November is getting closer and so is the Digital Workplace Summit by Communardo. Therefore we would like to introduce our gold partner eazyBI.
For those who don't know, What is eazyBI?
eazyBI is a powerful reporting and visualization add-on for JIRA Server and JIRA Cloud. It makes complex reporting with multiple calculated and combined values finally possible from within JIRA. With eazyBI you can import, visualize, and analyze data from JIRA Software, JIRA Service Desk, Tempo Timesheets, Zephyr and other popular add-ons.
When was eazyBI founded?
It was five years ago, back in 2011. I started this company and built the initial version of eazyBI all by myself. The ideas was to make business intelligence (BI) for small and medium businesses affordable and easy-to-use.
What was wrong with existing BI systems?
Not so long ago BI systems had to be built around data sources and data warehouses. Those solutions were often very expensive, very complex, and usually required a team of developers to set them up and implement. A special skill-set was required to prepare usable reports and dashboards for the company.
Small and medium business owners were left with slow and inefficient database solutions, spreadsheets, and static charts.
How did you decide to create a plugin for JIRA?
Actually eazyBI did not start as a plugin for JIRA. It was built as a multi-purpose BI tool that can import data from many data sources: SQL databases, REST API, CSV and Excel files, and many popular web applications like JIRA, Basecamp, Highrise, FreshBooks, Harvest, Zendesk.
I have been using JIRA in various software development projects since 2005. As a CTO in a large IT services company, I needed regular JIRA project and issue status reports. Back then I used various reporting and BI tools to build these reports myself, but JIRA versions kept changing. The initial setup and maintenance of those reporting tools became very complex, time consuming, and error-prone.
Many JIRA users spend hours to download issues from JIRA, create complex reports in Excel, and then paste report screenshots in PowerPoint or publish online. One of our customers told us that she used to spend a full day every month to prepare JIRA reports in Excel.
There was a real need for a standardized JIRA reporting and BI solution. The integration with Atlassian JIRA was a natural and logical choice.
How did the integration go?
eazyBI was initially implemented as a hosted SaaS (Software as a Service) solution on eazybi.com, supporting REST API data import from JIRA. It quickly got noticed, but JIRA Server users wanted to install and use eazyBI on their own servers, so we had to package eazyBI as an add-on.
Because eazyBI was not intended as a JIRA add-on, it was built using "Ruby on Rails”. JIRA, on the other hand, is built using Java, making both systems very difficult to combine. Finally I found a way to package eazyBI as a JIRA Java plugin using JRuby which is a Ruby implementation on Java Virtual Machine.
The initial packaging of eazyBI as a JIRA plugin was a very difficult challenge. But by the end of 2012, eazyBI was finally packaged and released as a JIRA plugin on Atlassian Marketplace. Now we reap the benefits of having one single eazyBI source code base. We can deploy eazyBI as a cloud hosted service, an installable JIRA plugin, or as a standalone Private eazyBI solution. This gives eazyBI a flexibility that reaches way beyond Atlassian ecosystem.
Was it worth it?
Yes, definitely! Atlassian turned out to be a very successful channel for us. eazyBI became one of the Top 10 third party JIRA plugins in only six months.
In 2013, when Atlassian released the Atlassian Connect framework for JIRA Cloud, eazyBI became the first Atlassian Connect add-on on Atlassian Marketplace because we already had our own SaaS platform.
In 2014 eazyBI was awarded as the Top Grossing Atlassian Connect Add-on.
You mentioned other eazyBI tools beside JIRA Add-ons
Yes, eazyBI is available not only as an Add-on for JIRA Cloud and JIRA Server, but also as an eazyBI Cloud and eazyBI Private Server, supporting additional data import sources like Basecamp, Highrise, Zendesk, Harvest, FreshBooks, CSV and Excel files, Google Sheets, REST API, SQL, and others.
The Private eazyBI Server also supports custom integrations with other web applications and data warehouses. Many customers have embedded eazyBI as a reporting and dashboarding tool for their in-house custom built systems. One of our partners has built a new eazyBI based product flex.bi – a customized reporting and dashboarding solution for HansaWorld business management system.
What are the main benefits of using eazyBI?
eazyBI helps creating custom ad-hoc reports and charts from JIRA data more easily. Customers can create simple common JIRA reports themselves. At the same time, if there are more complex needs, eazyBI also provides many advanced settings, calculations, and extension points to satisfy most demanding users.
It is possible to perform a real time analysis and data discovery by drilling through the details of eazyBI reports and charts. You can’t do that in static PowerPoint slides or Excel charts.
With eazyBI companies can fully automate collection and publishing of main KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). This can save hundreds of work hours a year by adding live data reporting, visualization, and analysis tools right inside JIRA dashboards and Confluence pages. Some eazyBI users even display eazyBI dashboards on large monitors in their offices to keep everyone up-to-date with project statuses and main business KPIs.
Many eazyBI users don’t know that they can use eazyBI for other data analysis needs as well. JIRA customers typically discover eazyBI as a JIRA reporting tool, but eazyBI supports other data sources as well. In the eazyBI for JIRA add-on, customers can import data from any REST API or SQL database source and combine that data with JIRA data.
Because eazyBI was not intended as a JIRA add-on, our technology stack is different. This gives eazyBI certain advantages, including security, stability, speed of development, cross-platform infrastructure and compatibility with different systems and applications. There are only few plugin developers who are using Ruby and Ruby-on-Rails in their add-on development.
Are you still building eazyBI alone?
No, not anymore. I hired our first developer about one year after launching eazyBI. Now there are ten of us in the team. We are all working remotely from 6 different cities and towns in Latvia, we don't have an office. To communicate efficiently we use chat, screen sharing, weekly remote meetings, and all-team on-site meetings about once per month.
A few times a year we all travel together to conferences and events. Whenever possible, we rent large apartments and stay together. This way we get to know each other better, making these business trips as great team-building events as well.