Bluenog adds open source BI to portal, content suite

Running a mix of commercial and open source legacy applications, some of which were developed in the early 90s, was a factor in selecting a platform that would allow Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) ease the labour of content management.

The Palisades, N.Y.-based facility’s associate director of IT, Sri Vinayagamoorthy, said the team was unhappy with the content management tools they were currently using, and furthermore, “we have lots of Web sites, thousands of Web pages and our Web content management process has been mostly manual.”

CIESIN is in the development stage of deploying Bluenog ICE version 4.0, an integrated suite of content management, portal and business intelligence. With the platform, Vinayagamoorthy said he estimates IT labour dedicated to the current content management process – currently two staff – can be cut to half or even less.

And while CIESIN is not deploying the portal and business intelligence components yet, Vinayagamoorthy said the availability of those capabilities down the road was a deciding factor.

Among the other influencing factors, he said, was the ability to integrate with legacy and third-party systems “and being able to plug in those products is important for us.”

That Integrated Collaborative Environment (ICE) by the Piscataway, New Jersey-based vendor takes a holistic application perspective where a capability like content management, business intelligence, or portal are but some of the components of a comprehensive enterprise infrastructure, said Bluenog’s CEO, Suresh Kuppusamy.

Enterprises already have investments in legacy systems, so this “solves the immediate problem of working with what you have,” said Kuppusamy. “And at the same time, eases you into how you would like to build future applications because at the end of the day, it’s not how you build your portals, but how you build your portals with all the Web 2.0 technologies such as AJAX, Flex and essentially being able to provide a collaborative environment.”

Vinayagamoorthy said CIESIN has an interest in building applications in the future, specifically upgrading the facility’s main Web site and “we didn’t want to do that until we have the right technological platform in place.”

Bluenog’s holistic strategy is also reflected in the fact that its products are based on open source software, and is an approach that tries to integrate open source and commercial technologies, said Kuppusamy. “So we sit right in the middle.”

“The blending of open source and commercial is going to happen for a good deal of time,” he said, “because of the investment that companies have already made in commercial solutions.”

Version 4.0’s predecessor included the content management and portal systems only. The integration of the business intelligence component is a new feature.

While Bluenog seeks to provide an integrated collaborative enterprise environment by, among several things, providing multiple components like the latest business intelligence capability, Russell McOrmond, policy coordinator with the Canadian Association for Open Source has a differing ideal approach to the enterprise infrastructure.

McOrmond said he doesn’t particularly find value in integrating multiple systems from a single vendor. Instead, he believes open and common interfaces across vendors, or open and freely implementable standards is the ultimate goal.

For instance, the objective of the Microsoft-Novell partnership, recalls McOrmond, is to see the two companies collaborating and opening up interfaces between competing products “such that an enterprise can sit there and say ‘we have some Novell Linux stuff, and we have some Open Directory stuff and we have some Microsoft Access stuff, and it all talks to teach other.’”

Future iterations of Bluenog ICE will offer more capabilities around business process management and creation of mashups. “The goal is to get closer and closer to your back office systems so at the end of the day, you’re working with a comprehensive suite that can touch your business directly,” said Kuppusamy.

CIESIN’s deployment of ICE is expected to be complete in three to four months.

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