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Monday, 09 May 2011 14:59

Open source attacks data stack


A loose affiliation of open source organisations is forming, which hopes to provide a more serious challenge to monolithic data management and business intelligence systems sold by companies such as IBM, Oracle and SAS Institute.

Executives from Cloudera, Couchbase, Revolution Analytics and Jaspersoft will take to the stage at the Open Source Business Conference being held in San Francisco later this week to explain how they are creating what they call the Data Stack, intended to offer open source tools to enterprises to help them clean data, store data, analyse data, and present data.

They hope that much as the open source LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl) was adopted as an open source web development platform, the Data Stack will be adopted by enterprises looking for an open source data management alternative.

Its proponents are keen to stress that the arrangement is a loose affiliation and common strategy rather than an official partnership, and while it currently comprises four organisations, the Stack as it stands could easily accommodate another four or 12 likeminded organisations according to its current protagonists.

Speaking to iTWire from the US, David Smith VP of community for Revolution Analytics said; 'In much the same way as the LAMP stack emerged I see the same thing happening with the Data Stack to manage data - store data, feed it into predictive analytics and then manage the presentation of data.

'Organisations that need to use their data have a choice of monolithic solutions from IBM or Oracle or SAS but we are seeing business start to adopt alterative solution and take open source layers where the obvious benefit is cost - but the second advantage is that you get a best of breed solution.'

The argument of the Data Stack group is that enterprises quickly get locked into proprietary solutions, from which it is costly to escape. Mr Smith said that vendors took advantage of that inertia to; 'Up the licence fees at usurious rates.'

Will others join the stack? Read on...

Brian Gentile, CEO of Jaspersoft said that the cost of switching had got so out of hand that organisations were looking to ring-fence existing systems and then build alternative open source systems when it a new data system was needed. For example he said; 'We are seeing a return to lighter weight and faster time to value to solve online problems.

'The lightweight assembly also gives more agility. It's got a cost model that's geometrically different to that where they have come from.'

Mr Gentile said that; 'The benefit of the stack is that we work together to create new integration points, which combined with the community effort, leads to rapid improvements.' Mr Smith offered the example of a new open source connector that had been developed to link Revolution R and Jaspersoft, and said that other integration points would follow.

As indeed might other open source players. According to Mr Gentile; 'We are talking to other companies we think will want to participate - while we are talking four vendors today it could easily be 8 or 16.'

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