This article lists 5 handy open source tools that businesses can use for business intelligence and reporting purposes. Generally, companies rely on firms that provide open source development services to develop custom open source solutions to serve such purposes. But with the rapid growth of big data, there is also a rising demand for tools that could come in handy for enterprises – that which complement their existing enterprise solutions.

The tools mentioned in this article are all open source, providing solutions to having business data analyzed and presented in a readable format. The following list comprises of both business intelligence and reporting tools.
 

JasperReport

 
One of the most widely used open source technologies in the business world, JasperReport finds its use mostly in production environments. Community and commercially-supported versions are available.

The key components include JasperReport Library, JasperReport Studio, and JasperReport Server. The JasperReport Library includes all APIs and Java classes that power the tool. The tool licensed under AGPL also makes it easier to integrate with existing IT architecture of organizations. It features praiseworthy documentation support, a wiki, and other useful resources.
 

SpagoBI

 
SpagoBI is a full business intelligence suite providing many features from reporting to data mining and ETL. What makes SpagoBI unique is the fact that it supports integration with other tools including KeyRock identity manager, CKAN, Orion Context Broker etc. It’s written in Java and licensed under the Mozilla Public License version 2.0.
 

BIRT

 
The open source Eclipse project was the source of origin for BIRT which was released in 2004. The open source platform sponsored by IBM, OpenText, and Innovent Solutions was designed to help create data visualizations and reports.

Its key components include BIRT runtime and report designer, chart engine, chart designer, and chart viewer. It’s also written in Java, licensed under the Eclipse Public License. BIRT runs on all popular platforms including Windows, Linux, and Mac.
 

Seal Report

 
Seal Report allows one to generate reports and produce dashboards from any open database. Some of its many features also come with support for Dynamic SQL sources, HTML5 charts, native pivot tables etc. It’s written in C#.

The open source framework requires a recent version of Microsoft Windows to run, along with .NET framework. It’s licensed under the Apache License Version 2.0.
 

KNIME

 
KNIME is an open source analytics platform originally developed to serve pharmaceutical research. Now it’s a widely popular tool across many sectors including banking, automobile manufacturing, and telecommunication.

KNIME provides many features including a web portal and collaboration extensions, and also includes machine learning and WEKA support. The platform, licensed under the GPL, is written in Java and is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac.
 

Conclusion

 
Open source technologies generally have great importance when it comes to software development in the business realm. But it could be just as useful, if not more, in serving other purposes of enterprises especially in data analytics, business intelligence, and reporting.

All the tools mentioned above come with powerful features fit for enterprise use. However, the smarter approach to selecting a tool would be to compare them with respect to the business needs and goals. Because they are open source tools, it’s also possible to seek help from an open source development company to tweak the tool to adapt and align perfectly with your business.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

Considering today’s fast-paced development cycles and cloud-boosted enterprise growth, businesses require firm and steady support from robust software that fits well within their environments. In light of such dynamic business ecosystems, forbidding open source technologies and relying solely on proprietary closed source software could be detrimental. Leveraging open source components efficiently can benefit enterprises in more ways than one with just a small investment.

One such benefit would be the competitive edge an enterprise can get; particularly startups. Despite prevalent security concerns about open source, several enterprises still rely on open source development services to craft custom software that can augment their operations and accelerate growth, and most of them succeed.

Why some are not succeeding even with the power of open source is a question that can be attributed to how they leverage the technology.

That said, here are a few best practices for enterprises to get maximum benefits from an investment in open source technologies.
 

Patch management

 
Even if it’s a custom-built software, an enterprise requires a centralized patch management framework. This ensures that patches from vendors are applied to the organization’s infrastructure on time and with efficiency. This is a security aspect that generally raises questions about open source software security.

Yes, the source code is available for all. But it doesn’t necessarily compromise the security of the software as long as the code isn’t made available for the public. The point is that many enterprises neglect certain security vulnerabilities such as the OpenSSL vulnerability. Developers can update components to fortify the software and augment the security. But ignoring vulnerabilities like the one mentioned above can delay updates considerably, giving room for cyber-criminals to infiltrate and cause damage.

That’s why organizations need to cultivate the ability to patch quickly and manage patches. Developers who know what they are doing would recommend cataloging the various open source components to keep track of them. So when a vulnerability is exploited somewhere, they can identify the applications that are at risk from the inventory, and fortify them with patches.
 

Prescribed policy for leveraging open source

 
The risk appetite of organizations vary based on their maturity and their targeted markets.  The organization should have a prescribed policy or a set of guidelines regarding how they will use open source software. Lacking such policies might lead the IT team to assume that they can use any open source component. This could, in turn, result in a product brimming with vulnerabilities, incompatible software licenses etc.
 

Controlled repositories

 
Optimized modern day IDEs make it possible for developers to get access to large open source libraries within their native environments. However, this may contradict an enterprise’s policies. Organizations can bar access to such repositories giving access only to approved software components.

