Pentaho - OBIEE   Overview        
          How are the mighty fallen!  




Pros and Cons


The key differences between Pentaho and OBIEE can be summarized as follows:


*  If the total cost of ownership, developer productivity, product extensibility, speed of delivery, or overall functionality is your prime consideration, then Pentaho comes in well ahead of OBIEE. In particular, we’ve run through a collection of common developer tasks using both Pentaho and OBIEE, and we’ve found that Pentaho offers a (3-15)x increase in productivity over OBIEE.


*  However, when it comes to like-for-like functionality (BI stack components that the products share in common), then the comparison is more nuanced: Pentaho will have features that OBIEE does not possess and vice versa; while it’s often possible to implement the functionality missing from Pentaho using its extensibility features (in particular, its CTools extensions), doing so will typically require more effort than using the OBIEE equivalent, so “look before you leap” – you might wish to take up Pentaho’s offer to create a personalised demo based on your use case, free of charge.


If you are surprised at our assertion of the relative strength of Pentaho compared to OBIEE, then so are we (indeed, we kept looking for features on which we could mark down Pentaho, in the interests of producing a less one-sided comparison, but with little success). But, perhaps, this conclusion should not be so surprising: our perception of a product offered by Oracle, or, indeed, any of the other Big-4 vendors, too often comes down to our perception of the brand, and the product’s limitations are only cast into a stark perspective when it is compared on a feature-by-feature basis with a competitor.


Community-based, open-source software will inevitably offer higher productivity at the “micro” level, since it is created by developers working at the “coal face” of product development. The big challenge for any open-source vendor is to integrate the many good ideas together into a seamless whole that delivers the same productivity gains at the project level – a task at which Pentaho has, so far at least, succeeded admirably.



Product Enhancements


With OBIEE, we have a mature, but poorly integrated product, one that won’t be re-architected to any significant extent: it’s very unlikely to ever offer a highly productive development environment.


While Pentaho has some annoying features (like its poorly organised documentation), with Pentaho anything “that’s broken” at present can be readily fixed, and following its acquisition by Hitachi Data Systems and the coming exponential growth in open-source software, Pentaho will have both the incentive and the financial muscle to do just that.



Future Pricing


In the medium-term, the price charged by Oracle (and the other proprietary BI vendors) will remain high – they will be reluctant to reduce their profit margins until the loss of market share turns from a trickle into a tsunami. And, in the medium-term, open-source vendors, like Pentaho, will be keen to maximize growth (low profit margins accompanied by strong growth will be sufficient to keep shareholders happy for some years) so prices are likely to remain low.


With increased competition from the open-source vendors, Oracle will almost certainly introduce a more gently tiered pricing structure for OBIEE; equally, as Pentaho grows, it is likely to offer a more steeply tiered subscription-based service as it introduces additional, high-value, add-on functionality aimed at the enterprise. Ultimately, the proprietary and subscription-based models will converge.





As Brutus so aptly observed in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” This tide is now starting to flow ever more strongly in favour of the open-source vendors. So, short of very poor management, Pentaho can expect to see exponential growth over the coming years. As for Oracle (and IBM, SAP, Microstrategy): well, you were the future, once!