Meet the most active and friendly developer community in Open Source BI

October 27, 2010

One of the highlights of my job as the “Pentaho Community Guy” is the yearly Community Gathering. This year, thanks to Webdetails, it was in beautiful Cascais, Portugal.  For a full recap of the event check out the blog, Pentaho Community Gathering (live), courtesy of Jan Aertsen at kJube.  This is the third year that the community has gathered for a weekend of presentations, beer and fun.  In 2009 it was in Barcelona Spain and before that, Mainz Germany.

I have been working with the community for about six years both as a developer and as community manager.  I’ve watched it go from a few familiar people answering questions in the forums to a daily flood of ideas (and other stuff) in the IRC.  Where it really gets fun and interesting is when people who work together, help each other and joke around every day, get to meet in person.  The flow of ideas accelerates greatly when in person and not constrained by a command line.

So – why only get the community together just once a year?  Community members in the London area had the same question and decided to start a Pentaho London User Group.  They are holding their first Pentaho London User Group or PLUG today, Wednesday October 27th. If you are near London stop by.

As the London group was getting the word out, other community members from around the world have been vocal on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, asking about starting a group.  To help people get started, we’ve created some guidelines and added resources to the Pentaho community site to help people connect and organize their own Pentaho User Group or PUG.  Each group will have it’s own personality and be owned by it’s local community. PUGs are a place to share best practices, foster innovation, network and build relationships with other Pentaho professionals.

Visit the home of Pentaho User Groups where you can find information about current Pentaho User Groups, let others know about your group and find answers to questions related to starting a group of your own.

I do believe that we have the most active and friendly developer community in Open Source BI. However, you can see for yourself by attending or starting a Pentaho User Group online or in-person.

Doug Moran
Community Guy

Photo courtesy of Jan Aertsen. To learn more about who’s who in the photo visit

In the time between writing the blog and posting it, a new PUG has formed in the Benelux region. Welcome to our new PUG.  Make sure to check out the PUG home page, new ones are starting everyday.

Now available: Pentaho Kettle Solutions

September 21, 2010

Congrats to Matt Casters, Roland Bourman and Jos van Dongen for their new book available today: Pentaho Kettle Solutions: Building Open Source ETL Solutions with Pentaho Data Integration. You can buy it on Amazon or Wiley (they also have free exerpts)

If their names sound familiar it is because Roland and Jos are also the authors of the Amazon best seller – Pentaho Solutions: Business intelligence and Data Warehousing with Pentaho and MySQL published August 2009. Matt is the Kettle Project founder and Chief Architect of Pentaho Data Integration.

My copy is ordered and I can’t wait to read it.

Doug Moran
Pentaho Community Guy

What is Agile BI? Your answers from business user to fluff

May 12, 2010

Last month, Pentaho sponsored a contest where people answer the question -“What does agile BI mean?”  I was lucky enough to be one of the judges to determine who made it to the final five and win a Flip Ultra™ camcorder.  The results were posted today Now it’s up to the community to vote for their favorite answer and the winner gets an iPad – (yes, that means you).

When reading through hundreds of entries I began to see a pattern and being an old BI guy, that meant I had to make a pie chart. The answers fell into 5 main groups: BI Solution Development, Business Users, Entire Business marketing Fluff and Other.

Almost 34% of the entries cited Agile BI as an iterative methodology for developing BI solutions involving the end user as early and often as possible.  It is exemplified by one of the finalists “Agile is about speeding up the design/create/ship/observe cycle. The more you ship and observe, the better you learn to design and do. Whether you’re headed in the wrong direction or the right one, it’s imperative that you find that out as soon as possible.” Exactly what we have started with the PDI 4.0 release and are continuing to focus on.

A full 25% of the responses focused on the business user with quotes like, “Agile is never being caught flat-footed – being able to react and adapt with ease, leaving competitors in your wake.” The ability for end users to explore and analyze business data beyond static reporting is very important.  Applications like Pentaho Analyzer and Web-based Ad hoc Query and Reporting address this need. The modeling perspective added to PDI 4.0 reduces the complexity and learning curve associated with building metadata models and schemas in order to put that analytical power into the end user’s hands.

A little over 12% were not concerned whether the agility was on the development or user side.  They just knew that the business had to react quickly to changing business conditions.  “Agile means being able to rapidly adjust to changing conditions with speed and accuracy” was a typical response in this category.

Exactly 15% of people responded with what I call fluffy messages. These were creative and got the most attention from our marketing people (I wasn’t the only judge)  “The antonym to SAP”, “Less work, more money” and “Agile (with Pentaho) means never having to say you’re sorry.”

The last 14% were entries like “agile is eliga read backwards” and the self-referencing “The only way to make agile decisions.” Not sure where they were going with some of these but they were also entertaining.

Out of the entries, there were nine attempts to make a phrase by using words that start with the letters A-G-I-L-E. Two people submitted papers on agile BI.  We even had a submission written in Haiku.  No one went for the extra creativity points by using video or interpretive dance.  We didn’t get any abusive, obscene or SPAM entries, which was nice.

There were only two negative responses complaining that Agile BI was marketing hype.  Here is one of them, “Two answers. 1. Personally, “Agile BI” means nothing to me. Sounds like yet another attempt by marketing to create an artificial differentiator. 2. If I had to describe “Agile BI” or die, I’d say, “An Agile BI environment enables an organization’s people and processes to quickly adapt to new or changed user requirements, ideally through self-learning and pre-emptive adjustments.” Answer two is exactly what we intend to enable with this initiative and when we are successful, that will prove the number one answer wrong.

Pentaho is committed to Agile BI. We believe our development plan is in line with the majority of respondents to this contest. PDI 4.0 is a great start but it is just the first steps and we are using this feedback to help set the product roadmap for the next half of this year and beyond. Thank you for participating! Please vote for one of the finalists.

Doug Moran
Pentaho Community Guy


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