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KNIME Open Source Story

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How it all began

In early 2004 at the University of Konstanz in South Germany, a team of developers from a Silicon Valley software company specializing in pharmaceutical applications started working on a new open source platform as a collaboration and research tool. It was clear from day one that the platform would have to work with huge amounts of diverse data. The original team - Michael, Peter, Thomas, and Bernd - applied modern software engineering standards and created a robust, modular, and highly scalable platform encompassing various data loading, transformation, analysis, and visual exploration modules.

The first version of KNIME Analytics Platform was released in July of 2006 and was quickly adopted by several pharmaceutical companies and the open source community as well as other software vendors soon started building KNIME-based solutions. Soon afterwards, the KNIME team began organizing annual user group meetings - now known as the KNIME Summits - to connect the community.

Today, KNIME users can be found in many departments in large-scale enterprises across a wide range of industries including life sciences, financial services, publishers, retailers and e-tailers, manufacturing, consulting firms, government, and research, and more – in over 60 countries.

KNIME and Openness

At KNIME, we firmly believe in openness and the power of the community. Our philosophy is to maintain and develop an open source platform that contains all the functionality any individual might require and to continue adding functionality through both our own work and that of the community.

KNIME Analytics Platform - Open Source

Unlike other open source products, KNIME Analytics Platform is not a cut-down version and there are no artificial limitations on execution environment or data size: If you have enough local or cloud based space and compute power, you can run projects with billions of rows, as many KNIME users currently do.

KNIME is written in Java and based on Eclipse, the open source multi-language software development environment comprising an integrated development environment (IDE) and an extensible plug-in system. KNIME Analytics Platform is released under an Open Source GPLv3 license with an exception that allows others to use the well-defined node API to add proprietary extensions. This permits commercial software vendors to add wrappers so that their tools can be executed from within KNIME.

The KNIME Community

Open platforms make it easy to share and collectively develop and integrate new tools. The KNIME user community contributes continuously by adding new integrations but also by just helping each other on the KNIME Forum and sharing ready to use workflows and components on the KNIME Community Hub. Without this and being able to integrate lots of new developments from other open source projects, KNIME Analytics Platform wouldn’t be what it is today.

Open for Innovation: The Case for Openness

There’s a general agreement that opening up previously closed or exclusive platforms, processes, tools, organizational boundaries, idea sourcing or funding can speed up innovation. At KNIME, we know that there is something inherently advantageous in the way open platforms and their communities are designed that accelerates data-driven innovation.

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KNIME Business Hub – Our Commercial Product

KNIME Analytics Platform is complemented by KNIME Business Hub, the commercial offering for enterprises. You will never be required to license KNIME Business Hub; everything can be handled by KNIME Analytics Platform. That said, many individuals and organizations can leverage their KNIME usage even further with KNIME Business Hub and the additional functionality that comes with it.

KNIME Business Hub is purchased, based on an annual license fee. Part of that fee goes towards continuing development of the open source work. We feel this arrangement keeps us honest: We need to keep delivering you software that brings you value so that you provide us with the income we depend on. We are a software company, not a consultancy, and over 90% of our revenue comes from software licenses. We intend to keep it that way.

The KNIME Partner Network

That is why our partner network is so important. From time to time organizations also require consultancy services, and our qualified partner network ensures that KNIME resources are available - another aspect of “community” that is important to us.

We do make the occasional exception: If a customer urgently requires a KNIME feature or functionality that is not currently on our priority list, we allow companies to sponsor getting that functionality into the product as soon as possible. Generally, we then make this new functionality available on the open source platform so that ALL organizations can take advantage of it.