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Mark Madsen

Open source is becoming a required option for consideration in many enterprise software evaluations, and business intelligence (BI) isn't exempt. This blog is the interactive part of my Open Source expert channel for the Business Intelligence Network where you can suggest and discuss news and events. The focus is on open source as it relates to analytics, business intelligence, data integration and data warehousing. If you would like to suggest an article or link, send an e-mail to me at open_source_links@ThirdNature.net.

About the author >

Mark, President of Third Nature, is a former CTO and CIO with experience working in both IT and vendors, including a stint at a company used as a Harvard Business School case study. Over the past decade, Mark has received awards for his work in data warehousing, business intelligence and data integration from the American Productivity & Quality Center, the Smithsonian Institute and TDWI. He is co-author of Clickstream Data Warehousing and lectures and writes about data integration, business intelligence and emerging technology.


February 2008 Archives

There's going to be an open source session with some presentations, demos and networking at the Silicon Valley TDWI chapter meeting on Thursday, February 28 from 2:00 - 5:30 in San Francisco. This event is open to the public (and it's free!) but you do need to register first.

The announcement and agenda is listed below:

Attention All Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Professionals in the Silicon Valley Area

We cordially invite you to attend our upcoming TDWI Silicon Valley Chapter meeting on February 28, 2008. Come meet other local BI/DW professionals, swap business cards, share ideas, and exchange career advice while listening to quality presentations in a vendor-neutral setting, which is the hallmark of TDWI events. TDWI Chapter meetings are open to all BI/DW professionals and are FREE of charge. In addition, when you attend a TDWI Chapter meeting, you are eligible for a 10% discount towards a new, renewed, or extended TDWI Membership. Don't forget the prizes! At each event our sponsors graciously donate fantastic prizes. Past giveaways include Apple iPods, TVs, DVD Players, and more. Please see the agenda below.

When: Thursday, February 28, 2008, 2:00 – 5:30 p.m.
A.P. Giannini Theater at the Bank of America Building
555 California Street, San Francisco, CA
(Theater is on the ground floor off the California Street Entrance)

2:00 - 2:25 p.m. Mingle with your colleagues over light refreshments
2:30 - 2:45 p.m. Welcome, Chapter Intro, TDWI Goals
2:45 - 3:15 p.m. The State of Open Source BI - Mark Madsen
3:25 - 3:45 p.m. Vendor Demo - JasperSoft
3:45 - 4:05 p.m. Vendor Demo - Talend
4:05 - 4:20 p.m. Networking Break
4:20 - 5:15 Panel Discussion on Open Source Software moderated by Mark Madsen. The panel includese professionals from JasperSoft, Pentaho, and Talend as well as other users of Open Source technology.
5:15 - 5:20 p.m. Close

Posted February 26, 2008 3:16 PM
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Pentaho announced yesterday that they closed $12 million in series C funding. They plan to use the money to continue expansion and product development. The company has been doing pretty well, going by the partnership and customer announcements over the past six months. Obviously the VC think the business is good enough to continue investing in its growth, a good sign for other commercial open source companies in this market.

If you aren't familiar with Pentaho, they provide open source ETL, business intelligence and related software. They've been working on an open source alternative to BI platforms like those offered by Business Objects and Cognos, er, I mean SAP and IBM.

The investors this round are Benchmark Capital, New Enterprise Associates and Index Ventures, in case you were wondering.

Posted February 22, 2008 2:08 PM
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Kevin Kelly wrote an excellent article which, while not about open source, explains very well what the economics of software really are. You could read this entire piece as how to sell open source software, and why open source firms make sense. Here's an excerpt:

The instant reduplication of data, ideas, and media underpins all the major economic sectors in our economy, particularly those involved with exports -- that is, those industries where the US has a competitive advantage. Our wealth sits upon a very large device that copies promiscuously and constantly.

Yet the previous round of wealth in this economy was built on selling precious copies, so the free flow of free copies tends to undermine the established order. If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies?

I have an answer. The simplest way I can put it is thus:

When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable.
When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.

Well, what can't be copied?

From my study of the network economy I see roughly eight categories of intangible value that we buy when we pay for something that could be free.

In a real sense, these are eight things that are better than free.

If you're questioning the viability of open source businesses, or want to learn more about what can be sold, read Better Than Free.

I'm off the Open Source Think Tank now. Should be a great couple days.

Posted February 6, 2008 12:42 PM
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I was going to write something about negative effects on open source of Microsoft buying Yahoo (I briefly mentioned this in the Intelligent Enterprise article) but I see no need to repeat what Blankenhorn and Rooney wrote at ZDNet:

"Microsoft’s proposed $45 billion buy of Yahoo would give the Redmond, Wash company control over a top open source e-mail company, open source projects and an open source infrastructure. On September 17 of 2007, Yahoo bought Zimbra for $350 million. Yahoo’s infrastructure is built on BSD. Yahoo has released a myriad of software to the open source community and even sponsors some open source projects."

I'm not sure if the risks of big vendors stepping on open source are over-emphasized or not. Given the nature of the GPL, it's always possible for people to jump ship and fork projects as happened with Joomla-Mambo. The question is whether key developers for projects have the means to do so, particularly when so many newer open source startups are VC funded and this is their day job.
What I find more worrisome is the potential to lose more IP (copyright or patents) to big vendors who see no problem using IP as a weapon to stifle innovation.

Posted February 4, 2008 12:48 PM
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