Monday, December 15, 2008

Fundraising and Open Source Resilience

This month marks an important milestone for Jaspersoft and the beginning of the next seminal period for open source software. Earlier this week, we announced the closing of a $12.5 million fundraising effort that provides Jaspersoft with its next round of operating capital. We are thrilled that we received new investments from private equity firm Adams Street Partners and the largest open source company and a critical partner that has helped to define the open source landscape, Red Hat. I’m equally thrilled that each of Jaspersoft’s current investors also increased their investment in the company. Our new lead investor and Board member, David Welsh from Adams Street Partners, said:

“Jaspersoft is a leader in the next generation of business intelligence software. We have great confidence in its product roadmap and management team,” said David Welsh, Adams Street Partners. “Our investment today signals our commitment to companies like Jaspersoft that understand the evolving needs of business managers that must use IT solutions to drive better decisions and increase ROI through improved operations.”

So, why is there so much investment interest in Jaspersoft and why am I calling this a “seminal period” for open source software? Short answer: because the intersection of business intelligence and open source software is a very important place to be right now. As the global economy struggles, so do the budgets and plans of every company and organization. Remember that organizations (private and public) are designed to grow and succeed; this is their calling. So, even in a terrible economy, organizational nature compels them forward. And, moving forward with assuredly better business insight (that comes from the explosion of data within and throughout the organization) is reason for business intelligence. As a relatively mature software sector, business intelligence is perfect for the open source development and distribution model, because we don’t have to spend a lot of time educating people on what BI is (they know what it is, they know they need it, and it is a matter of tearing down the barriers for them to find, try, and consume). Customers and community members download, then install, evaluate and begin getting value. And, hopefully, they (at some point) choose to have some sort of commercial relationship with us, as their organizational needs warrant.

Investors understand the friction-free effect of the broad, open source distribution model – and the ultimate commercial success (if properly implemented) that it can achieve. And, a much broader audience is now gaining this same understanding. Recently, Rachael King wrote about the resilience of open source software in a BusinessWeek article, entitled “Open Source: A Silver Lining in the Economic Slump”. She reported on a number of open source companies, especially Jaspersoft, that are finding even greater interest for their wares during these tough economic times. Hats off to BusinessWeek for recognizing that the open source story is really heating up – both as our economic environment undergoes a transformation and as the software matures to become more widely adopted inside small and large enterprises around the globe.

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer

Monday, November 3, 2008

Open Source Advice for the next President of the United States - Part I

It’s November 3, and I (like so many other Americans and others around the world) breathlessly await the results of tomorrow’s U.S. Presidential election. Regardless of your party affiliation, political ideals, or social leanings, you must acknowledge the historical significance of this election. Americans will elect either the first African American President or the first female Vice President. Most importantly, perhaps, U.S. citizens will appoint a leader who will inherit so much of what has gone right and wrong with American politics, foreign relations, economic policy, market regulation, and the very gravitas of the sole, remaining Superpower. What do you think? Will America once again find its mojo under the inspired leadership of either John McCain or Barack Obama? We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ve thought long and hard about some specific advice for America’s next president. And, I’ve decided to collect these thoughts under an “open source” banner, believing that building community, transparency and more rapid advancement is not only good for software products, but for nation-building as well. So, here goes – my advice for the next President of the United States . . .
Fix the U.S. economy. It’s true that the global economy is more intricately connected now than ever. But, as President, your first responsibility is to get America back on its economic track. Remember that, at more than an estimated $14 trillion in 2008, the U.S. GDP still represents nearly 25% of the global GDP. So, in many ways, as the U.S. economy goes, so goes that of the world. Overcoming the current financial markets collapse, getting people back to work, and moderating spiraling prices in staples (such as energy, food) and other expenses (healthcare) should be top-priority. Don’t waste any time here. Appoint to Cabinet positions the nation’s best and brightest to craft creative solutions and track their progress until GDP is growing 4% annually.
Build the Global Community. There is no telling how much foreign relations ground we’ve lost in the past decade or more. But, as President, you must focus on the future – and re-building America’s standing among all nations will likely be your greatest, enduring challenge. In open source software, our existence is owed to building strong community and so I urge you to remember that building great community means to first be a great community member. To do so may mean letting go of some of the pride and proprietary thinking that has plagued many of your predecessors. Embracing a new level of transparency in policy and chivalry in character will serve you and your country well in reaching out anew to a world that deserves and wants a respectful role model.
While the world is a global village, there is a domestic aspect to building community. Technology has penetrated so many facets of our lives and has had a profound impact on the "flattening" of economies around the world. Yet, the U.S. government and its leaders have not integrated into their work what we in the technology call “Web 2.0”. Can you imagine a world where citizens and leaders at all levels could communicate openly in online forums made possible with open source software? I would call this “OneWorldForge” and the implications for governance are profound. As President, you can lead this online change and build the world’s largest and strongest community, starting with the United States as the example.
[this post continues in the next entry . . . ]

