Fast-growing Jaspersoft aims higher with paid BI

Startup also trumpets meeting key milestones

Jaspersoft Corp. announced a new version of its open-source BI software on Tuesday aimed at paying enterprises, trumpeting its momentum alongside the launch.

The enterprise edition of Jaspersoft 3.7 -- itself an upgrade -- includes integrated in-memory analysis, graphs and charts made with Adobe Flash, a new search-powered report database, and more. It will start at $35,000 a year, said CEO Brian Gentile.

Jaspersoft also comes in a professional edition that starts at $20,000 a year, and a free community version.

The venture-backed San Francisco startup is closing in on several impressive milestones, said Gentile:

  • 10 million downloads.
  • 150,000 production deployments. Jaspersoft is being adopted by companies ripping out "one of the aged proprietary vendor products," Gentile said.
  • 11,000 verifiable commercial customers, which Gentile says includes anyone buying a paid module, support contract all the way to a full commercial software suite.
  • "Hundreds and hundreds" of companies that have subscribed to Jaspersoft's full software suite. And finally... - Becoming cash-flow positive. "We won't need to do anything unnatural" to get there, he said. However, Jaspersoft has no plans for an IPO this year, he said.

Jaspersoft made a good move at its founding. It openly espouses an "open core" model in which it reserves specific features or modules -- along with their underlying source code -- only to paying users.

For a long time, that went against the prevailing open-source vendor business model, in which even free users got access to all features and source code, and vendors relied wholly on support and maintenance fees.

But many open-source startups are struggling financially. So some are trying to move to Jaspersoft's model -- called by others the "freemium" or "dual-distribution" model -- and facing a backlash as a result.

The revolt after Sun Microsystems Inc. tried to reserve certain features only for paying MySQL customers is the most notable example.

Jaspersoft does try to keep nonpaying users happy by not keeping too many things closed-source. "It's a constant balance of having your foot on the brake and the foot on the gas," he said. But all in all, it "has never had any backlash because we've always had the open-core model," Gentile said.

The other thing buoying Jaspersoft is its many channel partners. Ingres Corp. bundles Jaspersoft into its IceBreaker BI appliance, RightScale offers Jaspersoft in the cloud, and many companies integrate it under the covers of their apps, to simple system integrators as well as resellers.

Half of Jaspersoft's deployments are via partners, Gentile said. This is particularly popular in markets like Japan and China, where customers want a local presence, or the federal government, where Jaspersoft relies on savvy government contractors.

Many open-source companies have avoided striking channel deals, hoping that their software can gain popularity through sheer viral downloads. Gentile says that's utopian.

"There are preferred ways for finding, trialing and buying software, and we need to adhere to those as much as possible, with some modification -- we have to be more cost-conscious than the average software company of ten years ago," he said.

Eric Lai covers Windows and Linux, desktop applications, databases and business intelligence for Computerworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericylai, send e-mail to or subscribe to Eric's RSS feed .

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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