Open source business intelligence provider Jaspersoft has announced a new version of its platform, version 4.5. The latest release brings big data to the masses with a drag-and-drop interface that allows users to easily connect to popular big data solutions like Hadoop.

What’s New in 4.5

Traditional business analytics vendors are scrambling to incorporate big-data support, and Jaspersoft is no different. However, unlike most vendors, Jaspersoft is targeting non-technical users with its capabilities. The company has extended its ad hoc reporting and analysis environment with a drag-and-drop design that allows non-technical users to build reports using relational, OLAP (data warehouse) and newer NoSQL data stores. Allowing users to connect and analyze data across multiple repositories without regard to the technology makes it much easier for users -- especially those without deep technical knowledge -- to gain a holistic understanding of data. This is increasingly important as data volumes spiral and data storage spreads across the enterprise into a complex mesh of specialized tools.

Jaspersoft has also made data more accessible in 4.5 by making it available faster. The platform uses in-memory data analysis extensively. Processing data in memory is much faster than multiple round trips to a data store: the result is faster answers to the end user. The platform also allows users to view, explore and create information on-the-go using an iPad or iPhone. JasperReports Server, accessible via a touch-enabled iPad browser or through a native iOS application, powers the mobile platform.

Notable new features in the release include:

  • A  web-based drag-and-drop design that supports connectivity to relational, OLAP and big data sources
  • In-memory data analysis which speeds reporting by reducing physical repository reads and writes
  • Native connectivity to NoSQL repositories like Hadoop, MongoDB and Cassandra
  • Expanded REST-based interfaces
  • Improved Excel exporter which passes smarter default values and leverages native Excel features like Grouping and AutoFilter

For those with an aversion to data sheets and release notes, Jaspersoft provides a release video for the 4.5 release.

Given the diversity and growth of data, coupled with strained technology budgets, we are likely to see many other BI vendors follow Jaspersoft’s lead and wholly embrace self-service analytics. This is a positive move, but organizations should not be naive. Self-service tools are not a substitute for skilled data analysts. Unless non-technical users are properly trained, they could just wind up torturing the data until it confesses to whatever they want to communicate.

Getting Additional Information

A more visual discussion of what’s available in Jaspersoft 4.5 will be presented on December in a webinar hosted by Jaspersoft. If you prefer to “do” rather than read or look, Jaspersoft 4.5 is available now in community, professional and enterprise editions. The community edition is free from jasperforge.org. Professional and enterprise editions require either an an­nual or multi-year subscription, but the company offers free evaluation copies and hosted trials.