I found Pentaho Data Integration the most valuable component since it is the most mature open-source ETL tool available. Compared to other proprietary products it has a less steep learning curve due to it's very intuitive user interface. Besides that it has a pluggable architecture which makes it quite easy to extend with custom functionality and features.
Another thing worth mentioning is the very active user community around the products which provide some great resources for community support.
Improvements to My Organization
As for the data integration part each development team were writing their own integration scripts, parsers and interfaces from scratch on each different project over and over again. With Pentaho Data Integration which offers all these common tasks out-of-the-box we reduced development time significantly. Also by using such a universal tool and introducing a uniform architecture it became a lot easier for our developers to switch and/or join between the different development projects.
Also on the business intelligence part we moved from developing custom solutions on each track to the usage of standard functionality of the BI server and thus cutting down both complexity and development time.
Room for Improvement
Since most of our projects start off as a proof-of-concept with the Community Edition version of the products we found that the differences between the Community- and the Enterprise Editions are too big on certain levels. It would be a big gain if the Community Edition version would be a full representation of the Enterprise Editions making it easier to move on to the Enterprise Edition and support.
Use of Solution
I started using Pentaho Data Integration around seven years ago and moved on to the full stack about five years ago.
I have seen many different (custom build) deployment solutions for Pentaho throughout the years each having their own pros and cons.
We've had no issues with its stability.
Since Pentaho supports running as a single process to a clustered architecture and has a big focus on big data (distributed) environments, scalability hasn't been an issue for us.
Customer Service and Technical Support
The open source strategy of Pentaho has resulted in a very active community which provided us all the support we need. Compared to other big vendors my personal experience is that response times are a lot shorter.
Most of our previously used solutions were custom built. We have evaluated both open-source and proprietary competitive products but found that Pentaho was the easiest to adopt.
Depending upon the solutions nature, the initial setup for a basic data warehouse architecture is quite straightforward. But as with all solutions as the landscape grows and user requirements evolve, the complexity increases. I think that Pentaho suits well in today's demand for a continuous integration approach. With this in mind the initial setup is crucial in a way not to find yourself spending a lot of time and effort in refactoring the complete solution over-and-over again.
We implemented it in-house. Keep your development and implementation cycles short and small if possible. Users demand fast implementation of requirements so the continuous integration approach becomes more crucial as well as self-service functionality. From which the latter is not yet the strongest use-case for using Pentaho yet.
Decrease of development time compared to our traditional development cycles in pure Enterprise JAVA solutions should be estimated around 60%.
Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing
Unfortunately I can't provide any exact figures about this. But using the Community edition for the development and test cycles drops down the licensing costs for the complete OTAP street.
As mentioned before, there is a great community of users, developers and other enthusiasts which I recommend to consult for your particular use-case. Check the latest Gartner report (2016) about BI vendors and ultimately visit one of the Pentaho Community Meetups to get more insight.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Feb 25 2016