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Jaspersoft is an open source business intelligence vendor based in San Francisco. They get a lot of attention from Gartner and recently picked up a CODiE award. Not bad for a company whose roots come from the creation of a solution designed to compete against Crystal Reports.

Prior to the news of their CODiE win, CMSWire sat down with Brian Gentile, President and CEO to get a look at this open source business intelligence vendor.

A Little History on Jaspersoft

If you want the full details of Jaspersoft the company, read How It All Began. The shortened version goes like this. Jaspersoft is around 7 years old. It was born of 2 projects happening in Europe. The first started in 2001 when Jaspersoft co-founder Teodor Danciu, from Romania, built JasperReport -- a Java Report engine and library designed to compete with Crystal Reports. The other, came from Italy, when in 2002, Giulio Toffoli, a JasperReports user, created iReports, a graphical design studio for JasperReports.

A couple of years later the two got together, along with a few others and created Jaspersoft the company. 

The Product Line

There is a list of products that fall under the Jaspersoft umbrella:

  • JasperServer -- a reporting server that bundles iReports and JasperReport and a little bit more.
  • JasperAnalysis -- An OLAP tool that can be deployed standalone or as part of JasperServer
  • JasperETL - For more advanced BI capabilities that includes datawarehouse/datamart integration

You can also purchase JasperReports separately and it includes the iReports design studio.

Jaspersoft offers their products in both a community edition under the GPL license or a commercial edition (Professional and Enterprise). Commercial editions are subscription based and along with professional support and documentation, there are some features not available in the community edition.

Some of more notable features of JasperServer include:

  • A rich semantic or metadata layer that allows organizations to create English like definitions for data objects
  • Rich Dashboarding
  • Integrated (in memory) analytics
  • SaaS enabled
  • Small footprint
  • Customizable skin

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JasperServer - mashups

Here's a look at the different versions in detail.

A Few Numbers to Consider

This is not a small vendor with a small community. Take a look at these numbers:

  • 10.8 million downloads
  • 135k regular developer member in the Jaspersoft community
  • 12k customers across 100 countries (this is an entity that has purchased something from Jaspersoft -- be it a license, support or training)
  • 150k product deployments globally (this is an estimate)
  • 60+% growth year over year

In 2009, Gartner named Jaspersoft the highest growth BI vendor. Oddly enough though, Jaspersoft has never made it to a Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI (we'll talk about why in a minute).

A Little Competition Doesn't Hurt

According to Gentile, Crystal Reports is still the primary competition for Jaspersoft -- but that's mostly in replacement situations. More and more Jaspersoft is finding itheir products replacing current Crystal Reports implementations.

For new projects, SAP's Business Objects and Cognos tend to play a role. And in some cases, Microsoft's SQL Server, but not as often (this is probably due to the MS/Java technologies).

On the Edge of Technology

Jaspersoft's solutions are completely web-based. The vendor has always found itself on the edge of technology always looking for the next big thing that would make the end user's life a little bit easier. 

With solutions designed to be both easy to use, yet offer rich user experiences, technologies like Flash and HTML5 are key. In fact, last year, Jaspersoft developed a flash-based technology for visualization of data.

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Another interesting architecture approach that makes Jaspersoft unique is that the solutions can implemented as standalone, integrated into existing software or SaaS enabled.

Gentile told us that part of the reason they can't tell us exactly how many implementations they have is because many of their customers are embedding JasperServer into their own solutions and/or offering the software in a SaaS model to their own clients.

Business intelligence capabilities often are, and should be, a core component of enterprise software. Integrating solutions like JasperServer should help organizations get their BI activities up to speed very quickly.

Getting Recognized By the Analysts

When asked how the analysts see Jaspersoft, Gentile said that they are actually very high on Gartner's radar because of their client base. They don't however make that elusive Magic Quadrant that most vendors would kill to get on.

Gentile told us the Magic Quadrant really isn't a good reflection of technology at the cutting edge. Although it sounds a bit like making excuses, if you read the rules by which a vendor gets considered for those lists, it does leave a number of good solutions out in the cold.

It's also true that open source vendors are only recently getting the recognition they deserve from analyst firms like Forrester and Gartner.

Global Expansion, a CODiE and The Future

Jaspersoft has been growing efficiently and profitably. Part of their success is owed to their community who helps localize their products (iReports has been localized in 45 different languages to some degree or another). Jaspersoft is responsibile for 6 supported languages in their Commercial editions including English, Spanish, German, French, Chinese and Japanese.

As for their CODiE, they won for "Best Cloud Infrastructure Platform". Jaspersoft's cloud based BI is part of a joint solution stack with RightScale, Vertica and Talend.

The company has also picked up some new blood. Jim Bell is now the chief marketing officer, coming from a background that includes work with SmartTurn, Electric Cloud and Actuate. Karl Van den Bergh, a man who spent seven years at Business Objects, but most recently worked for Kickfire is Jaspersoft's VP of Product Strategy.

So with a CODiE tucked safely under their arm, where is Jaspersoft headed? Mobile is an important area and they are working with some experienced partners on native apps. They also have a new product due out later this summer and are continuing to advance the architecture to support the end-user.