In an effort to encourage IT departments to open their purse strings, open-source BI (business intelligence) vendor JasperSoft is offering customers an unlimited-use purchase option for its BI suite.

The announcement revives a similar promotion the vendor ran in 2007. The latest worldwide offer comes in two tiers: $35,000 (£21,654) for unlimited use of JasperReports, its embeddable reporting engine, and $50,000 (£30,935) for use of the entire suite.

Under the deal, users receive technical support, advanced documentation and a special training class, according to JasperSoft. The software can be used by any number of applications, users and systems. But the offer is limited to a single geography, department, division, business unit, or agency, according to JasperSoft's website.

With the announcement, JasperSoft is no doubt trying to keep money rolling in as recession-afflicted IT departments clamp down on spending, particularly on potentially expensive projects like BI.

And not every BI company is making it through the harsh economic times. Software as a service BI vendor LucidEra recently announced it was shutting down operations and putting its intellectual property up for sale.

But financial considerations aren't behind JasperSoft's new offer, and the start up is in the process of closing its best quarter ever, according to a spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, the unlimited-use offer clearly has potential value for customers, but they should be aware of certain limitations with JasperSoft's products, said Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson.

On one hand, the vendor has a comprehensive BI suite, encompassing ETL (extract, transform and load), OLAP (online analytical processing) and other tools, he said.

But since JasperSoft depends on a variety of open-source projects, its components aren't as well integrated as BI products from vendors such as Cognos and SAP's Business Objects division, Evelson added.

"The only real value of open-source BI is that the lower cost of R&D is passed on as a lower cost of the overall product," Evelson said.