Vanilla Portal

Dear Readers,

One of the coolest work we have achieved with Vanilla v4 is the adoption of latest Gwt standards & widgets, to make Vanilla portal one of the best portal in terms of respect of Web 2.0 standards. This post is about Vanilla portal, and how we implemented Web 2 & latests Gwt/Chrome widgets with Vanilla version 4

Just have a look at the main interface, where you can see dynamic frame (for group switching), icon highlighted (to run other Web Interfaces) and list / icon view for any panel

Vanilla portal Interface – sample 1

Beeing cool is nice, fun, but it’s not enough to capture user adoption. User Interface has to provide usefull functions – luckilly there are tons in the Vanilla portal interface. Some have been there for a long time, such as database switch, run / view for reports, access to history, and one of the latest is “history access panel” that can help any user to remind himself whether or not he ran a specific report (and can be usefull to admin to understand if a report is acurate). Print screen below is worth thousand words

Vanilla portal Interface – sample 2

Last thing, in addition to cool interface & usefull functions, is repect of standard & providing advanced interface. Just have a look at the search interface, and how we implemented the “Chrome alike arrows” to navigate between interfaces … easy & usefull … and adoption is here !

Vanilla portal Interface – sample 3

Finally, Vanilla portal is easy to use, assuming you are ok with latest Firefox or Chrome browsers interfaces & gadgets. Working on making interfaces easier to use has been one of our challenge with version 4 … and we achieved it !

Have Fun !


Open Source & Business

Dear Readers,

Open Source & Business is like Html5 & Web2, like Big Data & noSql : it’s compliant, it can be part of the same strategy and it can be deployed in parallel … but it can also lead to high confusion in partners’s mind (like system integrator or vc). We all wish Open Source projects – as opposed to commercial software – wont have the destiny of company like Sun or Technology like Flash (both having a strong position, before an external event killed the process)… on their way to be out of the market by an outside techy decision (ok, without html5, flash would have kept its position for a while).

2012-2013 season is a great period for Open Source Bi platform, especially for Vanilla. First months of the year, as a follow up of version 4 launch, is a crazy period for the “Team”, all the persons, developers & consultants, who worked hard to make Vanilla the de facto standard in Open Source Bi area. Bpm-Conseil – the company behind the Vanilla project – is in place to develop the project, and give insurance to legacy customers about project development.

It’s no secret I don’t understand some other said Open Source strategy, or better I claim those companies are not Open Source anymore. Turning an aggregate of various open source projects under a “certified” umbrella has nothing to do with Open Source origins … it’s just a business position, brand recognition … past has teached us it never last !

I’m happy to see our Business position (we focus on project development rather than making short terms money) is getting more and more fans, and promoters. It took times but people now understand why an Open Source company can’t be sized & managed like a commercial company, and luckilly, with new Open Source rules emerging (in terms of licencing, to protect real Open Source companies), along with the “pure code” concept, it’s again XMas before official agenda for the Vanilla project,

Have Fun !


Analysts versus Commercial

Dear Readers,

What a disgusting Magic Quadrant from Gx … well, one of the only way they have now is to make noise publishing marketing & commercial “analysis”, waiting for people to start battle about the “said analysis”. This year, they brought the “analysis” to a next level of incompetency, no offense to their “bi marketing vp” …

One thing we learnt from the past is to take analysis like … paper. In Europe, we are still under pressure because of us financial agencies (look what happen last night again in Greece !) … and courageous position is to tell those agencies that their job is not “god word”, especially when they have interest with some publication (strange to notice that nothing has changed since 2008).

In software, same thing : they have to sell their “analysis”, and in parallel they need sponsors … so, how to take this like something else than “paper’. One thing we have to reward is Pentaho vision. Thanks to people like Richard Daley and James Dixon, Pentaho founders, some people tried to build an Open Source alternative in Bi … well, Pentaho is no more Open Source, Richard is no more leading Pentaho, but at least, they tried.

If we are in the place with Vanilla, its indirectly due to our early investment in Open Source & Pentaho … I don’t forget some discussion I had with Richard at that time (I still disagree with his strategy, so Vanilla …). Reading Pentaho is back in 2012 MQ is amazing … in 2010, based on editor declaration (remember : MQ is based on editor declaration, not on any analysis study from Gx marketing Vp), they were in … and kick out in 2011. What is interesting is the “visionaries” position : yes, Pentaho was a visionar … 6 years ago … funny to notice MQ is not putting the editor at its right place … but again, marketing & commercial has nothing to do with analysis.

Gx management, please, take real analysts … you will be surprised to see the number of valuable Bi platforms that European & Asian companies have built … far away from this 90%+ Us based editors ! So happy this MQ has no more influence in Europe, customers are still happy to be invited to show … but they know what is the reality.

About Vanilla in MQ ? hehehe, I’m not certain this post will help (!!!!!!!!!!!) … anyway, we refused to answer to their survey, because its sensitive information we can’t share with commercials … and we don’t sponsor their events … so …

Have Fun !


