Buyers of data integration tools need to be aware of a key fact: this software category addresses a broad array of tasks that span different industries, data types and formats. As you select a data integration tool, makes sure to find out: is it well suited for my businesses data type, industry and/or format?
Businesses know that data is the new currency. Yet, transforming vast amounts of structured and unstructured data into information, knowledge and actionable insight can prove daunting – this key task in Big Data is far from easy. Data integration tools address this challenge – if you select the best one for your business.
These data integration tools parse through heterogenous data and extract what’s relevant. They are critical because as data sources expand (data volumes now double about every two years) the need for powerful data integration tools grows. Not surprisingly, multiple vendors and software platforms are available.
Our methodology for choosing the following data integration tools relied heavily on the established reputation in the industry. The following vendors are those well known to have advanced, well maintained offerings, backed by a solid legacy name. Here’s a look at 10 of the best data integration tools:
- Astera Centerprise Data Integrator
- Dell Boomi
- IBM Infosphere
- Informatica PowerCenter
- Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services
- Oracle Data Integrator
- SAP Data Services
- Talend Open Studio
This Windows-based platform delivers an on-premises solution that addresses data integration, data transformation, data quality, and data profiling and mapping. It is highly extensible and scalable, provides a straightforward and easy-to-use interface, and it accommodates numerous data formats and multiple development languages. Among the other software platforms and data integration tools it supports: Microsoft SQL Server, SAP Adaptive Server Enterprise, Teradata, Salesforce.com, Oracle and Netezza.
There’s a growing need to connect applications and data across legacy systems and clouds. Boomi aims to tackle this challenge through a low code graphical interface with pre-built connectors and APIs. This lets users integrate data repositories from multiple vendors, including Netsuite, Salesforce, GoogleSheets and Oracle E-Business Suite. Boomi handles master data management, data integration and data quality services (DQS) within a single interface.
Flexibility is the center of digital transformation. Denodo’s approach to data integration revolves around data virtualization. Its uses a robust collection of APIs to connect legacy systems, cloud repositories and other data sources. Denodo generates global metadata that allows any user or application to discover, search and browse data. It incorporates strong data governance and security features.
IBM offers a set of data integration tools that are powerful and flexible. As a result, Infosphere is ideal for tackling large and complex data initiatives. The platform deftly handles metadata and it delivers a high level of cross-industry integration. The ETL capabilities allow users to connect to virtually any source, including unstructured data.
Among data integration tools, PowerCenter is a standout for its strong automation capabilities. It offers robust mapping, input, transformation and output functions through a metadata driven approach. The platform supports multiple DBMS technologies, including Oracle and Netezza. It can handle large batches of data smooth and it provides strong integration with business rules.
The strength of SSIS lies in its powerful and easy-to-use ETL capabilities, including deploying solutions without writing code. SSIS is highly flexible and extensible--and it integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft products that use SQL along with outside sources like Oracle and IBM DB2. An added bonus is that the data integration software supports plug-ins and share-ware. This greatly enhances its functionality.
See our in-depth look at Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services
See Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services user reviews
Java-based ODI offers a highly flexible platform that is particularly valuable for enterprise big data initiatives. ODI can connect to virtually any data source and accommodate almost every data format. It offers an extensive array of features, a high level of customization, and users report that it’s relatively easy to use. All of this makes it a popular choice for data integration software.
Among data integration tools, SAP data services receives high marks for flexibility and integration with both SAP and non-SAP applications. It can accommodate data sources as diverse as spreadsheets and Hadoop cloud services. Smart dashboards and other tools provide broad and deep visibility into data and events. SAP uses the Tableau software platform to deliver fast analytics and visualizations.
The software analytics vendor offers robust data integration tools that accommodate a wide array of data types and formats. SAS is particularly strong in transformation functions and metadata integration. It also offers strong workflow visualizations, flexible query language support and important optimization features, including accessing native capabilities and features from the underlying data source. Users also give SAS high marks for its support and training.
This software platform (which comes in a basic free version and a more feature laden commercial version) offers robust design and productivity tools, including strong support for an SOA architecture and Hadoop in integration. It has built-in widgets and objects that simplify many processes. The GUI is straightforward, and users generally report that it’s relatively easy to use. Open Studio supports a wide variety of functions without scripting, and it has built in connectivity to more than 450 software tools and applications, including Dropbox and Box. It runs on Windows, Linux and OS X. See the Talend Data Platform updates.
|Provider||Key Features||Possible Drawbacks|
|Astera Centerprise Data Integrator||Excellent data connection and transformation features. Excels in data governance.||Some users complain about performance and speed, as well as debugging capabilities.|
|IBM Infosphere||Powerful ETL, parallel processing and a single view of information. Strong metadata features, and strong integration with unstructured data formats.||Lags behind others in regard to leading-edge features and Hadoop/Spark processing.|
|Dell Boomi||Low code. User friendly GUI. Robust set of pre-built connectors that speeds development and integration processes.||Logging and debugging can be difficult. The standard interface may not handle all functionality required, thus necessitating the use of scripts.|
|Denodo||Powerful but easy to use data integration capabilities with real-time visibility. High level of flexibility, including the ability to access data sources on the fly. Designed to bridge Hadoop, NoSQL and other open source big data solutions.||Despite the powerful capabilities built into this platform, some users complain that it does not offer the richness and power of other solutions.|
|Informatica PowerCenter||Highly flexible; supports virtually all sources and data formats. Development is straightforward, and users report it’s easy to learn and use. The platform offers strong integration with business rules along with powerful filters.||Programming must take place through the GUI. Lacks support for backend scripts. Some users say the platform suffers from high memory utilization.|
|Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)||Strong integration with SQL and excellent support for other tools and data formats. Visual programming simplifies configuration as well as the development of custom tools.||Debugging can be difficult for certain functions. Can be resource intensive.|
|Oracle Data Integrator (ODI)||Powerful and flexible ELT capabilities designed for high volume big data environments. Interoperability with numerous data sources, including Apache, Kafka and Cassandra.||Can be resource intensive and navigation and error handling can be difficult.|
|SAS/Access||Excellent support for native data formats, flexible query language support and strong metadata integration.||Coding can be complex and time consuming. Some users say administration functions could be easier.|
|SAP Data Services||Offers a high level of flexibility and versatility, including cloud connectivity. Strong dashboard support.||Interface and functionality can be difficult to master and use.|
|Talend Open Studio||Robust design and productivity tools, including ETL and ELT support. Strong functionality without scripting. Delivers quick builds and testing. Offers a free open source Apache license as well as more robust commercial product.||Software can be slow and sometimes crash in particularly large implementations.|