Using commercial products that regulate and provide access to local cached versions of repositories is a good practice which allows the security team to closely monitor and control which components are included in the final product. Additionally, this practice also ensures that only approved components are used not other versions that may add potential vulnerabilities to the product.
 

Conclusion

 
Open source software development is not going to decelerate any time soon, and proves to be the catalyst that brings innovation into the mix in the modern enterprise. However, such widespread use also creates risks. The key is to understand open source components and formulate policies that ensure judicious utilization of the components. This could keep driving innovation without impacting security.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

The demand for enterprise software that can accelerate business growth or streamline business operations is also a critical factor behind the growth of open source development services across the globe. Startups have started building businesses around open source software, owing to its various benefits without a lot of investment.

The growth has been slow but consistent. Open source first arrived claiming that it is a step further ahead of proprietary software. Despite criticisms, open source software are now decisive even in enterprise DevOps ecosystems.

The technology encourages innovation, especially in the software development sector, and that is what we can expect next year. That said, let’s take a look at 5 trends in open source enterprise software that we will be seeing next year.
 

Addressing security concerns with improvements

 
Many years back when open source announced its presence, its security was questioned. Enterprises chose to avoid open source out of fear that there would be security vulnerabilities in the code. There was also the concern of programmers with malicious intent inserting security holes in the code – because it’s open source.

It’s been a long while back. Now, open source software are as safe as their proprietary counterparts.

A survey by Black Duck in 2015 found that 55% of their respondents had believed in open source solutions having better security compared to proprietary software.

However, the doubt still remains.

Addressing these concerns have been a priority this year. And 2018 is expected to clear this doubt for good, especially considering new technologies like blockchain that’s redefining data security.
 

Bonding with the cloud

 
Open source apps found their way into the cloud, and shares a close bond with the technology now. This is evident from the fact that popular cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure compete on the basis of their open source friendliness.

There isn’t a shortage of open source cloud tools either – think Jenkins and Puppet for DevOps, and OpenStack for infrastructure…
 

Microsoft’s finally acknowledged the potential of open source

 
Microsoft didn’t like open source. Over a decade ago, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer thought Linux was ‘cancer’. Years later, in 2015, the tech giant started a partnership with Red Hat finally acknowledging open source for what it’s worth.

Closed source software was the core of Microsoft’s business. Now it’s one of the organizations with the biggest open source contributors on GitHub. This partnership could give us innovative solutions that would benefit enterprises next year as well.
 

Adoption of open source containers

 
Containers like Docker are now being adopted for open source eCommerce development in a DevOps ecosystem. This isn’t necessarily a new trend but one that will continue for years.

According to a report from Forrester, the research firm estimates that one third of enterprises across the globe test the use of containers in production. Forrester also estimates that application containers market will grow by 40% in 2020.

As for Docker, the most popular container, owes its popularity partly to the fact that it’s open source and outpacing its competitors and traditional virtual machines with its many benefits. Because it’s open source, devs will be able to extend its functionalities without getting locked-in like when handling proprietary software.
 

Conclusion

 
Almost every worthwhile technology is evolving at a great pace now, including open source. This evolution also advances enterprise IT to higher levels providing organizations with the leverage to grow bigger and better. Incorporating open source to do just that to your business is the right move it seems.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

Mobile devices, or rather ‘smartphones’ to be specific, have become part of our lives in just a few years. The devices have only grown smarter over the years, providing a plethora of services that can make things easier for us. But what makes these devices this smart?

The broad range of apps that provide such services deserve that credit.

Despite having different operating systems, there is still a whopping number of applications for users to choose.

In fact, according to Statista’s reports as of March 2017, Android mobile users can choose from about 2.8 million apps while iOS users have a library of close to 2.2 million applications.

Because of how significant they are today, these apps should be developed with utmost care, compromising neither on security nor user experience. Any shortcomings in an app can annoy users to the point that it’d start impacting the businesses that own the app itself. To make sure that an app usable, bug-free, secure, and performance efficient, developers make use of a variety of frameworks, some of them open source.

Businesses providing open source development services have also been booming consistently for the past few years. Many developers now choose to use open source programming languages and frameworks for development.

That said, let’s take a look at the most popular open source frameworks used for mobile application development.
 

Framework 7

 
Primarily chosen for the development of iOS apps, Framework 7, as of now, also offers Android support making it a unique option when it comes to building iOS apps first and then developing an Android counterpart. Its main benefit is that it facilitates iOS app development with just JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.

Other main advantages include:

  • Support for cross-platform hybrid app development
  • XHR caching and preloading
  • Custom DOM library

 

jQuery Mobile

 
A popular open source framework known for its large user base, jQuery Mobile is generally an ideal choice for simpler applications that run on Windows and BlackBerry platforms. Though it lacks advanced features, its ‘write once, run anywhere’ feature makes it unique compared to its rivals.

jQuery is lightweight and allows developers to make apps that run seamlessly across all mobile devices without compromising user experience.
 

