Future   Prospects        
          Crystal ball gazing  




The Growth in Open-Source


To gauge the future prospects for Pentaho and OBIEE, it is worth stepping aside for a moment and examining the likely growth of open-source in general. In its 2015 report:


*  The State of Open-Source RDBMSs, 2015


Gartner makes some startling predictions for the growth of the open-source RDBMS:


*  By 2018, more than 70% of new in-house applications will be developed on an OSDBMS and,


*  50% of existing commercial RDBMS instances will have been converted or will be in process.


Where the RDBMS goes, the BI stack will follow. Even if these predictions are optimistic, a very rapid growth in sales for the leading open-source BI vendors seems assured.


So, we can expect Pentaho to realise steadily increasing revenues, with which it will be in a position to strengthen its product range and to fill in the existing gaps in its portfolio.



Product Enhancements


Pentaho’s ETL is highly regarded, but it could benefit from:


*  Extending its useful, but limited, Agile BI functionality to automatically create a transactional source star, network diagram based on data dictionary FK-links, and then, following a developer selection, automatically create the ETL, datamart tables, and metamodel (with support for SCD, indexes, and clustering, and the automated renaming of metamodel presentation layer items).


If Pentaho is to outcompete some of the proprietary vendors that specialize in visualizations, it needs to do more work at the front end of the BI stack by:


*  Incorporating its CTools extensions into the core product and using them to extend its reporting functionality to provide the type of user experience found in products like QlikView and Tableau;


*  Taking a lead in the nascent field of 3D visualizations, in which charts can be manipulated in 3D (for example, by using the arrow keys to rotate a chart about different 3D axes; and by using the mouse wheel to drill into and out of a chart, displaying the results “video-style” without moving to a new window);


*  Taking a lead in introducing a text- / voice-driven AI interface that business users can use to ask the User Console to create and manipulate reports (if, as a user, I want to see “sales for the last three quarters broken down by the top-ten selling products”, then I should only have to say so, and not have to learn how to drag, drop, and click my way to the result).



Pentaho – Hitachi Data Systems Acquisition


From a corporate perspective, there are no obstacles to Pentaho’s future growth:


*  Pentaho was acquired for about $600 million by Hitachi Data Systems, a subsidiary of Hitachi (market capitalization £33 billion) in June 2015.


Prior to this acquisition, there was speculation as to when Pentaho would be acquired, and uncertainty as to what the impact of a change in ownership might be on its product offering.


Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) does not have any similar products, which would have led to a prolonged period of consolidation. HDS has expressed its intention to use Pentaho as part of its IoT strategy, and has committed itself to retaining Penatho’s open-source model. So, by being part of such as substantial corporate grouping, Pentaho will now be in a much stronger position to raise any funding that may be needed to support its future growth.



OBIEE – Declining Market Share


OBIEE, on the other hand, is a mature product. The bulk of the functionality was developed over 15 years ago by NQuire, and neither of its subsequent owners, Siebel and Oracle, has done much beyond changing the cosmetics of the interface and adding a modest amount of new functionality. There is therefore little prospect that OBIEE will change significantly in the future; in particular, it seems very unlikely that it will be re-architected to make it a more productive and well-integrated BI stack – indeed, the progressive loss in market share by Oracle, and the other members of the Big-4, to open-source vendors is likely to reduce the revenue base from which such enhancements could be justified.