Last month I wrote about my meeting with the Richard Daley, head of the business intelligence (BI) company Pentaho. One of the things that interested me was the fact that almost uniquely in the open source world, business intelligence has not one, but two fast-growing companies, the other being JasperSoft. So, naturally I asked Daley how he compared Pentaho with his competitor, and his answer was essentially that Pentaho's offering was far broader.
So when I met up again yesterday with the Brian Gentile, the head of JasperSoft, I put the same question to him, and received pretty much the same answer: that his company was concentrating on its core elements, rather than spreading itself more widely. The fact that both men independently gave me the same story probably explains why both have managed to do so well: they are pursuing quite different strategies and so avoid head-on confrontation and destructive rivalry.
As part of his company's approach, Gentile told me JasperSoft was doing a lot of work with its reporting tools – going back to its roots, since JasperReports was the original open source code around which JasperSoft was formed. Interestingly, JasperReports is being used increasingly alongside other software by companies that want more sophisticated output from those applications, including things like allowing users to create personalised output on the fly.
It's particularly heartening to see Pentaho and JasperSoft flourishing alongside each other in this way, since it demonstrates that by careful positioning it is possible for more than one open source vendor to serve a particular sector, and that it's not always a case of winner takes all.