Q&A with Bob Kemper, Executive VP of Engineering

1.   Tell us what you do at Pentaho

As Executive Vice President of Engineering at Pentaho, I’m responsible for the entire product delivery process. This includes everything associated with product development, such as coding, testing, and documentation. Additionally, I lead the technical and architectural direction to ensure we are keeping pace with the technology marketplace, and aligning our technical roadmap to our product roadmap. Furthermore, it includes collaborating with the Hitachi family for resource sharing, technology alignment, and code management.

Engineering engages with several teams. We work closely with our product design and management teams on our long-term strategy. We align ourselves with support and services to continually improve our customer experience; and we involve the legal team for intellectual property management and compliance. Beyond coding, there are a million day-to-day tasks required to deliver an enterprise-level software product.

2.   Share with us how your team has evolved since you joined Pentaho

In 2013, there were forty developers, primarily based in Orlando. We didn’t have a formal process for software patches, and internal operations was a collective engineering effort, rather than a focused endeavor. Things have changed since then; we’ve built a great team across the globe and we’re all focused on delivering real value to customers. Currently, we have 170 developers worldwide. Besides Orlando, we have engineering team members in the greater Boston area, Lisbon, and partners in eastern Europe. Operations have been consolidated, we have three full release builds every night and our regular patch process pushes fixes to our enterprise customers monthly.

3.    What are some of the features in the latest release, Pentaho 7.1, that you are most proud of?

Rather than saying I’m proud of a specific feature, I’d say I’m proud of our close teamwork and the number of features we’ve added in a “minor” release. Pentaho is in a state of growth, and our teams thrive when challenged. Contributions from the Waltham, MA team are awesome, considering the office was only opened last year! In terms of features, we made over 400 improvements and fixes in the 7.1 release.

The biggest feature of our recent release is the Adaptive Execution Layer for PDI. It includes the ability to natively run transformations using Spark. Usability upgrades to our data exploration experience have added value during the data preparation step.

In addition, we have improved our cloud strategy, specifically in areas like HD Insight support on Microsoft Azure. Our upgrade process has become more seamless and now people can easily drop 7.1 on top of an existing 7.0 implementation.

4.    What sets Pentaho apart from other tools in the market?

The combination of breadth and depth of our stack are probably the biggest differentiators. There are competitors who have solutions that are only comparable to aspects of Pentaho. We provide one of the most comprehensive solutions in the marketplace, which is a key value add for our big data customers. Our other key differentiator is our open core model, as it requires transparency in our development process. Pentaho is proudly a leader in various open source areas and this enables us to deliver a better product while providing us with critical viewpoints on technology adoption and changes in the landscape.

5.    What’s next for Pentaho in terms of IoT and the integration with Hitachi’s IoT platform, Lumada?

While Lumada is the overarching umbrella for Hitachi’s IoT strategy, we continue to be a leader in the IoT industry, which is a key reason why Hitachi purchased us. I don’t want to give too much away here but we’re working with the entire Hitachi organization to improve our IoT data capabilities. Join us at Hitachi NEXT 2017 and PentahoWorld 2017 to learn more!

6.    How can customer provide product feedback?

We build our products for our customers. We love to hear how they’re using them, what they’re doing, and areas where we can make their lives easier! So with that, there are a number of ways you can provide feedback. One method is through our support system; we work closely with support and have regular meetings to share customer feedback. Another avenue is our community forums, customer advisory board meetings and customer surveys. Finally, PentahoWorld is a great way to engage face-to-face with our development team. 


Jonathan Shafer

Senior Product Customer Marketing Manager