FAQs on SpagoBI, the only 100% open source, complete and flexible Business Intelligence suite

1. What is the SpagoBI project?
The SpagoBI project is a free software/open source initiative by the SpagoBI Labs of Engineering Group. It aims to realize the most complete 100% open source business intelligence suite, aggregating developers, integrators, companies, users and passionate people in an open community.

2. What is the SpagoBI suite?
SpagoBI is the only 100% open source, complete and flexible business intelligence suite. It’s a comprehensive suite providing several analytical capabilities supported by more than thirty analytical and operational engines. This grants a high level of flexibility: the whole range of business intelligence capabilities is covered by many engines to get the best solution according to users’ needs. Moreover, its integration capabilities grant quick results and easy deploying into pre-existing infrastructural environments. SpagoBI suite includes unique solutions, not only conventional business intelligence tools (such as reporting, charts, olap, data mining), but also original solutions for new business intelligence domains, such as location intelligence, visual inquiring, collaboration, KPIs, interactive dashboards, monitoring, real-time BI and mobile BI, thus opening new room to innovation. Its open availability and industry-grade development level is provided with a complete set of supporting professional services.

3. When was the SpagoBI project started?
The SpagoBI project was conceived in 2004. First project website went public in early 2005, highlighting its vision, design and the project organization. The first release of SpagoBI suite took place in early July 2005.

4. Why was the SpagoBI project started?
In 2004 Engineering Group, the company developing and managing the SpagoBI project, put together its own well-established skills on business intelligence and the decision to be a prominent actor in the open source arena, by developing and managing enterprise-grade projects. Therefore, it created the SpagoBI Labs with the mission to build and manage an open source business intelligence product. At that time, complete and integrated open source business intelligence suites didn’t exist: just single reporting, OLAP or data mining tools. SpagoBI was the first product to put together these and more tools in a common platform, also adding original solutions. Thenceforth, SpagoBI has grown over time to be the only 100% open source, complete and flexible business intelligence suite. To be continued…

5. Which are SpagoBI top values and differentiators?
Many are SpagoBI key values. We have selected the top five:

  • 100% open source, forever: SpagoBI is the only 100% open source business intelligence suite; the industry-grade development of its free/open source software is provided with a complete set of supporting professional services
  • the most complete business intelligence suite in the open source domain: many analytical capabilities supported by more than twenty analytical and operational engines, including unique solutions granting a high level of flexibility and the opportunity to get the best solution according to users’ needs
  • user-oriented approach: the business model favors users’ satisfaction not imposing a specific product strategy, based on the license revenue stream: the suite grows over time also integrating innovations coming from various business intelligence projects realized by SpagoBI Labs and by SpagoBI integrator partners
  • services not locked-in by software and by vendors: users pay services as they go, buying them from the best provider
  • professional services provided by SpagoBI Labs at affordable prices: no license fees, users only pay for the service when they need it, how long they need it.

6. Who benefits from SpagoBI?
A wide range of users can choose and benefit from SpagoBI: developers using SpagoBI components or extending them for their own purposes; integrators, using the suite in order to develop software projects for their customers; ISV/OEMs embedding SpagoBI in their commercial products, enhancing their capabilities; companies and organizations, both in the private and public sectors, using the suite to reach their own goals benefiting from an entirely open source product granting support and growth over time; end users benefiting from a product that allows them to easily meet many analytical needs; students and researchers freely using SpagoBI for their open source or information management studies and researches; consultants, benefiting from a free and powerful tool for their job; global or project open source communities, enriching their software stack by integrating their projects with SpagoBI; passionate people in open source or business intelligence.

7. Who is using SpagoBI?
Many companies and organizations, integrators, developers are using SpagoBI suite. As it’s 100% open source, freely downloadable from OW2 community forge without any pre-registration, we don’t know who is using SpagoBI and where s/he is located throughout the world. This is a deliberate approach in order to highlight the complete freedom of use of the suite, with a clear separation between commercial support and SpagoBI global acknowledgment, thanks to credits given by people that know its capabilities and appreciate its management policies.
Some stories about SpagoBI adoption are available here.