Vanilla v4 launch, 4 Weeks after

Dear Readers,

4 weeks since we launched Vanilla v4, we are still working on upgrading our base of supported customers, and still no real issues raised from the current deployments. We recently just fixed 2 subjects : a Url redirection issue with Dashboard documents (intranet / extranet configuration) and a cas authentification issue. Customers are happy with version 4, and bigest customers will turn from 3.x to version 4 soon (I hope this coming march ?)

Number of download is still above our expectation, with new customers & large system integrators as new adopters (more than 550 downloads in 2 weeks, including more than 170 full server & designers download … its 6 servers per day …). Version 4 is meeting customer expectation, and is ready to go to the next level : enterprise wide deployment

What is next ?

We are working on some interesting features, in relation with customers requests (Olap, Dashboard & Web Reporting), taking Vanilla v4 to even more interesting designer & user features (I will soon start posting on this subject … but dynamic cells management in Dashboard is really something I waited for months … even “Dashboard oriented” commercial products like Qx, Px and Tx dont provide it !). In parallel, we increased the number of training sessions, in France and South Asia, to answer to customers demands … giving funds to Vanilla development team !

The “Vanilla Wave” is slowly but strongly turning to a “Vanilla Storm” … still 100% Open Source … still French Head Quarter … Still supported & promoted by the original development team ! 2012-2013 is a crazy season for Vanilla, getting the fruits from our investment … since the beginning, we kept the open path : “product & customer respect first” … keeping the promise about product … customer respect … its not only words … with Vanilla, it’s real !

Have Fun !


Vanilla & Application Servers

Dear Readers,

Just a short post about Application Server certification, because amongst the various Application Server, “servlet” platform (like Tomcat) and various JDK version (shrotly, 1.6 and 1.7), its not easy to find its way when it comes to provide a certified version.

As told before, going now to enterprise-wide deployment with Vanilla, we were requested by new customers to provide certification for Oracle Weblogic 12.x and Redhat JBoss 7.x.

Thanks to web forum & resources, it was easy to go beyond the standard issues, such as OSGI deployment, oda & birt issues … Web is a must to collaborate & share knowledge, passing through the “specificities” of platform that forced you before to hire expensive consultant who “know just how to press on the button”. In that way, Web just help us to keep Vanilla internal development cost at its standard level … and within a week, we were able to provide certification for JBoss & Weblogic.

Next to come : Websphere & Jonas (French Administration !) … just stay connect & don’t miss the Vanilla wave !

Have Fun !


Vanilla Search Engine

Dear Readers,

One of the crazy features we have introduced with Vanilla v3 (17 months ago) and brought to the next level with Vanilla v4 is the possibility to use an embeded search engine on Vanilla documents (reports, but also external documents) directly from Vanilla portal

Vanilla Search Interface

Vanilla Search Result

I waited this feature for years in commercial products (some already expensive products offered additional search-box, at non-raisonable price), because when you deploy your reports at enterprise level, there is a need to run search inside report, using either report content or report properties (author, title, subjects).

Shortly, you need some piece of software such as a robust document management process (built inside Vanilla), a powerfull indexation engine (Lucene) and a clean user-friendly interface (Vanilla portal). Using Vanilla, all the report generated (and saved into Vanilla repository) along with any additional external document uploaded on the portal can be indexed to be later searched using Vanilla portal. This allow user to run cross-report search between different kind of documents using a friendly Web interface

Indexation Process can occur just after the report creation

Beeing serious with resources management, we provide features to manage whether or not a report (its history) will be a candidate for indexation, and how the document will be indexed (real time or later in a night batch process)

Enterprise Services interface for report configuration

Norparena batch management for reports that are not indexed real-time

… Beeing able to choose between real time indexation or not real time indexation is a must … because some heavy reports (with thousand of pages) may required to be sent to a batch indexation process …

Have Fun !


Vanilla Cluster Mode

Dear Readers,

Clustering is always a key subject to meet customers expectation in terms of scalability & SLA. There is the marketing way to be “cluster compliant”, those who rely on Apps Server cluster mechanisms (like JBoss cluster), and there is the true way, providing cluster mechanisms from inside the platform engine.

Vanilla Cluster Schema

The first method (Apps Server Cluster Mode) is more about full platform duplication, from portal to engine, which doesn’t provide Bi Admin with tools to manage Bi services. With the second method (Bi Platfrom Cluster Mode), your platform provides Admin with tools to deploy & manage a farm of server/services, and algorithms to spread the requests between the different services instances

Clustering is the step that comes after “service oriented” and “multi thread” architecture moves we delivered in Vanilla. “Services oriented” architecture allow a Vanilla Administrator to allocated a specific services (such as Etl, Olap or Reporting) to a specific Vanilla server (physical server or virtual server, no issues).

To go short & simple : clustering occurs when you set your Vanilla farm with 2 servers that provide the same service. The Vanilla engine (running on the Vanilla portal service) will allocate the requests on an available server/service, based on algorithm & past requests results.

Vanilla Servers running in cluster mode

What is “cluster compliant” with Vanilla version 4 ?

