Over the past year, business intelligence (BI) vendor Pentaho has been steadily building up its BI suite by adding all kinds of new functionality. With the release of v5.0 today, it has upped its game by simplifying business user access to analytics, providing deep data integration, and advanced MongoDB integration.
Keeping in mind that this is a full point release, it is impossible to outline all the upgrades and improvements, but it is continuing the trajectory it set with v4.0+ by catering to businesses with big data needs, and has simplified the user experience to ensure that, where possible, the people that actually need to use it can.
Ease-of-use has become an increasingly important selling point for BI applications with IDC pointing out in its Worldwide Business Analytics Software 2012-2016 Forecast that products from many of the bigger IT players in the market -- such as SAS and IBM -- are too complicated for many workers to use.
That’s a discussion for another day though, even if one of the points that Pentaho is pushing here is the simplified user experience. In all, Pentaho says that there are over 250 new features with this release. Here are a couple of thematic improvements that are worth a look.
Pentaho’s Data Blending
The first is the development of what Pentaho describes as "blended data." As you might expect, this relates to the ability to take data from all channels, pull it all together and take insights from the widest data sets possible.
The results are more accurate insights brought to the user through accessible visualizations and reports. Matt Casters, Chief Data Integration at Pentaho describes it in a blog post as follows:
Data Blending allows a data integration user to create a transformation capable of delivering data directly to our other Pentaho Business Analytics tools (and even non-Pentaho tools)."
With traditional analytics, data is delivered to the different tools through a relational database. However, with increasing volumes of data to manage, the volumes are just too high for this to work anymore.
It’s more than just blending though. It also blends at the data source, which not only ensures better data governance, but also ensures that the insights that are pulled from the data are all in context.
A final aspect of blending that is interesting is that fact that, according to Pentaho, they have found a way of providing real-time analytics for distributed environments. With virtualization and current analytics technology, enterprises often have to stage, or hold, data in the system as it searches for other relevant data. The result is that often the data used for analysis is out of data, which can impact heavily on the insights delivered.
The other element of v5.0 that Pentaho is promoting heavily is its integration with MongoDB. While Pentaho and MongoDB have been integrated in previous versions, this expanded integration provides functionality that wasn’t available before.
Specifically, Pentaho now has full support for MondDB Replica Sets Tag Sets, and Read and Write Preferences. The result is enhanced agility across MongoDB, enabling users blend and visualize reported data in the same way they are able to do with Pentaho v5.0.
It also simplifies the reporting of data that is stored in MongoDB offering developers automatic document sampling, a drag-and-drop interface, and schema generation.
For MongDB users, the integration makes it easier to move data between MongoDB and other systems, while Pentaho users get the performance and easy data access that comes with MongoDB.
There are many other new functions in Pentaho v5.0, including clearer reporting, a streamlined interface, customizable dashboards, and enterprise-ready big data integration. More on this soon.