I am to research about Business Intelligence, and I searched for these:

  • Oracle BI
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • SQL Server Reporting Services

My problems are:

  • Oracle BI downloadable files are too big.
  • Power BI is only available online (you have to sign up for Office 365)

So my last and easiest way is the SSRS. Should this be enough for me to understand BI? I have read a bit about BI and it says there that I will need a data warehouse and some other components that make up a BI.


  • Free (or at least trial version)
  • Less than 1GB to download
  • Usable offline (not a webapp)
  • User-friendly for people who are not BI specialists yet
  • Feature discoverability: one can learn by using the software
  • Covering at least ETL, analysis, reporting
  • Lester, what operating system do you use? What BI features do you need?
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Mar 18, 2014 at 2:43
  • 1
    There's BIRT - I don't think anyone has accused it of being user-friendly to anyone, though ;) Mar 28, 2014 at 12:25

3 Answers 3


Pentaho (Community version) will suit your purpose perfectly.

Pentaho has separate software programs for each aspect of BI (ETL, cubes creation, drilling/MDX, reports, dashboards, automation, etc), making it easy to understand the various activities of Business Intelligence.

Each of the entities is Open Source. That means that not only it is free, but in addition you can read the source code if you really want to study it in deep. Open source means that no "magic" or "black box" will prevent you from understanding everything that is going on.

Lastly, the Pentaho community is much more open than other BI communities, which means that you will more easily find blogs, questions/answers, tutorials.

I learnt BI by myself just by exploring Pentaho.
Works on Linux/Mac/Windows.


Back in the lost days of programming without resources (three months ago), I used ART - A Reporting Tool (http://art.sourceforge.net/) to build quick and dirty data visualizations. It's a open-source, cross-platform reporting solution.

It's the lightweightEST solution around (there is a version that takes only 2.5mb of disk space, compare with 1.8 gigs of Pentaho 5) and dumb enough to install\configure\use with very little practice. I built and deployed at least two "enterprise" reporting systems using it.

The author and a small but cooperative group of users is also available at the sourceforge forums.

Lastly, in case you need something more advanced, it can talk with Pentaho's Mondrian server too.


There's several available for free. They tend to have a steep learning curve but they won't cost you anything other than time. I suggest you try Jasper, BIRT, or Pentaho (in that order).

  • Could you please detail Jasper and BIRT? Thanks!
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Sep 12, 2014 at 2:16

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