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Pentaho Refreshes Business Analytic Platform

Pentaho 4.8 introduces a new iPad-ready native app -- dubbed Pentaho Mobile BI -- along with a new visual discovery tool, dubbed "InstaView."

Pentaho Inc.'s new version 4.8 of Pentaho Business Analytics introduces a new iPad-ready native app -- dubbed Pentaho Mobile BI -- along with a new visual discovery tool, dubbed "InstaView."

According to Donna Prlich, Pentaho's director of marketing, Pentaho Mobile BI is the company's first mobile-optimized application, and InstaView enables visual discovery in combination with big data sources such as Hadoop, MongoDB, and Cassandra.

Pentaho's new iPad-ready app is HTML5-based, which means that it could, notionally, run on the Android, BlackBerry, and Windows tablets, too. Prlich and other Pentaho officials stop just short of endorsing this idea, however. "[R]ight now you could run it on Android, we just haven't tested it. Our development team has told us that it will run, however," she comments.

Instead of focusing on cross-platform breadth, Prlich says Pentaho opted to optimize for the iPad's look and feel. "We wanted [to deliver] a brand-new mobile experience. Our thinking was, let's try to not just bring business analytics onto the iPad, but let's make this experience as familiar as it is with any other ... app [a business intelligence consumer] would use on the iPad. So we offer ... this capability to not just view and access reports and dashboards, but to be able to create content, also: to edit reports, create new reports, and so on."

Pentaho, says Prlich, didn't just want to transplant a desktop BI experience into a mobile context.

"We emphasized personalization [for the iPad], so using native gestures: it really looks like a true iPad app, so we moved much more in that [mobile] direction from what we had before with the existing [Pentaho] product," she explains. "The new product has many ... of the native gestures that you would expect from an iPad app: you can tag your favorite [reports, scorecards, other assets] or view recently opened [assets]."

Pentaho pitches Mobile BI to all potential user constituencies, but vice president of marketing Ian Fyfe says that InstaView is designed for a savvier user class, such as power and adventurous users. It's a visual discovery tool, similar to offerings from QlikTech Inc. (QlikView), Microsoft Corp. (Power View), MicroStrategy Inc. (Visual Insight), or SAP AG (Visual Intelligence).

"It's an instant and interactive data discovery and development tool for big data. In three steps, you can select your data source, auto-prepare your data, and then you're kind of off and running, able to explore and analyze data visually," he claims. "The focus was on reducing time, creating access to data -- kind of removing some of the layers of having to be concerned about how much data that is, what type of data there is, where that data might live."

Fyfe couldn't say when -- or if -- Pentaho plans to release a Mobile BI app for Microsoft's new Surface tablet, or for any other Windows 8-powered tablet, either. "When it comes to [Windows 8], it's so new, honestly, we have not made concrete plans around that. I think we're just going to see what the adoption looks like within enterprises. It wouldn't be a big problem for us to take [Mobile BI] through the process of customization [for Windows 8 tablets," says Fyfe.

Mobile BI isn't yet available for any smartphone platform -- including iOS -- although Fyfe and Prlich stress that it should run on any HTML5-compliant device. "As far as moving to smart phones, we don't have a precise ... plan for which [platforms] we'll do first," Fyfe notes.

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