  • Reporting Services (very usefull to allocate a server to batch reports),
  • Etl Services (again usefull to installa various Etl engines close to databases instances)
  • Olap Services (Rolap requests can be Cpu intensive).

For Reporting (Report as a physical file) and for Olap (cache mechanism), we share or send back the document (report, cache) to the master instance (it was something tricky to do, but without this mechanism, clustering is just fake announcement !)

How does it works with Vanilla ?

To go short : you need Vanilla Hypervision to manage your farms of Vanilla servers and manage your services … this is where “free software” offer stop, as Hypervision is not available free of charge, but rather belong to Vanilla Apps set of applications, as a complementary software to manage large enterprise deployment.

Vanilla Hypervision Cluster Management

Have Fun !


Vanilla & Nagios

Dear Readers,

With current projects in large enterprise, recurrent subjects are scalability of platform, clustering of services, support for standard application server (JBoss, Websphere, Weblogic) and process monitoring.

All those subjects are not in relation with “Bi features”, but rather in relation with architecture of the platform, in addition to features such as stress function, deployment features … this is another set of subjects where Vanilla makes the difference, very easilly !!!

Talking about Nagios, 3 key subjects are available

1) standard Vanilla4Nagios package (report, dashboard, cube) that allow admin to agregate Nagios log from various servers and publish agregate statistics & monitoring information

Vanilla 4 Nagios package (available from Vanilla Place)

2) BiGateWay plugin that allow Etl developer to connect against any Nagios database and collect Nagios information (to load into an agregate database or to develop global alert management system)

BiGateWay plugin for Nagios

3) Vanilla monitoring, using Nagios : Vanilla server (services) can be monitored using Nagios … respect of Open Source development standards and concepts (like Osgi, jmx) make it easy to monitor Vanilla using Nagios

Monitoring Vanilla from Nagios

Nagios is the de facto standard platform to monitor servers, with large deployment all around the world. Vanilla version 4 and its Nagios features unleash the power of Nagios when it comes to manage Nagios at enterprise level, and leverage Vanilla set of functions. Coming soon : new set of alerts “Nagios compliant”, directly available as a new Vanilla Apps.

Have Fun !


Millions is not a Key Subject

Dear Readers,

Its true millions of dollar can’t buy everything, material or spiritual, and its also worth to notice that million of dollar can’t build everything, could it be a castle or a software

Unfortunatly, in some Open Source area like Business Intelligence, dollars from VC have been used to create brand rather than product, leading to noisy marketing campaign and customers not very happy. Sometimes, I really though that some said Open Source “editor” (either agregator of product or company that subcontract all the development) were funded by commercial Bi companies … because when you see the result, you can just turn back to commercial product.

With Vanilla, we are very proud to have built a platform without million. Motivation-devotion and respect of customer is better than million, even its sometimes a little more hard. The Vanilla project is funded by our customers, through projects, training sessions and support contracts. It keep us in contact with customers requests, it create confidence and trust between the parties. When we talk with customers about Vanilla, I’m always happy to have Vanilla compared with products like Business Objects, I take it as a real recognition of our investment.

Coming back to comparison, how to justify million of dollar burnt in marketing events, VP & Board Members salaries, if at the end, you have a non-valuable product, missing from the basis such as a true Open Source secured Metadata Layer (Designer, Engine, Integration with other Ide) ? … for some products, it’s soon time to “make money or leave”, this coming period 2012-2013 is a key season … but how to value the product ? … I’m certain they will value the brand, but it has also limits : customer and investor respect !

Have Fun !


Vanilla Portal & Group Management Features

Dear Readers,

Another feature we improved with combination of new Vanila portal and Vanilla Viewer is the possibility for the user to switch his current group to another group, without having to log in / log out, and even the possibility to run a report inside Vanilla Viewer using different groups.

How doe it works ?

Using Enterprise Service, a group can belong to different groups. When this user connect to Vanilla portal, he selects one of his group for the session. All the portal content will be display according to the group authorisation (short : On/Off access on folders and documents). Using a dynamic interface, every user can switch to another group without having to disconnect, which is very usefull also for an admin to validate the security at portal level. When switching to another group, the whole portal content is refreshed.

dynamic interface to switch to another group

A new v4 feature available when running a report through Vanilla Viewer is the possibility to run the report using another group (one of the group for the user). This is again very usefull, because the portal is not refreshed, and the user can stay in his VanillaViewer session.

In the 2 print screen below, we run a report with “system” and “default” group from Vanilla Viewer. The “default” group has a dataset restriction on “France” data.

Report using “system” group

Report running “default” group

Because Vanilla is serious in security, with clean interface such as FreeMetadata (to secure Metadata document), Enterprise Services (to manage security for User/Group/Role and portal content) and Vanilla portal (as explain above), we make it easy for anybody to run any document using one of his group from our Web Portal … just imagine if you have to validate a security policy without those kind of feature, and make your decision to turn to Vanilla for your next Enterprise Bi platform

Have Fun !