Open Source Advice for the next President of the United States - Part II

[This post continues from the one above]

Invest in the Future. America is a nation of builders and innovators. The strength of the economy and the very psyche of the country are founded on innovation. But, you surely know that the number of U.S. college graduates focused on science and math have been declining for two decades. As we approach 2010, the U.S.’s distinction as a top generator of the world’s best engineers, scientists, and mathematicians is clearly threatened. To maintain the country’s storied reputation, re-institute the government-sponsored scholarship and grants process so that more students will continue on with their education and choose technical subjects as their field. Also, re-enable private student loans and corporate tax credits (with special incentives), especially for those students focused on continuing education in the technical fields. It may take another decade to really pay-off, but there are no more beneficial long-term programs that will fuel America’s future.
Demand better technology in Government. The U.S. Federal Government, by and large, is known for spending more and getting less from technology than practically any other organization. This is despite a byzantine set of spending and procurement policies and rules which were ironically designed to do the opposite. Here, I can offer one incredibly useful tip: require that all U.S. government organizations consider open source software alternatives wherever they exist. Some European governments have been doing so for several years and are already reaping tremendous cost and technology advantages as a result. If you need any specific advice about open source business intelligence software, there is a community of technology innovators pushing the envelope and I, as well as many others, would be happy to share our knowledge.
I am sure that your first few months in office will be grueling. As you take the helm of the largest economy and most influential country in the world, remember there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the conflict and war in Iraq seem to be improving, which should give you more time to focus on the advice I’m providing here. The bad news is that if the good news is Iraq, you’ve got a tough road ahead of you. I wish you good luck. And, God bless America.
Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer

Friday, October 24, 2008

Technology Leaders Summit: Where is Open Source?

I was sure this would be a valuable and interesting use of my time as I filed in to the plush Four Seasons Palo Alto conference room. DLA Piper (a large, well-known global law firm) had invited me to attend their day-long “Technology Leaders Summit” earlier this week and I wanted to arrive early – not only to enjoy the variety of high-end breakfast foods, but to ensure a good seat for the featured speakers and panelists. To summarize, I will simply say there were highs and lows which corresponded with the caliber of those presenting and the ideas they represented (or how well they represented them).

