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  • Writer's pictureHa Hoang

Business Intelligence with Metabase

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

Metabase is a popular open-source business intelligence (BI) tool that anyone can quickly install to set up a basic BI system in their local environment. Metabase is targeted as a self-service BI platform for business users without IT, Database, or technical skill sets. In this article, we cover an overview to help you do business intelligence with Metabase.

Table of content


1. What is Metabase?

Metabase is an open-source, web-based business intelligence tool that lets you analyze data from various destinations and sources. It also follows a simple and fast setup process to provide clear business information straight from the database. Its data visualization capabilities are exceptional and can be showcased in a user-friendly way - without using SQL. With Metabase, you can easily share live dashboards, automated reports, and questions with the rest of your team.

2. Why Metabase?

  • Metabase is an easy-to-use BI tool that allows users to ask questions about the data and display the answers in various graphs to easily read and process information.

  • Users can explore data, drill down into charts, reports and graphs, apply filters and uncover key insights to make robust data-driven decisions.

  • Metabase helps build and deliver reports to customers faster with embedded reporting capabilities that facilitate quick development and iteration cycles.

  • Insights can be shared with other team members to facilitate collaboration.


3. Highlight Features

Metabase is an all-in-one platform with many features that will solve your business intelligence and analytics needs. Some of the features include:

  • Collecting data from multiple data sources: MySQL, Postgres, Mongo, SQL Server, AWS Redshift, Google BigQuery, Druid, H2, SQLite, Oracle, Crate, Google Analytics.

  • Offering an extensive array of graphical data visualisations for precise, understandable reports: With a strong focus on UI and UX, Metabase excels at presenting data and changes in a clear and immediately understandable style.

  • Syncing data: Metabase automatically updates from the data source on an hourly basis, but you can also manually adjust the sync time. Dashboards can also be set to update at specified intervals.

  • Supporting SQL Mode for writing simple and complex queries using the query editor.

  • Receiving periodic alerts via email or Slack for dashboards or queries via Dashboard subscriptions: Metabase will automatically create reports about data changes in your database with alerts.

  • Sharing dashboard or queries by link: Your Metabase must be hosted on a server, and recipients must have Metabase accounts to co-create, use and organize visual collections and data sets.

  • Set constraints and permissions on certain tables for different users to protect data.


4. Pricing

The pricing for Metabase starts at $85 per month. Metabase has 3 different plans:

  • Startup (Metabase Cloud) at $85 per month.

  • Business (Metabase Cloud) at $500 per month.

  • Enterprise (Metabase Cloud) starts at $15K per year.

Metabase also offers a free open-source plan free trials and with limited features. Learn more about Metabase pricing.


5. Limitations

Metabase has some drawbacks that could make or break a specific use case:

  • Quite advanced deployment of the self-hosted open-source version

  • Lacks dedicated customer support

  • Slow data rendering if multiple users access it simultaneously

  • Lacks advanced dashboarding capabilities

  • Cannot combine data sources in a query

  • Limited and scope data governance

  • Limited granularity and ad-hoc options


6. Conclusion

I hope this article can help you make a decision when choosing to use Metabase for your business intelligence needs. If you’re a small or medium size business and are searching for an open-source business intelligence tool, Metabase is an ideal option. It’s actively developed, and new features are released every few months.


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Alternatives

Although Metabase is an effective business intelligence tool, numerous other tools support data collection and analysis for businesses. Depending on your needs, you might be able to pick the right option to replace or use alongside Metabase.


Data Insider Rocket.BI: Rocket.BI is a good alternative to Metabase as it is also an open-source business intelligence solution of Data Insider specifically designed for analytical databases. However, it offers a better comprehensive self-service capability and performs advanced data analysis, ad hoc, and more. See us introducing Rocket.BI


Apache Superset is an open-source software application for data exploration and data visualization that is able to handle data at petabyte scale. Here is an article introducing Apache Superset


Looker is a business intelligence software and big data analytics platform that helps you easily explore, analyze, and share real-time business analytics. Discover more about Looker here


Here is a summary comparison table between Metabase and other alternatives:

Metabase

Rocket.BI

Superset

Looker

Data Visualization

Lacks advanced dashboarding capabilities

Fully customizable informative reports

Extensive dashboard exploration

Interactive visualization capabilities

Data Integration

Multiple data sources

Highly diverse data sources with no-code ETL

NoSQL data sources are not supported

Multiple data sources and deployment methods

Drag-and-drop Interface

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

User Access Control

Users and groups

Role and Contribution

Admin and Gamma users

Users and groups

Working with CSV/Google Sheets

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Advanced Analytics Function

No

Yes

No

No

Join tables from different databases

No

Yes

No

Yes

Dynamic Metric Control

No

Yes

No

No

Pricing

From $17/user/month with a free self-hosted open-source option

From $9/user/month with unlimited free trials

From $20/user/month with a free open-source option

Customized pricing around $300-$500/user/month


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