8. What market sector is SpagoBI suite targeting?
Business intelligence is an "horizontal" technology that can be used in any market sector: finance, insurances, telecommunications, utilities, industries, public sector, healthcare and more.
Here you can find some stories categorized by market sector (see the market-id icon). Therefore, SpagoBI is useful for any market sector, without targeting a specific one. On the contrary, SpagoBI analytics, which are composed of a data model and pre-defined analysis, are developed by market sector. You can find some examples here.

9. If SpagoBI targets all market sectors, how can you understand the various users’ needs and translate them in the suite capabilities and support services?
This is a key topic in SpagoBI envision, operating model and growth as a comprehensive suite. As described in this FAQs section, SpagoBI adopts the project-centric approach, fostering sales of professional and support services instead of software licenses (SpagoBI doesn’t sale any software licenses). This means that users’ satisfaction is the priority and that customers can pursue their own development strategy, being not forced by any vendor strategy. SpagoBI Labs: i) are involved in the development of business intelligence projects, which is a substantial amount of their revenue stream; ii) realize projects with all necessary skills (BI/DBRMS/DWH, SpagoBI specialists and business domain analysts); iii) involve and invite customers to contribute the project results to the suite; as a consequence, the suite grows over time integrating innovations and users’ requirements coming from business intelligence projects, these being included in the product roadmap and sometimes driving development priorities. Briefly, this means that SpagoBI integrates a wide range of user requirements over time.

10. SpagoBI is a complete business intelligence suite. Can you explain this?
SpagoBI is not the usual reporting or data visualization tool, but it’s a comprehensive suite covering all the analytical needs of business intelligence projects, with innovative themes and engines. This way, SpagoBI offers the widest analytical capabilities in the open source business intelligence domain, offering more than twenty analytical and operational engines, offering many choices to satisfy a specific information need.

11. SpagoBI is a flexible business intelligence suite. Can you explain this?
SpagoBI suite is not only a comprehensive suite “off-the-shelf”, but it has been also conceived and designed to adapt itself to the various users’ needs. Therefore, its modular architecture, based on open standards, allows easy customization and integration into legacy environments. SpagoBI project vision quotes "your (business intelligence) project is more valuable than our product".

12. SpagoBI is an industry-grade business intelligence suite. Can you explain this?
SpagoBI suite can be used by everybody, but it has been designed to be used at the industry-grade level. It’s a complete, robust, secure and scalable product. This is demonstrated by various success stories based on the adoption of the suite by big companies and organizations. Learn more

13. SpagoBI is suitable for any informative requirement. Can you explain this?
SpagoBI is a comprehensive suite covering all the analytical needs in the information intelligence domain. Its various capabilities grow over time. Anyway, if you have a specific request or you need a customization, you can realize it by yourself and contribute it as an extension or you can ask SpagoBI Labs to develop it. In this case, contact us.

14. SpagoBI is an innovative business intelligence suite. Can you explain this?
Innovation plays a prominent role in the development of SpagoBI suite, because i) SpagoBI Labs belong to the Technical, Innovation and Research Division of Engineering Group; ii) it participates in various Italian and European research projects and collaborates with many organizations, institutes and research laboratories (learn more); iii) it’s continuously looking for new development opportunities in order to extend the suite capabilities and its application domains; iiii) major SpagoBI’s research activities are supported by an industrial (not financial) funding.

15. What are SpagoBI Labs?
SpagoBI Labs are a working unit belonging to the Technical, Innovation & Research Division of Engineering Group, the major private and independent Italian player in IT services. SpagoBI Labs act as an open source vendor, though it is not a "pure vendor". Many of its commercial and accounting activities are managed by Engineering Group’s organization.

