The Driving Force Behind the Success of Pentaho’s EMEA Channel

July 28, 2011

In 2010 the Pentaho EMEA channel revenue grew by 285%, the number of EMEA partners doubled and we held 114 events with EMEA Partners. Wow! You may be asking yourself, ‘How is it possible to experience such growth and find time to hold 100+ events?’ Two answers: first, this growth is a result of our hard working EMEA partners creating success with their impressive customers such as: BNOVA (Infocamere, Coopservice); PortaBI (Telefonica, Banco Santandar), Conduct (Aspiro Music, TV2), Millersoft (Air Menzies, Regenesis, Badoo), Linalis (Swissport). The second reason for success is the backbone of the EMEA Channels team, Pentaho EMEA Channels account manager, Sharmila Wijeyakumar (known to her friends as Sam).

Pentaho is very proud to announce that Sharmila was named one of the Top Women of the Channel by Everything Channel’s CRN Magazine. Reading her section below from the award, you can easily understand why she received this award.

The Top Women of the Channel is an annual list recognizing female executives for their accomplishments over the past year, based on their achievements as executives and the amount of influence they wield over the technology channel.  This year’s Women of the Channel were chosen by the editors of CRN Magazine from a field of vendor channel organizations, distributors and solution providers.

Congrats Sam!

Currently Sharmila is working to enable partners and grow the channel presence in the UK, Benelux and DACH regions. She is also actively recruiting partners in these regions and France. If you are interested to grow your business based on Pentaho and be part the driving force of success behind the EMEA channel program, contact Sharmila.

Want to wish Sharmila congratulations? Leave a comment here.

Sharmila’s profile from Everything Channel CRN Magazine Top Women in Channel. See all the winners here.

BI for Dairy Farmers

July 21, 2011

Pentaho is used by many casual business users including physicians, real estate agents, store managers, resort managers, insurance agents and airport staff. Today, Pentaho is proud to add dairy farmers to the list of casual business users with the publication of a customer success story about 3A Latte Arborea, the leading dairy and milk producer in Sardinia, Italy.

Read the full case study to learn how Pentaho along with jAPS Entando and J-service have provided power to the dairy farmers to help them moo-ve ahead (we just had too). 3A Latte Arborea is an interesting story about how Pentaho BI has helped the farmers to make more profitable decisions about production costs, optimize operational efficiency, identify strengths and weaknesses in the supply chain and improve overall short and long-term planning.

Check it out in English and Italian.

If you have an interesting story about how working with Pentaho is improving your business, we want to help you highlight your great work. There are many opportunities both public and private that are available. If you are interested, please contact us here.
photo credit: iStock Photo

Pentaho Data Integration 4 Cookbook – Win a Free Copy

July 19, 2011

Pentaho is very fortunate to have such a fantastic community. There are a few community rockstars that find time in their uber busy lives to write books about using Pentaho. The latest book published, the Pentaho Data Integration 4 Cookbook by co-authors Adrián Pulvirenti & Maria Carina Roldán is making its way to the top of the Amazon bestseller tech list. Even more impressive – this is Maria’s second book about PDI in just 15 months! (In April 2010 she published PDI 3.2: Beginner’s Guide). We were interested to learn more about the book and the authors. Check out our interview below to get the inside scoop about the PDI 4 Cookbook.

Read below to learn how to win a FREE copy of the PDI 4 Cookbook and for a special discount offer from Packt Publishing

1) What inspired you to write the PDI 4 cookbook so soon after “PDI 3.2 for beginners”?
Maria: At the time PDI 3.2 for Beginners was published there was a clear need for a book that revealed the secrets of Kettle, in particular for those who barely knew about this tool. The book had a great acceptance especially coming from the Pentaho Community. Today I can say that the main inspiration was definitely that rewarding feedback.

On the other side, at the time that book was published, Pentaho was about to release PDI 4. From a beginner perspective, there aren’t big differences between Kettle 3.2 and Kettle 4. Thus, there is nothing that refrain you from learning Kettle 4 with the help of the Beginner’s book. However Kettle 4 brought a lot of new features that deserved to be explained. This was also a motivation for writing this new book.

