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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.


October 2008 Archives

It's too bad I missed the October Rules Fest, as it looks terrific and I'm evaluating open source rules engines. From their description:

October Rules Fest is a three day gathering of the best and brightest in the rules engine industry, October 22nd-24th, 2008. This conference on business rules technology features the inventors and scientists behind advanced rulebased technology and leading business rule management systems.

We will be bringing together, for the first time the founders and inventors of rules technologies and methodologies.

They mean what they say, too. Presenters cover the range from academic researchers to folks from Ilog and Fair Isaac to the creators of some of the key algorithms and code behind today's rules engines. Luckily for those of us not there, many of the presentations are posted at the conference site.

Posted October 23, 2008 6:59 PM
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I did a webcast on open source for TDWI and Pentaho last week (reg required). The topic was open source BI adoption, which I believe has gathered speed this year. If you go through the registration link you can download a PDF of the slides from the webcast page.

If you're already familiar with open source BI, there were probably not a lot of surprises in my part of the presentation. The general outline was a little about open source and the market to answer the "why now?" question, followed by some information about categories of organizations adopting it and why they are adopting, and a few notes about challenges people run into when adopting. It was only 35 minutes so there's not as much depth as I would have liked.

I think one fundamental point should be made about open source: it's just software. When people state that they are resistant to open source, what they really mean is that they are resistant to the unfamiliar. A product should be evaluated on the combination of its ability to meet requirements and it's cost relative to other options. It's that simple.

Overcoming someone's resistance to open source in your organization means that you probably need to educate them, given that they use open source every day without thinking about it. It's in everything from cars to cell phones, as well as almost all the commercial BI tools shipping today. More likely, they are resistant because they (a) are threatened in some way by the change you propose, (b) face organizational obstacles like educating the legal department about licenses or (c) face political consequences you aren't aware of. It's often their personal situation that is the biggest factor, given that most objections are easily refuted as myths.

Posted October 23, 2008 12:00 PM
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I spoke yesterday with Mike Olson and Amr Awadallah about their new startup, and the appliance and BI markets. Mike is the former CEO of Sleepycat, and Amr was until recently a VP of engineering at Yahoo focused on BI for search. They’re joined by Christophe Bisciglia from Google and Jeff Hammerbacher, previously manager of Facebook's data team where Hive was developed.

They and several other founders created Cloudera to provide commercial support for Hadoop, an open source implementation of map-reduce (used for programatically processing large volumes of data on a compute cluster).

They said there are enough instances of companies using Hadoop in a commercial context that they believe there’s a market for commercial support on both internal installations and on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Hadoop is still complex enough and the skills for deployment are uncommon enough that many companies need help. Cloudera is setting it’s sights on larger problems than just Hadoop support, though Amr and Mike were not yet ready to talk details.

There are plenty of analytical problems that are difficult to do in SQL. MPP database vendors are trying different approaches like marrying map-reduce to the database (Greenplum), building analytical functions into the database (Teradata and SAS). Their approaches may not work as well as Hadoop though, because the processing is still constrained by SQL and the data still has to be managed from within the database.

Cloudera has an impressive starting lineup. It will be interesting to see where they take the business.

Posted October 22, 2008 7:28 PM
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