CERN Turns to Pentaho to Optimize Operations


  • CERN needed a compliant, secure unified business analytics and reporting platform and data warehouse to provide a 360-degree view of its data.


  • Pentaho Data Integration and Pentaho Business Analytics provide end-to-end integration, analytics and access control, and a real-time data warehouse.


  • Enables researchers to access and use advanced analytics.
  • Automates ETL to create a near real-time data warehouse.
  • Improves query and execution performance.
  • Provides granular access control with custom data access layer for analysis.

CERN, Europe’s nuclear research organization, has 15,000+ scientists and other users accessing data.

The Challenge : : Replace Outgrown Systems with a Unified Data, Analytics Platform

CERN’s Advanced Information Services (AIS) group is responsible for delivering integrated and reliable corporate information systems to the entire organization. The AIS group sought to replace its existing installation of commercial and home-grown systems serving more than 650,000 report executions per year with a unified Business Analytics, reporting platform and data warehouse to provide a single, 360-degree view of its operational data to the CERN community of more than 15,000 users.

As an international non-governmental organization, CERN has unique challenges facing its corporate information systems. Not only fulfilling the roles of an employer of around 2,500 staff, but also a university (hosting hundreds of students, and thousands of visiting scientists every year), as well a “state”, providing its staff and their families with the social cover (pension, health insurance, etc.). As such, the data CERN holds on its employees is subject to rigorous data protection and compliance regulations. The individual’s role in the CERN community – full-time scientist or engineer, short-term trainee or fellow, security guard or fireman, etc. – subjects their data to unique security and access privileges.

CERN’s operational systems support a vast range of decision making – from providing employee access to the largest and most complex particle accelerators in the world to more routine matters like allocating budget to projects.

After a $150 million upgrade CERN restarted its main accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), in June, therefore it’s vital that administrative processes do not interrupt the ground-breaking research ongoing at the laboratory. Systems need to be fast, simple and embedded into familiar processes and applications.

The Solution : Pentaho Data Integration and Pentaho Business Analytics

CERN selected Pentaho Business Analytics and Pentaho Data Integration platform to replace several heterogeneous systems and provide a single, 360-degree view of all its native operational data.

CERN’s five developer team, following initial learning and the collaboration with the Pentaho partner Ancud IT from Germany, developed an innovative approach to guaranteeing consistent access rights across application boundaries including data exposed through Pentaho. Access rights are calculated using a rules engine taking into consideration business needs and legal requirements. In Pentaho, those rights are enforced by extending Pentaho’s analysis engine (Mondrian).

Pentaho Data Integration enabled CERN to migrate from a manually-intensive ETL environment to an automated one, decoupled from proprietary data.

CERN is embedding reporting and analytics via Pentaho’s web service API to enable 15,000+ users to access these services through their normal day-to-day applications.

The Outcome : Pentaho Solution Improves Speed, Security, and Usability

CERN currently runs Pentaho in a production environment and will be fully operational as a single platform for AIS, replacing the majority of its legacy systems.

CERN has rolled out a series of test reports to end users. Their enthusiastic feedback has already shown that they are easier to use and run faster than the previous BI solution.

CERN’s security implementation with Pentaho is complete and currently being tested internally. CERN’s goal is to deliver a new common data warehouse that will be the main source for all corporate data.

The development team is excited and proud to be working on a mission-critical project, using modern technologies.

The Pentaho solution gave the skilled AIS developer team control over the platform to customize it for CERN’s complex security and data protection requirements, including the rule-based secure access levels.