Disappointing to me was the very first session, a moderated Q&A session with Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s current Chief Architect and storied pioneer of much that is software. I’m afraid I found almost no good answers to some pretty good Qs. Surprisingly content-free, relative to my expectations. My primary take-away was that Microsoft has NO interest in continuing to pursue Yahoo, despite its belief that an advertising-focused delivery model will be important to the future of software (umm, errr, did he mean that it already is important, or just that Microsoft isn’t participating particularly well?).
Next, a panel session on the “Latest Developments in Business Models”, included open source in its description (along with all the other likely suspects, such as SaaS, cloud computing and social networking). But, I should have known something was askew when the expert panel included no one with background or insight in open source. Still, I had to listen. After about 50 minutes of interesting dialog on cloud computing and how to enable innovation and disruption within a large, established enterprise, one other member of the audience was suffering from my same curiosity. Before I could act, he rose and asked: “What about open source? Is this category now relegated to the equivalent of generic drugs, destined to provide not innovation but only faster, cheaper alternatives to proprietary technologies? And, if so, is that fundamentally bad?” The panel muddled through some answer which amounted to “faster and cheaper is not inherently bad because it can inspire and enable new solutions where they couldn’t have emerged before because of cost or budget limitations”. The panel then moved on to conclude with comments on cloud computing and disruptive innovation in the enterprise, I think.
So, I was left to ponder, alone for the moment, where in the midst of a conference designed for technology leaders had the vibrant discussion of open source gone. My answer came when Jonathan Schwartz took the stage right after lunch. As the Chief Executive Officer of Sun Microsystems, Jonathan is an outspoken believer in open source. So much so, of course, that his company spent $1 billion to acquire MySQL earlier this year. You can follow Jonathan’s thoughts and ideas through his well-written blog on Sun’s site. Not only did Jonathan restore my faith that the most innovative, high-quality software being created today is all being done using the open source model, he reminded me that the most interesting customers and users of these products are the new faithful. I particularly enjoyed his reference to proprietary software vendors dominating customer environments in categories of basic application functionality, the kind of systems that IT staffs seek to make ever-more efficient (ERP, CRM, Payroll, etc.). In contrast, open source software and vendors are dominating in areas where computing resources need to be maximized and more fully leveraged, especially in web-based application design, development, virtualization, and delivery. Think of the world’s largest media, social networking, and global services firms. The complete software stack driving those environments is open source, nearly from top to bottom. I realized that while open source may not solve all the problems in software, it surely continues to share a seat at the table of disruption because it delivers so many powerful advantages for the customer. In this sense, I was reminded that open innovation, as a primary reason for and advantage of open source software, was indeed alive and well – it had just been temporarily misplaced behind the spinach quiche in the foyer.
As Jonathan explained Sun’s commitment to open source, based on its business and technical merit, my anxiety faded. Then, I focused on my personal commitment in my role at Jaspersoft: to create the simple, powerful business intelligence that will reach more people in the world than any of the aged, proprietary vendors that preceded us. Amen.
Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer

Friday, October 10, 2008

Microsoft, Business Intelligence & the Open Source Software Advantage

This week, Microsoft hosted its annual Business Intelligence conference and the early announcements from this event have been (as expected) fascinating. Most interestingly, Microsoft has introduced new code-named projects designed to support BI on a “massive scale at low TCO” and deliver “managed self-service BI” and “People-ready BI”. I will say, if this were buzzword bingo, Microsoft would have a covered card. So, what does all this mean? At least one analyst has already weighed in and correctly pointed out that Microsoft’s announced projects won’t deliver products with real features for some time (Microsoft itself estimates 2010). And even then, on Microsoft’s behalf, I fear that basing its pervasive BI strategy on the client software underpinnings of Microsoft Office is dubious. We know that the average desktop user consumes about 10% of the feature set of the major Microsoft office products (Word and Excel, particularly). If you’re like me, many of the more sophisticated Office features are surely out-of-reach, unless you commit to attending a course or spend a lot of time reading the documentation. So, adding more business intelligence capabilities to an already-overburdened Excel and expecting this to become used pervasively seems specious, at best. Does the world need more complex desktop office suites? Or, does pervasive BI really require a very different approach? It won’t surprise you to know that I believe the future of business intelligence is about lightweight client software, web 2.0-savvy interfaces throughout, adaptable and modular architectures, and the ability to deliver consistent functionality to any intelligent device (not just those that can run Microsoft Office properly). I’ve written here about these principles before (under the headline of "Web 2.0 and Pervasive BI). And, as sure as I’m writing this, I recognize that the next five years will yield a number of barely predictable advancements, all web-based, to which an agile BI toolset must adapt. How does a proprietary architecture built upon aged, complex designs flex to quickly support such new capabilities? It doesn’t. Market-driven adaptability, based on a modern and flexible architecture, is one of the real (and less talked about) advantages of open source software. It is surely the way we’ve been building Jaspersoft’s BI tools into the disruptive force that is destined to make BI pervasive. Open source software, fundamentally, is about the community’s involvement in the development of software – which helps ensure new capabilities are added quickly and in a way that is consistent with the needs of the market. If a feature or capability is important, the odds that one or more of Jaspersoft’s nearly 90,000 registered community members will want to help is extremely high. How could 90,000 community members advance our products meaningfully without an open, modular, modern architecture that not only allows but promotes such advancement? Imagine a developer outside of Microsoft trying to add a feature to the proprietary code base of Microsoft Office. Now that would require business intelligence.

