

A key aspect of JasperSoft's partnerships with both Red Hat and VMware concerns embedded BI, or BI as it's exposed in the context of PaaS. "We know this embedded market, we have over a quarter-million BI developers in our community, so we understand this developer market really well. What we're seeing [among developers] is that they're moving to cloud. It's still early days, but the trend is definitely there," says Van den Bergh. "Where they're moving is [to] platform as a service. We believe that in that middle layer ... [although] it's not typically included today ... we expect analytics to be a key component of the PaaS piece."

Van den Bergh says the new accord permits JasperSoft to embed its reporting and analytic capabilities in VMware's Cloud Foundry PaaS architecture. (He touts a similar capability with Red Hat's OpenShift platform.) The idea, he notes, is to make it easier for developers to embed reporting and analytics in a PaaS context. Today, he concedes, most software development efforts involve vanilla reporting: the kind of technology that -- in the OSS space, at least -- helped make JasperSoft what it is today. Over time, Van den Bergh predicts, application development projects will increasingly incorporate analytic capabilities, too.

"We see the applications ... being built now, really are very data-centric. These are data-driven applications, where the data is not just a by-product, but it's a core differentiator of the offering," he explains. "It's no longer just about delivering a social media app, or a gaming app -- it's about leveraging the data being created by that app to better optimize user engagement, to better optimize monetization."

JasperSoft's deals with Red Hat and VMware give it coverage with two of the more prominent PaaS offerings on the market. Van den Bergh says neither partnership is exclusive: JasperSoft could and will partner with other PaaS players.

"Our strategy is to become the de facto preferred BI service part of PaaS. Yes, there are some [PaaS providers with which] we probably wouldn't partner," he says, citing Microsoft Corp.'s Azure cloud platform. JasperSoft, after all, is a Java-based platform, which places it at technological -- and ideological -- loggerheads with Microsoft's .NET-centric vision.

"Apart from that, no, [there are] no restrictions. This data-driven world ... is increasingly going to be cloud-hosted, [and] the analytics piece is going to be vital. We expect that [an] analytic reporting service is going to be a ... de facto component that PaaS providers are going to offer."

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