16. What role do SpagoBI Labs serve?
First of all, SpagoBI Lab develop and manage SpagoBI suite and projects. Moreover, they sustain and stimulate SpagoBI community helping network activities through forums, mailing lists, social networks, or participating in international events or promoting people’s participation in various business intelligence initiatives. SpagoBI Labs also provide both customers and integrator partners (which act as a second level support for SpagoBI customers) with SpagoBI commercial services. They provide support, maintenance, consulting, development and training services fostering SpagoBI suite adoption. Besides, they provides development services for the realization of in-house business intelligence projects. You can ask for SpagoBI on-demand evaluation option, in order to take advantage of a full assessment of the suite or for the realization of a pilot project or of in-house software projects using SpagoBI under a turn-key contractual agreement. This solution will be delivered to you through an on-site integration provided by SpagoBI Labs or by a local integrator partner. Learn more

17. SpagoBI is "pure open source". What does it mean?
SpagoBI adopts a "pure open source model": the suite is released as a single stable and complete 100% open source version, opposed to the well known dual-licensing model (a non-supported open source community version and a supported proprietary version) or open core model (a open source core released as the community version and an extended proprietary version including enterprise-grade features). The pure open source model eliminates any licensing costs, separating the right to use, modify, distribute the software (SpagoBI is free software) from the sale of supporting services, avoiding both software lock-in (no customer obligation to buy) and vendor lock-in (right to buy services from any provider).

18. How users benefit from the “pure open source” model?
Users benefit from the rights included in SpagoBI free software license, i.e.: right to study, to use, to modify, to improve, to distribute the software. Since a single version exists for each SpagoBI software release, these rights are non-ambiguous: if you use SpagoBI for evaluation purposes, you can continue to use the same software version once you decide to go into production; when you modify and customize the software, your efforts will be kept over time; when you send a contribution to the project and your contribution is accepted, this contribution will be included into the suite and maintained over time; when SpagoBI evolves and is enriched with new features, these are included in the evolution process of the single software version. Moreover, this single version is free of charge, avoiding both purchasing costs and management costs related to the customer purchasing process. Last but not least, if you buy the maintenance subscription service and you don’t want to renew it, you are not forced to remove the software from your servers, because the subscription is not correlated to a proprietary software agreement (EULA).

19. With SpagoBI I don’t have any software lock-in. What does it mean?
You are not locked-in by the software! In other words, your rights to use the software are clearly separated from the purchase of professional services, with no customer’s obligation to buy. You’ll buy support or maintenance subscription services, when you need them, how long you need them. And when you’ll decide not to renew the subscription, you’ll not be forced to remove the software from your servers, because the subscription is not correlated to a proprietary software agreement.

20. With SpagoBI I don’t have any vendor lock-in. What does it mean?
You are not locked-in to buy SpagoBI services either by any vendor or by SpagoBI Labs. This is one of the open source benefits, mainly if software rights are separated by services. Obviously, we think that buying SpagoBI services from SpagoBI Labs is an opportunity for you, due both to its high level of competency on business intelligence and its deep knowledge of the suite. You can also buy services from SpagoBI integrator partners: they act locally, in collaboration with SpagoBI Labs.

21. SpagoBI is 100% open source forever? How can you grant this?
SpagoBI suite is hosted by the forge of OW2, a global open source, independent and no-profit community, in order to guarantee its transparency, openness, sustainability and availability of the open source code over time. Therefore, SpagoBI Labs have delegated OW2 to grant its global free availability over time.

22. SpagoBI adopts a project-centric business model. What does it mean?
This is a key point in the envision and operating model of SpagoBI, which is not based on the sale of software licenses. SpagoBI adopts this business model because it focuses on users’ results, coming from the development of business intelligence projects or the integration of business intelligence capabilities into the users’ application developments. While a product-centric model fosters the sale of software licenses and the adaptation of software developments to the product characteristics, the project-centric model brings the project to the fore: the product adapts itself to the project needs, creating the real value which the customer is looking for. This way, the product has its own returns as well, since it integrates the innovation coming from the projects, thus returning new value to the whole community. The role of the vendor is just providing support and knowledge by selling professional services. This is coherent with the high flexibility of the suite and its vision: "(the customers’) project is more valuable than the product; a project-oriented solution is designed so as to realize customized applications, focusing on the project development. This way, it enhances the project start-up, thanks to a new ratio among development measurement, cost and quality of results, unlike many current solutions, based on proprietary products and characterized by price discrepancies".

