With the release of Business Analytics version 4.5, Pentaho has expanded its platform and tools to address the needs of business and IT. The product has come a long way since the version 4 release less than a year ago, which broke ground in ease of use and support for big-data sources. Advancing beyond its roots in business intelligence, Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5 addresses data discovery, data integration and data mining and provides visual discovery and analytics that operate against stores of big data.
New data discovery features in version 4.5 include a group of interactive visualizations for geo-mapping, heat grids, and scatter and bubble charts. These visualizations are starting points for navigating into usually big amounts of data. Significant improvements to data caching have made visual discovery very responsive even when spanning through big data. You can easily navigate into the visualizations through simple selections or interactions on it. I like the way Pentaho has added geographic visualization and location intelligence to business analytics and its ability to add geographic layers from Google to help better understand the context of location. Also, by adding visualizations within tables and reports of business facts and figures, Pentaho makes it easier to pinpoint over- and underperformers. Visual discovery is useful for analysts who are tired of tools that do not provide enough interactive visualization and analytics, including Microsoft Excel.
Pentaho has expanded its support for non-SQL environments such as Apache Cassandra, DataStax and MongoDB through read and write interfaces for reporting and analytics. In version 4.5 Pentaho expands its existing support for Hadoop. The software can now be more easily deployed across Hadoop clusters, and supports secure Hadoop clusters. Pentaho recently announced support for MapR and now adds support for Apache, Cloudera and Hortonworks. The Pentaho MapReduce visual designer is easier to use with Pentaho Data Integration (Kettle). Users can visually access and integrate big-data sources and others through Pentaho Data Integration’s workflow and rules. This ease of use is essential, as our benchmark research on big data found that usability has the highest level of importance for evaluating vendors and their products in 69 percent of organizations.
Pentaho also recently released a new data quality product; the consistency and quality of data are even more critical as the volumes and velocity of data increase. Our recent benchmark research on information management trends found that organizations that utilize data quality software trust their business facts and figures almost 25 percent more than those that do not. Data quality and data integration are two of the key components of information management according to our benchmark, and having them work together for business analytics is critical to improving the data pipeline for analysts. I expect that Pentaho will offer more direct and even virtualized access to big data without having to integrate data from Hadoop and other sources into a relational database for analysis.
Pentaho also licenses its products to other software providers to embed in their own. As part of this effort, in version 4.5 it has added more flexibility for partners to add visualizations and data sources through its interface and scripting. Embedding business analytics as part of applications helps broaden use of the technology.
You can freely download the open source and trial versions of Pentaho’s products, and the company says it gets a download every 30 seconds. I would like Pentaho to advance further its collaboration and search capabilities to make the analytics more business-driven. I also wish tablet users could access the mobile capabilities in the latest version through a single link from its website.
Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5 brings together support for discovery and navigation of data, and with Pentaho Data Integration and Data Quality addresses the top obstacle we found in our business analytics benchmark research, that two-thirds of the analytics process is spent on data-related tasks. Its expanding support for Hadoop is critical, as our benchmark on Hadoop and information management found that Hadoop projects require significantly more data integration and visualization than non-Hadoop environments. This new release helps business and IT work together. Users can massage data and perform analysis with an integrated set of products from a single vendor, which our research finds less than one in five organizations do today. If you have not taken a look at Pentaho, investigate this version, as it is a great example of business intelligence growing into business analytics.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer