Birst Review

Provides the ability to create an end-to-end BI solution using a single software stack product.


What is most valuable?

Its ability to create a complete, end-to-end BI solution using a single software stack product is the most valuable feature. This is important when we consider the need to apply agile development approaches to the creation of BI/analytics software implementations.

Birst essentially removes the previous BI software stack paradigm which was premised on the need to have at least three differing software products so as to achieve an end-to-end data processing platform. The need to manage three different software assets was (historically) the reason a BI project could not be ‘agile’.

How has it helped my organization?

The ways in which it has improved the working of our organization are mentioned below:

  • Limited overhead resourcing (a single skill set is required).
  • Dramatic reduction in the time needed to create either PoC implementations or defined software products.
  • Ability to create a ‘packaged’ BI product which can be considered as a plug-n-play opportunity, either as an internal asset or more importantly for sale in the market.

What needs improvement?

  • Visualization: This aspect of the product is not up to the same level as its competitors in the market. However, it should be noted that Birst provides a complete end-to-end solution, whereas all its competitors are providing solutions for the front-end visualization piece only (for example, the Tableau solution).
  • Cloud performance: While this is a unique selling point and a significant advantage in the market, we experienced some issues with the performance in the cloud-based offering when hosted in the US. However, I now understand Birst has an APAC data center.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this solution for around 18 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

How is customer service and technical support?

The technical support is quite fair. Since we are a US-based organization, we required communication with the US on a regular basis.

While the support was excellent and timely, the need to sync time zones did cause some issues. However, I now understand there is a dedicated APAC technical support team based out of Australia.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We were not using any other solution; this was a green field implementation.

How was the initial setup?

There was zero setup complexity, as the solution is offered via a cloud infrastructure, i.e., no local installs are required.

The only challenge was understanding the transformation syntax (BQL). As an example, we created a series of analytics products using the tool in a matter of weeks and that, too, with zero prior Birst experience.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Licensing is an issue in Australia due to a fairly high-level entry point (also priced in USD). However, one must consider that the license cost negates all of the local infrastructure requirements, including hardware.

Birst is a complete solution, i.e., there is zero need for any additional software in order to complete a BI project. This is not the case with any other competitor in the market.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other products such as Tableau, QlikView, and MicroStrategy.

What other advice do I have?

When considering the entry cost, you need to take into account the cloud architectural component. There will be no further infrastructure costs; hence, it can actually end up to be a cheaper option.

You should also review the competitors in terms of the end-to-end architecture. Many competitors will claim to have an end-to-end solution, when in reality there will be a highly manual (command line) facility built-in.

Birst has been developed from the ground up to be a true end-to-end BI / analytics product. There are zero additional software requirements in order to create an enterprise-wide / scale solution.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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