“Our huge reporting infrastructure is based on Pentaho Business Analytics”

Using Pentaho at a large scale: CERN
Using Pentaho at a large scale: CERN

With 15,000 potential users, CERN is one of the largest Pentaho users in the world. The European Organization for Nuclear Research uses Pentaho since 2014 and thus offers a wide range of fascinating use cases. Gabriele Thiede and Jan Janke have been working with Pentaho at CERN for years and after having presented the different aspects of the project at past community meetings (PCM17 and PUM18), they will share it with us at Pentaho Community Meeting in Bologna.


Gabriele, Jan, who are you?

Gabriele Thiede, Director Monitoring and Reporting Section, CERN
Gabriele Thiede, Director Monitoring and Reporting Section, CERN

Gabriele: I am a native Berliner, born in 1965. After my professional training as a paralegal in judicial services and some years of professional practice, I discovered my passion for computer science. In 1995, I successfully finished my university studies in Ulm and Berlin and participated then in a three-year research project about electronic transaction processing in the Ministry for environment, nature protection and regional planning of the Land of Brandenburg.
Since 1998, I am working at CERN, where I could use and enhance my skills in the domain of Business Process Reengineering. After 18 years of experience with administrative processes and informatics at CERN, I have been granted the responsibility of the Reporting and Monitoring service that does not only provide official figures and statistics about CERN’s administrative sector, but develops also its web sites.
When I am not working, I am taking part in the CERN Ski Club, organising as a volunteer winter activities for ca. 1000 members. In addition as an avid cyclist in my spare time and for my daily commute, I actively engage in CERN’s activities to swap from car to bike.

Jan Janke of CERN uses Pentaho for reporting and analytics
Jan Janke, Deputy Leader of Administrative Information Systems at CERN

Jan: I am a software developer originally from Leipzig/Germany. I finished university with a joint Franco-German degree (Master equivalent) in “International Business Informatics” in 2004. During my university years and until joining CERN in April 2005 as a staff member, I worked as an IT consultant and software developer for an Austrian/German software house active in the area of business process modelling and integration.
After joining CERN, I first started to work as a Java Enterprise/ORACLE application developer providing various business-computing related software services. In 2011, I became Section Leader. Since then, I am in charge of the Administrative Information Systems (AIS) group’s internal development infrastructure, its central data warehouse and the related BI and reporting services and applications. In 2014, I was appointed Deputy Leader of the AIS group. I now assume the co-responsibility for the entire business-computing infrastructure of the organization.
My personal interests in informatics cover areas such as full stack web development, JVM programming languages and playing with sports scheduling and simulation algorithms. When not sitting in front of a screen, I enjoy swimming and biking (principally in the nice and quiet landscapes of the Jura Mountains and the Alps).

CERN is probably one of the biggest Pentaho users. Can you give a short overview of Pentaho’s story at CERN?
We are both working in the area of business computing at CERN. Running CERN from a business perspective is very challenging, considering that it is the World’s biggest Particle Physics research organisation. Here, we welcome more than 12,000 guest scientists from all over the world on every single day in addition to dealing with the particularities of an international organisation sitting on top of the Franco-Swiss border. Pentaho has entered our lives in 2014. After an extensive evaluation project, we decided to move our BI/reporting infrastructure from Business Objects to Pentaho (more details in my interview for PCM17).

Probably one of the largest Pentaho users ever: CERN presented by Jan Janke
Jan at Pentaho Community Meeting 2017

While at the beginning we were principally looking at Pentaho for its reporting capabilities, we have actually benefitted the most by moving all our major ETL processes to PDI. PDI is now our tool of choice for integrating our real-time Data Warehouse with the various data-delivering corporate systems.

In addition, we have already built a huge infrastructure of reporting based on Pentaho BA. Here, we are mainly using Pentaho Analyzer, Pentaho Report Designer and CTools to deliver reports of all complexities to different user communities. Directly or indirectly (through intermediate tools which rely on Pentaho using web services), up to 15,000 users are exposed to some sort of content that is generated by or flowing through Pentaho tools.

What will your talk be about?
We will set the stage by presenting in a short overview of what we are doing at CERN focussing on the daily challenges of business computing. Using Pentaho, we have built a new BI infrastructure from ground up. This includes the creation of a new common Data Warehouse (DWH) for administrative data. This DWH is kept in synch (in near real-time) with the various corporate systems using PDI. We will show some of the specific challenges we had to deal with when building a real-time DWH integrating a fully bi-temporal data model.

Gabriele at German Pentaho User Meeting in March
Gabriele at German Pentaho User Meeting in March

We will also address some of the organisational challenges we faced during the past four years and show you how we are able to deliver new solutions for specific reporting needs since we started to move to Pentaho. Of course, there are also some new areas, such as predictive analytics and machine learning, we plan to start exploring more in the near future.

You have attended PCM17 and German Pentaho User Meeting. What are your expectations for Bologna?
Last year, we have been positively surprised by the interesting exchanges with other people using Pentaho for their day-to-day jobs to solve real problems. There was not much marketing and the focus was on bringing people together and discussing how to address practical issues.

For Bologna, now knowing better what to expect, we hope to continue the discussions and learn about the solutions other Pentaho users have found in areas such as data visualization, reporting performance management or for instance how access rights and data security in general are enforced, especially in the context of new regulations such as the GDPR. We also hope that some of the things we have developed with Pentaho at CERN, can bring some ideas to others and help them progress with similar issues. Finally yet importantly, we are looking forward to spending a nice day with other Pentaho enthusiasts in the beautiful city of Bologna, which is full of history.


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