23. How can users benefit from the project-centric business model?
Thanks to the project-centric model, users spend their money and resources in a better way. Instead of buying software licenses, they invest their money to buy the experience and support services provided by the vendor and to realize the desired software integration by themselves, supported by an integrator or taking advantage of the vendor’s professional services. This way, any single piece of money is spent to get the user’s expected results. This is the result of the fact that SpagoBI business model favours users’ satisfaction, not imposing a specific product strategy based on the license revenue stream. If something changes over time, the initial investment is not missed. In fact, the user retains the right to use the same software (thanks to the pure open source model, avoiding any software lock-in). Users can continue to run their developments, to enhance their solution and even to change their software supplier (no-vendor lock-in). Our advice is to keep in touch with SpagoBI community over time: SpagoBI continuously grows and innovates. SpagoBI Labs are always willing to give you any support over time.

24. SpagoBI suite has no price. Does this mean that it has no value?
No price doesn’t mean no value. Monetary value exists (money saved or better spent by purchasers or money earned by sellers) and non-monetary value exists as well. Value for free comes from SpagoBI being state-of-the-art software, from its completeness, flexibility and innovation, from its model avoiding both software and vendor lock-in. However, its main free value comes from the openness of SpagoBI team to new collaborations: collaboration is everything in open source. Even more, you get a great value also when you spend your money: you save money since you don’t purchase any software license, but you also make your price depending on your needs. With SpagoBI, you pay for the services when you need them, how long you need them.

25. SpagoBI doesn’t sell any software license. On the other hand, a project needs funding to support itself over time. Where do your incomes come from?
A credible open source project must be sustainable. Moreover, SpagoBI Labs are a for-profit organization, also if it strongly believes and sustains the values that underlie software freedom. As SpagoBI's revenues don't come from licensing sales, they come from the subscription to (support and maintenance) services and the purchase of professional services by integrators or by SpagoBI Labs' customers. Main SpagoBI revenues come from development services, as a consequence of SpagoBI project-oriented pure open source business model.

26. How do you come up with ideas for new SpagoBI features or services?
New SpagoBI features and services are conceived thanks to SpagoBI Labs' business and technical expertise, constantly overlooking the business intelligence market evolution. SpagoBI Labs act according to a dual role: SpagoBI editor and business intelligence systems integrator. As a consequence, it has a good feeling with real market needs and future expectations, which enables it to take major decisions. Moreover, the project-centric approach contributes to the progressive growth of SpagoBI, integrating innovations coming from daily users' needs. This way, the suite development balances a constant by-design evolution with their adaptation to users' requirements, this way being enriched with a continuous real-world value.

27. What open source license does SpagoBI use?
SpagoBI suite is both free and open source software: you can study, use, modify and distribute modified copies of this software under the terms of the Mozilla Public Licence v. 2.0. This is a weak-copyleft, commercial-friendly license. This means that you can realize and distribute applications based on SpagoBI as MPL-licensed code can be combined with code released under other licenses, either open source or proprietary. More information is available here.

28. SpagoBI uses different software components released under various open source licenses. Can you explain this?
SpagoBI is an original suite proving unique solutions and a wide range of analytical tools. In order to provide users with different options for the same analytical area, also using the state-of-the art of open source software, SpagoBI sometimes uses/links components/libraries that are developed by third-parties and which are available under a variety of other licenses. You can see the list of those licenses here.

29. SpagoBI is an open source project belonging to OW2 Consortium. What does this mean?
SpagoBI suite is one of the top downloaded products in the forge of OW2 Consortium (www.ow2.org).
This project is developed and managed by SpagoBI Labs of Engineering Group, which releases it only in the OW2 forge, according to the policies of this community. Therefore, SpagoBI "is granted" not only by its development team, but also by a global open source, independent and no-profit community, in order to guarantee its transparency, openness, sustainability, quality and availability of the open source code over time. Consequently, SpagoBI contributes to the growth of the software stack of OW2, whose goal is the development of open source distributed middleware as flexible and adaptable components. These components range from specific software frameworks and protocols to integrated platforms.

30. What is the connection between SpagoBI and the Eclipse Foundation open source community?
SpagoBI Labs develop and manage the Eclipse Foundation eBAM project (extended Business Activity Monitoring). eBAM features, combined with SpagoBI advanced data analysis and data representation capabilities (including reports, KPIs and interactive charts), gives rise to the SpagoBI solution for Real Time Business Intelligence.