2) What is the main goal behind the book?  What do you aim to bring across?
Adrián: This book is intended to help the reader quickly solve the problems that might appear while he or she is developing jobs and transformations. It doesn’t cover PDI basics – the Beginner’s book does. On the contrary, it focuses on giving the PDI users quick solutions to particular issues.

  • Can I generate complex XML structures with Kettle?
  • How do I execute a transformation in a loop?
  • What do I need for attaching a file in an email?
  • These are common questions solved in the book through quick easy-to-follow recipes with different difficulty levels.

3) Where did you find the inspiration for this new book?
Maria: The main inspiration for this book was the PDI forum; many of the recipes explained in the book are the answers to questions that appear in the forum again and again, as for example: how to use variables, how to read an XML file, how to create multi-sheet Excel files, how to pass parameters to transformations, etc. Just to give an example, the recipe “Executing part of a job once for every row in a dataset” explains how to loop over a set of entities (people, product codes, filenames, or whatever), which is a very recurrent issue in the Kettle forum.

Besides that, Kettle itself was an inspiration. While outlining the contents of the book and with the aim of having a diversified set of recipes we browsed the list of steps and job entries many times thinking: Is there something that we aren’t covering? Are there steps that deserve a recipe by themselves? Many of the recipes that you can find in the Cookbook came out after that exercise. “Programming custom functionality,” a recipe that explains how to use the UDJC step and quickly explains other scripting related steps, is just an example of these set of recipes.

4) What do you like so much about Pentaho (Data Integration) to make you write books about it?
Maria:  I have used Kettle since the 2.4 version, when many of the tasks could only be done with JavaScript steps. Despite that, I already admired the flexibility and power of the tool. From that moment Kettle has really improved in performance, functionality and look & feel. Its capabilities are endless and this goes unnoticed for many users. That’s what makes me write about it: The need to uncover those hidden features, and explain how easily you can do things with Kettle.

Adrián: In my daily work I integrate all kinds of data: xml files, plain text files, databases, and so on. Anyone facing these tasks knows about the time and effort required for accomplishing them. Meeting Kettle was love at first sight. Thanks to Kettle I realized that these formerly tedious tasks can be done in a fast, fun and easy way. I liked the idea of writing this book to share my own experiences with other people.

5) When can we expect the next book(s)?
Adrián: Just as Kettle, the whole Pentaho Suite has grown a lot in the latest years. There is undoubtedly much to write about it.

However at this time we’d like to enjoy the recently published book and look forward for the feedback of the Pentaho community.


Win a free Pentaho Data Integration 4 Cookbook. Like Pentaho on Facebook and leave a comment here about which chapter(s) or recipe(s) you think will be most useful for you and why (you can see the full index in the book here). You also have the chance to win on Twitter by following Pentaho and tweeting your comment with the hashtag #PDI4. Maria and Adrián will pick their favorite comment to win. Deadline to leave a comment is July 26 at 12pm/EST.

Packt Publishing is offering an exclusive 20% discount off the Pentaho Data Integration 4 Cookbook when you purchase through for Pentaho BI from the Swamp readers. At the shopping cart, simply enter the discount code PentahoDI20 (case sensitive).

***Update July 27***
The winner of the free book goes to Mike Dugan. As Adrián explains, “Because he expressed in a few words the essence of chapter 7, which is one of our favorites.”

Mike’s response to his favorite chapter and why, “Chapter 7 is the key here. Who wants to recreate the wheel??? Just like Newton I believe in the conservation of energy…. Especially MY energy. Do it once, use it a lot, look like a rock star with minimal effort.”

Well said! Congrats Mike, you will receive a free copy of the PDI Cookbook courtesy of Packt Publishing soon.

Read all the responses here

Facebook and Pentaho Data Integration

July 15, 2011

Social Networking Data

Recently, I have been asked about Pentaho’s product interaction with social network providers such as Twitter and Facebook. The data stored within these “social graphs” can provide its owners with critical metrics around their content. By analyzing trends within user growth and demographics as well as consumption and creation of content…owners and developers are better equipped to improve their business with Facebook and Twitter. Social networking data can already be viewed and analyzed utilizing existing tools such as FB Insights or even purchasable 3rd party software packages created specifically for this purpose. Now…Pentaho Data Integration in its traditional sense is an ETL (Extract Transform Load) tool. It can be used to extract and extrapolate data from these services and merge or consolidate it with other relative company data. However, it can also be used to automatically push information about a company’s product or service to the social network platforms. You see this in action today if you have ever used Facebook and “Liked” something a company had to offer. At regular intervals, you will sometimes note unsolicited product offers and advertisements posted to your wall from those companies. A great and cost effective way to advertise to the masses.

