The pitch is enterprise-quality analytic software at dollar-store prices, but the offering is complicated and unpolished by cloud standards. Consumers of cloud services are used to a single point of entry, like an application programming interface (API) or slick Web graphical user interfaces, but buying RightScale Inc. and Jaspersoft's product -- unofficially named the "business intelligence solution" -- requires multiple logins, licensing and payment agreements. The vendors admit they aren't aiming high, but insist that vending in the cloud is a natural step.
"It's a bit of a novelty item" at the moment, said business intelligence expert Kevin Goodfellow, founder of data analytics start-up SportsDataHub. But he expects more BI firms to make similar moves. "If they don't do it, they're going to look fairly slow and stodgy. It's [also] a great way to get a little attention."
With storage, bandwidth and software readily available, there is now a market for products that used to be out of reach for small businesses, Goodfellow said. Jaspersoft was already a discount vendor, comparatively speaking. The basic on-site license for Jaspersoft, for instance, costs $14,000 per year and the new cloud version starts at $300 a month. An Oracle installation can start at $100,000.
Goodfellow said Jaspersoft has "80% of the tools at a tenth the price of enterprise-grade BI suites from IBM or Oracle." He also said it doesn't cost the vendors much to take a flyer at selling in the cloud, which is why Jaspersoft and others are discounting their prices even further for the product line. "It's cheap for them," he said.
"We think it'll invite new uses of business intelligence," said Jaspersoft CEO Brian Gentile, who said he expects enterprises will see this as a way to experiment without committing. He said there is a huge potential market in small and midmarket companies for this kind of service, but it's not a fundamental shift in his business model. According to Gentile, the company's regular product sales won't be affected. "Our regular customers see this as an interesting curiosity," he said.
One problem that remains to be ironed out is what to call this glued-together "service template"; it doesn't appear to have a formal name. RightScale calls it a "Business Intelligence Solution" or "the cloud BI stack"; Jaspersoft calls it "Cloud BI"; Talend says it is "Cloud Data integration" and Vertica don't have any obvious mention of the offering at all on their website. RightScale is promoting and vending these products, but apparently negotiations did not stretch as far as a unique brand name.
Goodfellow said that RightScale stands to gain the most, while Vertica, Talend and Jaspersoft will get some exposure, but they're not going to cash in quite yet. "I don't know what it does for BI vendors except make a very low barrier to entry," he said.