The ObjectWeb consortium is to include a business intelligence platform in its open-source software stack.

Members of the non-profit consortium have already contributed a J2EE 1.4-compliant application server, Jonas, and numerous other open-source enterprise software elements to the middleware software stack. Now Engineering Ingegneria Informatica, a systems integrator in Rome, is contributing SpagoBI, a business-intelligence platform built on the Spago J2EE framework.

"It's a unified business-intelligence platform, and it's now available in open source," said Francois Letellier, deputy executive director of ObjectWeb.

Business-intelligence software is used to access and analyse business data from diverse sources, presenting it through a simple interface. SpagoBI can be used to build reports and dashboards using data mining, QBE (query by example) and OLAP (online analytical processing) techniques, all accessible over an Intranet using thin clients.

"We didn't reinvent the wheel to build SpagoBI. We used the most interesting of the available open-source solutions," said Gabriele Ruffatti, architecture and consulting director of Engineering Ingegneria's research and innovation division. SpagoBI uses existing ObjectWeb projects such as Jonas, Spago and a Java enterprise portal, the eXo Platform.

The platform can extract data from any database that complies with the JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) interface specification, Ruffatti said. Engineering Ingegneria has tested SpagoBI with DB2 UDB, HSQL, MySQL, Oracle and PostgreSQL databases, and it may work with others, he said.

"Usually, our customers already have a database, so our aim is to integrate that," Ruffatti said.

There are some database applications the open-source software company hasn't hooked up with yet, though, including Microsoft's SQL Server.

In addition to working with multiple databases, the software also works with multiple application servers. "We can run on Jonas, JBoss, WebSphere or Tomcat. We haven't tested on BEA, but I think it's possible," Ruffatti said.

And it can be integrated with proprietary business-intelligence platforms too, including those from Business Objects and Hyperion Solutions, he said.

This means that integrators can take existing systems and replace or expand them piecemeal with open-source components. "Some of our customers have proprietary products. Our idea is to move them towards a full open-source solution," Ruffatti said.

The consortium plans to release an updated version by the end of the year, adding an ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) engine to process data into different formats and integrating the Enhydra Shark workflow tool, which is also part of the ObjectWeb software stack, Ruffatti said.