Application Programming Interface

Interacting with these systems is made possible because they provide an API. (Application Programming Interface) To keep it simple, a developer can write a program in “some language” to run on one machine which communicates with the social networking system on another machine. The API can leverage a 3GL such as Java or JavaScript or even simpler, RESTful services. At times, software developers/vendors will write connectors in the native API that can be distributed and used in many software applications. These connectors can offer a quicker and easier approach than writing code alone. It may be possible within the next release of Pentaho Data Integration, that an out of the box Facebook and/or Twitter transformation step is developed – but until then the RESTful APIs provided work just fine with the simple HTTP POST step.  Using Pentaho Data Integration with this out of the box component, allows quick access to social network graph data. It can also provide the ability to push content to those applications such as Facebook and Twitter without writing any code or purchasing a separate connector.

The Facebook Graph API

Both Facebook and Twitter provide a number of APIs, one worth mentioning is the Facebook Graph API (don’t worry Twitter, I’ll get back to you in my next blog entry).

The Graph API is a RESTful service that returns a JSON response. Simply stated an HTTP request can initiate a connection with the FB systems and publish / return data that can then be parsed with a programming language or even better yet – without programing using Pentaho Data Integration and its JSON input step.

Since the FB Graph API provides both data access and publish capabilities across a number of objects (photos, events, statuses, people pages) supported in the FB Social graph, one can leverage both automated push and pull capabilities.

If you are interested in giving this a try or seeing this in action, take a look at this tutorial available on the Pentaho Evaluation Sandbox.

Kind Regards,

Michael Tarallo
Director of Enterprise Solutions

Q&A with Pentaho Customer Success Manager Jonathan Seper

July 14, 2011

Q&A is a series on the Business Intelligence from the Swamp Blog that interviews key members of the Pentaho team to learn more about their focus at Pentaho and outlook on the Business Intelligence industry.

Our Q&A today is with Jonathan Seper, a Customer Success Manager at Pentaho. When he’s not on the phone making sure Pentaho customers are happy and on-track with their deployment, you can find the Vancouver native fly fishing in and around Central Florida! To learn more about Jonathan’s role at Pentaho and view on Business Intelligence we asked him five questions:

1.    What is your role at Pentaho?   
I am a Customer Success Manager. A successful Business Intelligence deployment requires not only a full product, but also investment of your people’s time and effort. Our team is comprised of seasoned Pentaho veterans to help our customers get the most out of Pentaho software and extensive services.

2.    Why was it important for Pentaho to introduce the Customer Success team? 
As a commercial open source subscription model, we rely on superior support to ensure our customers renew each year, i.e. we must make sure our customers are wildly successful with their Pentaho projects. BI’s inherent complexity and support/mentoring/environmental/integration requirements create the need for significant time with customers to help them figure it all out.  Not to mention every customer’s use case and environment is unique. Pentaho’s growth was increasing the load on the regular sales team, reducing their ability to spend extensive time with customers. This team is all about ensuring customer satisfaction and success.

3.    How do you ensure that Pentaho customers are successful?  
For each customer it is important to understand their internal resources available, requirements, timelines and appropriate phases to help guide them through a successful implementation. Pentaho customers also need to understand Pentaho software, which parts of it they need and our unique services to enable their team. Examples of ways that I work with customers:

  • Refresher webinars, on navigating Pentaho software and resources including:  Service Levels, the Support Portal, Knowledge Base, Engineering Sandbox, and JIRA Site where customers can request and vote for enhancements/fixes.
  • Visioning exercises – so customers can see what is possible with the tools and expand on their successes.  We have some very interesting demo examples built out, that I can share.  We are always interested in new use cases and applications that our customers come up with.
  • Review training paths and consulting options.  There are remote consulting sessions bundled into some of our packages, so I can help find appropriate topics and scope/schedule those.
  • Any other questions or concerns… if I do not know the answer I will find out! Having been with Pentaho for over five years, I understand how customers succeed with us.

