The Boulder BI Brain Trust


March 2011 Archives

Actuate Accelerating With BIRT

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actuate1.pngActuate Corporation is presenting with Nobby Akiha, SVP Marketing and Mark Gamble, Director Technical Marketing. Nobby started with an overview and status of the company. Founded in 1993, the company generated $134.7 million in FY2010 (23% operating margin) with 570 employees.

They have had strong OEM customers using BIRT as an information delivery tool to customers and partners of BIRT developers. BIRT is distributed as open source so that Actuate business model focuses on low sales costs/cycles that accelerates a global audience. The motivation to purchase the for-fee enterprise version of BIRT are the additional features beyond simple reports. Licensing of the open source allows full permissions to embedded and distribution.

actuate-arch.pngMark continued to explain the open-source ('the free stuff') version of BIRT. BIRT means "Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools" and is a top-level Eclipse project. The open-source code that was developed and contributed primarily by Actuate to Eclipse Foundation. Mark gave a demo of BIRT, starting with the Eclipse IDE, data source, and data set. Then, creating a grid, chart within one cell of the grid, connecting to the data set, etc.

The architecture (expand by clicking on the right) shows that the BIRT Designer generates the XML design file, which is interpreted by the BIRT Engine producing the end document.  BIRT is highly extensible with data sources, app logic, viz formats, and rendering output, along with open APIs among components.

actuate-value.pngActuate's enterprise BIRT version extends features in development, user interaction, deployment and scalability. Finally, check out the hub for BIRT developers at BIRT-Exchange.

My Take...

BIRT has an active global open-source community with the Eclipse Foundation. The challenge for Actuate is to translate that activity into revenue from the licensing of the enterprise version. For developers already involved with Java and Eclipse, BIRT is an easy adoption for generating simple web-based reporting. As the business requires growth in scale and functionality, BIRT's extensibility  and Actuate value-add provides a roadmap for future BI requirements.


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