Web Analytics Software Review
Website analytics reporting software can be on-premises or hosted/SaaS. This article compares the best on-premises solutions, and differentiates between Commercial and Open Source products.
On-premises web analytics software keeps your data within your environment, which provides full data security and avoids many of the regulations imposed on SaaS solutions.
Should You Use Commercial or Open Source?
There are a few things to consider when evaluating an on-premises web analytics reporting tool, since there are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Generally speaking, Open Source solutions make sense when cost is the primary concern (e.g. individuals with basic websites & small/micro businesses). Commercial solutions are a better choice for established businesses that require a guaranteed level of performance and service.
This is the primary drawback of Commercial web analytics software: it's not free. Prices start around $1,000 and increase as you add features and scale.
Commercial web analytics products typically offer better support options. Software vendors understand that if a potential customer can't get the product to work, the customer won't buy the product.
Every product has security concerns, and there isn't a clear answer for the "which is more secure, Commercial code or Open Source code?" question. However, security means more than just code: Commercial software generally has defined product leadership, follows a development standard, has limited distribution channels, is protected by a security infrastructure, and has a more comprehensive legal agreement.
Open Source software is free to use, but there's more to the story. It's important to consider the legal restrictions as well as the cost of implementation.
Support for Open Source products is usually self-service, limited to discussion forums and product manuals. Some Open Source products have 3rd party companies that offer support for a fee.
We'll say it again: every product has security concerns, and there isn't a clear answer for the "which is more secure, Commercial code or Open Source code?" question. Proponents of Open Source software say it's more secure than Commercial because it's subject to more scrutiny - anyone can contribute to the source code. That said, the "anyone can contribute" development model of Open Source software should be considered in your selection process.
Commercial Web Analytics Software (in alphabetical order)
Overview: Angelfish provides details that aren’t shown in Google Analytics and is ideal for any internal / external website or web-based application, like SharePoint, Blackboard, Oracle, and more.
Technical Requirements: Windows/Linux (64-bit), 4 CPU cores, 4+ GB RAM, storage needs 5% of raw log file size
Cost: Starts at $1,295/year
Comments: Launched in 2013, processes Google Analytics tracking data, uses a self-contained database, highly flexible.
Overview: NetInsight is a web analytics application that utilizes an ETL method to populate a database that can be viewed with a web browser.
Key Features: Click Maps, Funnel visualization, robots/spiders, API
Technical Requirements: Windows/Linux/Solaris, DB2 / Oracle / SQL Server, 2 CPU cores, 2 GB RAM, 8 GB disk
Cost: [edited March 2015] see comments
Comments: IBM no longer sells NetInsight.
Overview: Universal log analysis software that runs on every major platform and can process almost any type of log data.
Key Features: Easy To Use, Extensive Documentation, Database Driven, Highly Configurable
Technical Requirements: Linux/Windows/Solaris/MacOS/FreeBSD, 2+ CPU cores, 4GB+ RAM, storage needs 200% - 400% of raw log file size
Cost: starts at $500/year
Comments: Sawmill is more of a log analysis tool than a web analytics tool, massive storage requirements, first released in 1997.
Overview: WebTrends provides web, social, mobile, and other analytics solutions for digital marketers.
Key Features: Multi-channel analysis, Dashboards, Events, Social Measurement
Technical Requirements: Windows, SQL Server, 4 CPU cores, 6 GB RAM, storage needs 1 GB for every million pageviews (approx)
Cost: [edited March 2015] see comments
Comments: WebTrends was the first major player in the web analytics space, but no longer sells an On-Premises version and has not announced plans to release one.
Open Source Options (in alphabetical order)
Overview: AWStats is a free, powerful, and featureful tool that generates advanced web, streaming, ftp or mail server statistics, graphically.
Key Features: visits, pageviews, geo info, browsers & platforms, robots
Technical Requirements: Linux, Perl, hardware specs are unspecified
Overview: Open Web Analytics (OWA) is used to track and analyze how people use your websites and applications.
Key Features: E-commerce, Funnels, Custom Events, Mouse Movements & Click Tracking, API
Technical Requirements: Windows/UNIX, mySQL 4.1+, hardware specs are unspecified
Comments: OWA has visual similarities with Google Analytics but misses some features, like filters and exporting options.
Overview: Web analytics platform that gives you valuable insights into your website’s visitors, your marketing campaigns and much more.
Key Features: Dashboards, Mobile App, E-commerce, API, Real Time Reports, Multiple CMS Integrations
Technical Requirements: Webserver (apache, IIS, etc), PHP 5.3.3, MySQL 4.1+, hardware specs are unspecified
Comments: Popular open source analytics platform, on-premises version requires extensive tuning for large environments. Lots of SaaS Piwik providers.
We prefer analytics products that possess the following traits:
- Great Reports & Features
- Fast Performance
- Actively Developed & Supported
- Low Administration Requirement
- Accomodates Non-Technical Users
Ultimately, the right web analytics product depends on the needs of your environment. That said, here are our choices:
Commercial Recommendation: Angelfish Software
Angelfish installs easily, the reports look great and load quickly, it works with SharePoint, and we love the details it provides. This would be a more difficult choice if WebTrends On-Premises and NetInsight were still available, but it doesn't diminish the fact that Angelfish is an impressive web analytics software product.
Open Source Recommendation: Open Web Analytics
This was a tough decision. We like Piwik - it has more features, a larger user base, and a broad support/consulting network. But Piwik is difficult for non-technical users to implement, and we've heard too many stories about it requiring ongoing attention from a mySQL DBA, especially with high traffic sites. Open Web Analytics doesn't have as many features or users as Piwik, but it works well enough and we like the clean, familiar interface.
Thanks for reading!