4.    What is the typical lifecycle with customers who work with the Customer Success team? 
So much depends on how much work the customer did presale. For example, some customers take training first and almost have their BI Build in production; others are very new to the tool and are starting from the beginning.  While the role of Pentaho is to make a customer’s team Pentaho experts, sometimes we give them a jumpstart via consulting.  A huge milestone is when business users are actually making business decisions based on the software.  Sometime there can be substantial time/effort to get to this important milestone, other times very fast.  Successful customers usually continuously iterate (see Agile BI), and continue to build and expand their success with Pentaho.

 5.    Being the first sales rep at Pentaho, what memories stand out over the past five years?
There are a few things that stand out:

  • Exponential growth and interest in Pentaho every year!
  • The excitement of organizations as they see that Pentaho can provide real time access to data for their business users, allowing them to figure out what is working, or not, in time to do something about it, (without overburdening IT with special one-off data requests).
  • Our stable and experienced management team – and their great parties.
  • Seeing alligators on the drive home to work (I live in downtown Orlando and am originally from Vancouver, Canada).

Do you have additional questions for Jonathan or the CSM team? Is there someone or a certain role at Pentaho you would like us to interview? Leave your questions and feedback in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

Retailers Looking to Spend on Convenient Self-Service BI

July 13, 2011

Yesterday Reuters reported on a recent survey which revealed that “retailers have cash on their balance sheets and nearly half of 100 top retail executives said they are planning to spend it on technology.”

Specifically, retailers are looking to spend that money on analytical tools to “improve company growth, expansion and planning.” There is a tremendous opportunity for retailers to use analytical tools to make smarter business decisions with the enormous amount of data captured from online purchases and the cash register.

Tomorrow Pentaho customer Sheetz, a multibillion convenience store retailer, will share their experience implementing Pentaho Business Intelligence on a webcast.  Sheetz has gained visibility into purchasing behavior, store performance metrics and cross-channel trends using Pentaho. Join us tomorrow, July 14, to learn about Convenient Self-Service BI. Register here:

The New, Game-Changing Rules of Enterprise Software

July 11, 2011

The rules of the game have changed for enterprise software. In Aaron Levie’s recent article on TechCruch, “Building An Enterprise Software Company That Doesn’t Suck”, he breaks down the changes in enterprise software business into three categories. Levie details how differently enterprise software is developed, sold, and supported today versus just a few years ago.

I found Levie’s perspective interesting – especially because it matches the model that we have followed at Pentaho to achieve great success.

1. How enterprise software is developed today.

It’s no longer about products that are feature-bloated merely to get into RFP wars and win multi-year, large contracts. Those days are over – all they produced were complex technologies that had no real usage.

Now what drives demand is the real business application of software. Success is in user adoption, not in feature checklists.

This is exactly why an open source business model has been successful for enterprise software. The products are developed because there was a real business need for them. Many features are implemented and submitted by the community members, because real users need these capabilities in their business applications. This is a true outside-in, end user focus.

2. How enterprise software is sold today.

Long gone are the days of interruption marketing and trying to sell to every poor soul who happens to pass by. The buying process is much more bottoms up today. As Levie puts it, “With web-delivered, freemium or open source solutions, we’re seeing viral, bottom-up adoption of technology across organizations of all sizes.”

The open source model allows users to buy into the software (aka use it) before actually paying for it. Rather than knocking on every door to find an interested buyer, which is the model many enterprise software companies still follow, our sales organization is focused on actually helping customers navigate their options, providing consultative support and knowledgeable market advice.

3. How enterprise software is supported today.

In a traditional software licensing model, the customer pays a hefty upfront fee, just to get entitled to use the software. In addition, the customer has to pay for an annual subscription and support.

Luckily, buyers have realized that there are better options out there. As Levie rightfully notes, “The unstoppable trend toward ‘renting’ vs. ‘buying’ software, means the vendor gets paid only as the software continues to solve problems for its customer.”

At Pentaho we are committed to our customers’ success and our high customer retention numbers speak to this.

Interested to find out more about our software? Download it now.

Farnaz Erfan
Product Marketing
Pentaho Corporation


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