31. I’m a SpagoBI beginner. How would you advice me to approach SpagoBI?
The best way to start using SpagoBI is to watch the demo and to download the All-In-One package from OW2 forge. It's a ready-to-use environment on Tomcat application server hosting SpagoBI demo documents. It uses HSQL database to store data for the SpagoBI schema and the sample "foodmart" schema. You can study the existing demo documents and, if you want, start building new ones using SpagoBI Studio, which can be downloaded in OW2 forge as well. If you want to get SpagoBI used more, the following resources may help you: the SpagoBI QuickStart tutorial, that you can download from the forge; the recorded SpagoBI tutorials; the SpagoBI wiki including technical documentation; SpagoBI forum where you can find out all technical questions and related answers, provided by the community. Furthermore, many training options are available, delivered in-class, remotely (as web meeting) or as recorded training courses. See SpagoBI Courses Catalogue. You can also take advantage of a cheaper support service for beginners. Some of the above-mentioned services are purchasable in the on-line SpagoWorld Shop. If you want to know even more, contact us.

32. Where can I find SpagoBI documentation?
SpagoBI technical documentation is available in SpagoBI Wiki. SpagoBI complete documentation is purchasable in SpagoWorld on-line shop.

33. What if I want to use SpagoBI in my software project?
SpagoBI suite is 100% open source: you can freely use it in your software projects, without paying any licensing fee. You must comply with its open source license provisions. Consider that open source software is distributed without any warranty, without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In this event, if you need support, you can use SpagoBI community tools. Otherwise, if you need the software warranty or you wish to ask for professional support, SpagoBI Labs can provide you with various services, described on SpagoBI website or within this FAQs section.

34. I’ve checked SpagoBI demo and its capabilities are far more than what I actually need. What do you suggest?
You can start with something simple, just reporting. Then you can add some simple analysis like ad-hoc reporting and charts (from the beginning, we suggest trying more than one business intelligence feature: they are free) and then, add more analysis over time. Everything is free and you can make your solutions evolve according to your analytical needs, without updating the SpagoBI version you are using. You can also try something that you have probably never experienced, such as interactive dashboards or location intelligence. Moreover, when you’ll decide to ask for the support service, you’ll pay it just according to the engines you are using.

35. I'm looking for a capability that I don’t find in SpagoBI suite. Can you help?
SpagoBI suite has so many features that you’ll probably find an answer to your needs. In any case, you can post your request in SpagoBI forum or insert a new feature in the SpagoBI roadmap tracker or contact us proving us with the description of the feature you are looking for. If it doesn’t exist and you need it quickly, you can build this by yourself and then contribute it to SpagoBI project. Otherwise, we can develop it according to your specific requirements and release it within a scheduled deadline, at a special development rate. The software will be also included in a new SpagoBI suite release, as your contribution. Learn more on SpagoBI Consulting services.

36. What if I want to embed SpagoBI in my commercial software product?
SpagoBI open source license is a commercial-friendly license. You can integrate SpagoBI into your proprietary solution and distribute it, with the exception of the third-party HighCharts component, as well as SpagoBIJpaloEngine and SpagoBIWekaEngine, whose distribution shall comply with the terms and conditions of their respective license. For further details please refer to SpagoBI License List. A typical example is the realization of SpagoBI analytics, which are composed of a data model and pre-defined analysis, which fully exploit the potentials of the suite to support various business domains. In order to realize your application, you must respect some rules: publicly advice that you are using SpagoBI, making clear that SpagoBI is released under the MPLv2 license, in compliance with the terms and conditions of the various distribution licenses; distribute every extension or enhancement to the SpagoBI code under the same open source MPLv2 license; your distribution must include your application as well as SpagoBI suite without eliminating any legal and licence text. SpagoBI Labs can provide you with technical and legal support, including best practices for software development, review of your application or support services: contact us.

37. Where can I find information on your support services and prices?
All information is available on SpagoBI website at the following sections: support; consulting, training and in the on-line shop. If you need more, contact us. You can find also a dedicated FAQs section here. You'll find reasonable prices, which you can tailor to your specific needs.

