open source business intelligence (OSBI)

Open source business intelligence (BI) is, technically, free BI. Instead of selling traditional software licenses, open source BI vendors charge subscription or support fees for their commercial products.

Open source business intelligence (OSBI) is, technically, free business intelligence (BI) software. Instead of selling traditional software licenses, open source BI vendors charge for support, documentation and code that's been fine-tuned for specific implementations.

Open source BI code typically supports reporting, online analytical processing (OLAP) and data mining software as well as dashboards, bundled data integration and data profiling tools. Although open source is enticing to business managers because it doesn't cost anything to get the code, using it requires expert technical knowledge. This wouldn't stop a larger organization from using use open source BI to test proof-of-concept projects, but it might prevent an organization with a small IT staff from adopting the open source model .To make OSBI products more user-friendly, vendors package the code in "professional" or "enterprise" software suites that include expanded functionality, technical support, bug fixes and training. 

See also: software-as-a-service business intelligence 

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Steve Miller and David Reinke from OpenBi.com maintain that open source BI is a disruptive technology.

This was first published in November 2010

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