Brian Gentile

Chief Executive Officer


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Europe, ETL & High-Performance Data Warehousing

I spent all of last week traveling through Europe – meeting with open source partners and speaking with analysts and press about all-things business intelligence and open source. It was truly “trains, planes, and automobiles”, with a few city buses tossed in for complexity. In total, a very valuable trip, though. As example, I met with John Powell, CEO of Alfresco ( We swapped successes and concerns and I was thrilled to learn that, like Jaspersoft, this open source content management leader is doing very well, despite the vex-some global economy (or perhaps because of the vex-some global economy?).

My primary task in travel, though, was to amplify the important announcements that have occurred for Jaspersoft and the world of open source business intelligence . . . no doubt you’ve already stitched together the theme. Just in case, I’ll spell it all out for you here briefly.

First, in mid-August, we debuted a remarkable demonstration of our technology integrated with Infobright’s Brighthouse product - which runs atop MySQL – and provides an optimized, columnar-oriented data warehouse engine. Key to this demonstration is the expertise at OpenBI, one of our most highly-skilled open source BI consulting partners ( For unmatched scalability and value, this combination of products is truly second-to-none. Check this out at the on-demand webinar section of our web site (

Second, earlier this month, Jaspersoft and Infobright ( announced a bundle of open source (Community Edition) software to dramatically alter the value delivered in this arena. Specifically, the two companies “today announced plans to deliver a joint end-to-end open source BI and data warehouse solution, available as a JasperForge project. is the largest open source community portal with hundreds of projects for the Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite. The new joint project bundle will be based on Jaspersoft and several Sun open source products, as well as the new open source data warehouse software, Infobright Community Edition (ICE). This enterprise-class, self-managing solution is a proven alternative to today’s high-cost, high-maintenance data warehouse products.”

So, at this point, the stage seems set . . . and our focus on delivering valuable, scalable open source BI for even sophisticated data warehouse-based projects is obvious. But then, this week, we added even more mettle to this equation by extending our partnership with Talend, the leading commercial open source data integration company.

For nearly two years, Talend ( has been behind our JasperETL product, which enables the simple and quick construction of data warehouses and data marts so that data can be fully utilized by JasperServer and JasperAnalysis.In summary, we announced that we have extended our partnership agreement by developing an entirely new version of the JasperETL solution, designed specifically to include the features most used by Jaspersoft’s BI customers. Powered by Talend, this JasperETL package will combine the elements of Talend Integration Suite that are the most relevant for BI users, and will meet Jaspersoft customers’ requests for an ETL capability that delivers more power and flexibility in their BI deployments. The new version of JasperETL will be offered exclusively from Jaspersoft and will be included in every paid subscription of the Jaspersoft BI suite.

Renewing and extending our agreement with Talend seemed perfectly appropriate under the backdrop of the Paris Capitale du Libre event, which was held this week in Paris. My last post cited the fantastic progress and momentum that open source (and Jaspersoft) is seeing in Europe. So lastly, I’ll simply encourage you to read our press release (dated September 24) to learn more about our customer and community traction in the Euro Zone: http://www.jaspersoft.c om/nw_press_jaspersoft_translates_european_roots.html

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Open Source Momentum in Europe

For me, this week is full of press and analyst meetings and precedes a week of conference activities that will draw together open source leaders and aficionados for some of the most advanced thought and discussion in all of open source. Must be in California, right? Wrong. Europe. The two events next week (both in Paris), the Open Source Think Tank and the Paris Capitale du Libre, will surely advance the open source agenda and spirit of collaboration destined to further this cause.

In case you weren’t aware, Europe has been quietly leading many aspects of the open source revolution. Formal adoption and use of open source products and technologies is highest in the Euro zone. A study conducted earlier this year by Forrester shows, for example, that 24% of (surveyed) organizations in France have already put open source software into production use with another 15% likely to do so during this coming year. Doesn’t hurt that several major European governments are literally requiring the consideration and use of open source software by all government organizations . . . and this is trickling into the private sector as well.