38. How is SpagoBI support provided worldwide?
SpagoBI suite is supported everywhere: Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Support is provided by SpagoBI Labs international offices or by the wide partner network. Moreover, the open source global communities (OW2 Consortium and Eclipse Foundation) provide more communications resources, contact opportunities and reputation. Worldwide SpagoBI Labs provide support in English, French and Italian. Local partners can provide support services in other languages.

39. How to become SpagoBI partner?
Various partnership levels are available: integrator, supporter, technology and training. All information is available on SpagoBI website here. You can find more in the specific FAQs section.

40. Who participates in SpagoBI community?
SpagoBI is a project targeting business intelligence and this environment characterizes the composition of the community, which is made up mainly of companies, integrators using it to realize software projects for their customers and developers. Also developers of other open source products participate in the community, willing to integrate their solutions with SpagoBI. Anyway, SpagoBI is an open community. If you wish to be part of it, raise your hand and use the appropriate community tool! If you want to contribute, we'll be happy to highlight your contribution on SpagoBI website. Learn more

41. How many people are there in SpagoBI community?
Many people download, study, use SpagoBI. You can use SpagoBI resources in many ways and for free: no registration is required. It’s a very open, non-commercial community. Therefore, we don’t track the community width. From the project start taking place in 2005, only in December 2009 did we start asking users for a weak-registration (mandatory fields: username, password and a valid e-mail address), which allow them to use SpagoBI community tools. In a couple of years the number of registrants raised up to over one thousand and it’s still growing day by day.

42. What role does SpagoBI development team serve to SpagoBI community?
SpagoBI team sustains its community, stimulates it by providing information and resources, actively participates in the forum discussions, takes part in debates on the social networks. The more the community is active, the more SpagoBI team is involved in it.

43. How can I contribute to SpagoBI project?
You can participate and contribute in many ways: register and use the community tools; join the contributors and improve software and documentation; contribute to the project roadmap; send us your story; become SpagoBI partner; follow the news; meet us at periodic events; get SpagoWorld newsletter.

44. I’m using SpagoBI and I like it. How can I spread the word?
This is a way to foster SpagoBI adoption all over the world, in the real open source way. If you get something for free, give back something for free as well. Give & share is important, not just giving. And your use case is very important to provide the community with your point of view. Send us your story. In return, we’ll publish it on SpagoBI website here.

45. I’m a student and I’d like to use SpagoBI in my study. Can you help?
SpagoBI Labs collaborate with universities and students, participate in workshops, presentations, support internships and master degree thesis. Here the full story.
Go through the various sections of SpagoBI website and you'll find many answers to your questions. Some of them may also be situated in this FAQs section. If you need more, post a request in SpagoBI forum or contact us. According to the full open source approach, we’ll ask you something in return: a summary of your work, your story or something else … what you like. Remember: to give for free is important, but to give and share is far more important than this!

46. How can I keep updated on SpagoBI news?
Include SpagoBI home page within your preferred links of your browser, we often update it. Register to SpagoWorld monthly newsletter. Follow us on Twitter and Linkedin.

47. Where does the name SpagoBI come from?
SpagoBI is the project focusing on the realization of the free software/open source software for business intelligence belonging to the SpagoWorld initiative. This initiative was incepted in 2001 and started in 2004 through the start-up of the first project focused on the realization of the java framework named Spago. Thenceforth all the projects belonging to SpagoWorld share the common root Spago (SpagoBI, Spago4Q, Spagic). In fact, SpagoBI added the termination BI (Business Intelligence). Why Spago (i.e. twine)? First of all, this is not an acronym but an Italian name (chosen by the Italian company promoting the initiative), characterized by an easy pronunciation. It can be used as a base for creating new names within a common ecosystem and it is suitable for an integration approach (it ties, without compelling). It may remind of the fine Italian cuisine: well, if you like Spaghetti, Spago software may be an excellent choice for you! Read the full story here.

48. How can I ask more?
It depends on the type of your question. If you want to know more about technical topics, post your request on the forum. If you want to know more on the commercial services supporting SpagoBI suite, contact us by e-mail.
Please, remember that you can find more information on this website or in the project wiki.

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