Mobile Angular UI

 
Mobile Angular UI is a successful combination of Angular JS and Twitter’s Bootstrap, making it a mobile UI development framework. It features Bootstrap 3’s syntax which grants developers easier web-to-mobile portability though it isn’t dependent on Bootstrap. In fact, there is no dependency to jQuery either. Its libraries include the likes of fastclick.js and overthrow.js.
 

Sencha Touch

 
This framework has a dedicated developer following as it makes developing cross platform end-to-end mobile applications easier with HTML5 and JavaScript. The core of Sencha Touch is ExtJS, a popular JavaScript framework. Though it’s open source, a licensed version is also available with advanced features. Its main feature is that it allows developers to reuse various custom components.

Other important features include a drag-and-drop HTML5 visual application builder, and a good collection of widgets with a native look and feel for all the popular mobile platforms.
 

Conclusion

 
Open source is not always about the huge community supporting the products and services. The growth of open source software has been rapid and consistent for many years. It has made a name in the software development sector within a short time, and has started imprinting its mark on mobile app development as well. Evidently, these frameworks and their user bases testify to the same.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

Open source keeps picking up the pace every year evidently. It was expected to boom as each year passed. Now we have reached a point where almost all applications feature some sort of open source element.

According to Gartner, an estimated 70% of newly deployed applications would be running on open source databases by 2018.

Integrating open source elements to an application enables developers to cut costs considerably and reduce time-to-market. The immediate future may add to the benefits, but because of technology’s metamorphic nature, the existing and established ways will be replaced with new ones.

Here are a few ways open source technologies can transform enterprises in the coming years.
 

Critical gaps in the model will become obsolete

 
Despite its unprecedented growth and the many benefits for developers, the open source model still has many critical gaps that haven’t been addressed yet. One of the most important of those gaps – collaboration, however, is being redressed. By 2018, experts expect seamless collaboration in software development and other sectors with multiple functionalities.

We already have collaborative platforms sporting functionalities like video conferencing, essentially allowing developers to form workgroups. A great example is GitHub.

But it isn’t just collaboration that needs to be addressed. There are obstacles for troubleshooting and technical support as well, more so than we think despite the huge open source community in the internet. Great technical support so far only applies to the more popular open source titles. This ‘hitch’ led to a new trend where open source software will be provided with commercially supported services. Though this can somewhat set things right, this particular gap is expected to be completely taken care of next year.
 

Security concerns will be addressed

 
This is something we’ve been hearing for a long time, ever since open source started gaining traction. Security has always been a concern since the source code of open source software is open and free. Because anyone can modify this code, vulnerabilities will most likely be present. This makes it particularly easy for hackers, and particularly threatening for enterprises wanting to use such software.

Things got more complicated after enterprises started shifting to the cloud while using open source software outside the company firewall. All hackers need to do is exploit those vulnerabilities to get access to the system from outside the firewall. This increases the risks of high impact cyber-attacks on profitable applications that enterprises use.

For the past few years, developers and security professionals have been paying close attention to this issue, while figuring out ways to implement effective security mechanisms and encryptions. 2017 increased the stakes. So we can expect some serious progress on this issue next year.
 

The Open Source – IoT compatibility

 
Open source established its authority as a preferred platform for the growing IoT. The application is primarily on the automobile industry. Although things look good at the moment with open source technologies being adopted by more businesses for IoT related applications this year, experts estimate that the sector will soon start to be plagued by the same concerns people have when it comes to general open source software.

2018 will be about exploring open source vulnerabilities in the IoT and sector, and hopefully coming up with effective solutions. That said, the automobile industry is certainly going digital and open source will definitely play a vital role in its evolution in the coming years.
 

The fate of existing open source technologies

 
Open source technologies have proved their worth in the form of stable and efficient infrastructure software as well. However, more cutting-edge closed software solutions have been coming out recently, offering considerably better services to customers. However, despite the odds, the open source community promises an immediate comeback in the sector. This could mean that enterprises will have far better options for infrastructure solutions next year that are well worth the investment.

The same can be said for Cloudera, another open source platform that’s gaining popularity along with Elastic. Though it’s still too early to say that these technologies will have a much bigger role in the coming years, they will nevertheless trigger the development of more efficient solutions – open source and otherwise. Other existing open source technologies like Drupal 8 is expected to evolve even further to give more flexibility to developers in future projects. This also applies to companies providing open source development services.

Collectively, everything seems to be indicating that there is no stopping the open source trend any time soon. It has grown larger this year, and shows no signs of stopping next year as well, unfolding lucrative prospects for enterprises and startups alike.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan
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