Openbravo, one of the leading open source ERP vendors, is enhancing its analytical capabilities by integrating with Pentaho, a leading open source BI solution provider. Some of Pentaho’s modules will be embedded into Openbravo’s ERP application.
There are several approaches to providing BI capabilities to an ERP solution. The most common approach is to have two completely separate,dedicated systems – one for ERP, the other for BI. The BI piece will include a data warehouse, where operational data from the ERP systems is stored, a reporting tool and an analytical engine, working on top of the data in the data warehouse. An ETL tool, in charge of extracting data from the ERP system and uploading it to the data warehouse database, is also required.
The main advantage of this configuration is that it separates between the operational system and the analytical system. If you do not separate the two, you will find yourself with an ERP system that is overloaded with user queries, that might bring your operational users to a complete halt.
The disadvantage of the separation is that it can become a complicated, expensive and an unreliable process. Also, having to manage additional systems (your BI servers) in your landscape has its overheads.
There is also a hybrid model, where some of the user queries are performed against the operational system, while some are done against the Bi servers.
It is interesting to compare the two leading open source ERP solutions, Openrbavo and Compiere, in their approaches to Bi functionality. Openbravo is talking about ‘embedding’ Pentaho’s modules into their ERP system, so there is no separation here. It makes things much easier (and much cheaper) for customers implementing Openbravo, as they have BI functionality out of the box. For Openbravo, it means they have to invest in developing that integration.
Compiere took a different approach. They decided they do not want lock-in with any specific BI vendor or tool, so they provided a business view layer, which allows system administrator to easily generate database views. These views are generic, allowing any 3rd party reporting or analysis tool easy access to Compiere’s data. The views could also be used by the ETL tool, in a separate ERP-BI configuration.
We are yet to see the Openbravo-Pentaho integration (it’s due to be released next month), but we’ll provide more details once its out.
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