We’re very proud of Jaspersoft’s European roots and momentum. Our technology founders, Teodor Danciu and Giulio Toffoli, are Romanian and Italian respectively and we have long-created our core products in development teams across 3 European countries. And, while our community continues to grow rapidly throughout the world, the interest and contribution from Europe seems to continue disproportionately, remaining second-to-none.

We have many significant points of European community and commercial momentum that I’ll be describing here in this coming week and next. In the meantime, I invite you to check out the expanded French and German content at Jaspersoft’s commercial web site, (select the "Worldwide Sites" option). Merci and Vielen Dank.

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Web 2.0 and Pervasive Business Intelligence

A recent online ComputerWorld article is entitled "Can Web 2.0 Save BI?". The article focuses mostly on the mash-up functionality delivered by a Web 2.0-based analytic application and the simplicity it can deliver to even a novice end user. I found this article interesting but narrow in its scope. So, I wondered: "How important are Web 2.0 principles and technologies to the current and near-future state of business intelligence?". I say they provide vital, lifeblood, must-have, without-them-you-perish capabilities. At Jaspersoft, we are completely convicted about defining and delivering the ultimate Web 2.0 experience in business intelligence. Here are three reasons why.

1. Aged BI Architectures That Need to Be Displaced. The large, proprietary BI software vendors have very dated software architectures (in some cases, 20+ years to origin) that will greatly constrain them as they need to transition to more and more truly web-based capabilities. These vendors will have to mostly rely on web services extensions and / or retro-fitting their C/C++ underpinnings to accommodate a web audience with growing consumer-like expectations. So, in addition to the BI consolidation and market opportunity that it presents (for Jaspersoft), these proprietary vendors are leaving a technology gap wide open for new, modern software architectures like what we offer.

2. The Consumerization of Information.
For each of the last 2 major releases, Jaspersoft has been busy building-in a growing array of pure thin-client, web-based features that rely on the most modern technologies: AJAX, Dynamic HTML, rich media integration, HTML "frames" for elegantly creating composite dashboards and reports, and the "sideband" dialog that can be orchestrated between browser (client) and server to make sophisticated user interaction more seamless. The result is a user experience that is superior to many desktop applications (because it can draw on the collaborative technologies of the web, like the ability to quickly "mash-up" data, at the presentation layer, from a variety of web sources) and provides the "consumer-like" feel that is now a requirement based on much higher customer expectations. Most importantly, because of our modern approach, we’ll just be able to continue building in features like mash-ups as new technologies and customer requirements emerge.

3. Better Business Intelligence.
Lastly, one of the primary reasons all of this is important for Jaspersoft (and its community and customers) isn’t because it provides for a compelling, web-based experience (although it does). It is because these technologies will allow us to do NEW things in BI that our aged, proprietary competitors CANNOT (or cannot with any ease). Here’s just one example: Jaspersoft has been steadily introducing more and more functionality into the most comfortable and common BI construct available: the report. Everyone knows we clearly lead the world of reporting (based on the remarkable popularity of JasperReports and iReport). We are uniquely prepared (and suited) to leverage this broad base of community and customers who rely on us (strategically) for superior reporting and then continue to introduce more and more analytic capabilities within our familiar reporting construct. This combination of analytic features within a simple report will allow everyone to interact with and analyze data much more fully than even interactive reports of the present allow. Delivering simple and sophisticated analytic (OLAP-like) functionality within the reporting environment will allow the average user to:
a) feel comfortable performing analytic chores with data that they would not through a stand-alone OLAP client tool, and
b) not leave his production / application environment for a completely different analytic system (and potentially data store(s)) to "analyze" data . . . in which case new learning must occur and the data sources immediately become suspect.

So, Jaspersoft’s answer to "Web 2.0 Pervasive BI" is to leverage the comfortable environment of the report interface and deliver within deeper, richer (but simple) interactive analytics so that every user can become more capable and informed. Jaspersoft could not provide such rich reporting and analytic functionality without the benefit of the Web 2.0 technologies that define our software. We expect it and so do our community and customers.

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer