Until recently, open source solutions were most popular within various developer communities but remained on the fringe of general business intelligence implementations. Over the past couple of years, however, open source BI, data warehousing, and data integration solutions have become more mainstream within the BI market creating a shift in the way BI solution providers. Now instead of open source providers having to educate the market about the value of their solutions, BI players are looking to mimic general open source principles in order to increase general solution adoption and market share.
Over the past several months, many solution providers have developed free solutions that are similar to open source offerings in the sense that they are free versions of software that can be used as a first step in BI adoption or to explore and compare various solutions at one time. For instance, InetSoft recently announced their 2.0 version of their free dashboard solution and Tableau has launched an online dashboard that can be used to analyze public information. Both offer organizations an alternative to traditional dashboards.
As the market continues to diversify and more solution providers adopt this tactic, the way in which BI is adopted may shift. Currently, organizations are able to deploy free dashboards and get general insights into their business. However, depending on the types of data sources they want to access, the amount of data required, and robust features and functions, they are limited in how they can interact with those solutions. Consequently, free solutions offer companies a first look into dashboards but may not be the way to go when deploying an organization wide or departmental solution. Even with their limitations, the ability to access free dashboards give businesses a sense of flexibility that until recently was not possible.