Choosing the right ETL software for your organization can seem a daunting prospect. The task is difficult, labor intensive and it is hard to find a good starting point. To support you, we have defined a step by step ETL tool selection strategy, based on our more than ten years of involvement in tool selection processes.
In our experience, gathering all the vendor characteristics necessary to make a balanced judgment is one of the most time consuming elements in any vendor selection. To speed this up we have carried out an extensive and detailed ETL tools & Data Integration Survey 2015. Since 2004 this survey has helped numerous organizations find the right ETL tool for them. These are the insights the survey will provide you.
1. Create a data integration strategy
Choosing and selecting an ETL tool is a process that begins with defining a data integration strategy, compliant with the overall Business Intelligence strategy and requirements. It should be clear which business initiatives will be supported, which business processes are supported, where data should be moved from and to (both internal and external systems) and what the underlying infrastructure will be. Without a proper integration strategy, buying an ETL tool would be like buying a luxurious and expensive car online, without taking into consideration whether it should be a left-hand or right-hand drive.
2. Define criteria in business terms
Once the strategy is clear, you can define the business critical selection criteria, like ‘Our analysts want to keep track of history’. In that case you need an ETL Tool that has standard support for slowly changing dimensions out-of-the-box. Another example: a business initiative can be that there is a customer contact center. The staff of the contact center needs to see all the customer data that the company registers in a wide variety of source systems, residing on different platforms. You need an ETL tool that performs well in a heterogeneous environment, on different platforms, and is able to connect natively to many different types of database. Making a clear connection between the business strategy and selection criteria is an essential factor for success.
3. Create a short-list
Once you have all the criteria in place, the information in the ETL tools comparison will allow you to decide which tools match your criteria. From there, you can move quickly to a short-list of two or three different products.
4. Invite vendors for a live demonstration
In this phase of the ETL selection process, you will invite the vendors on the short-list for a live demonstration of their solution. We recommend that you prepare this meeting in detail with the vendors, to avoid SlideWare demonstrations in PowerPoint. If possible, provide the vendors with some real life (masked) company data, so you can easily see the relevance of what is demonstrated and judge how well it functions.
5. Perform a proof-of-concept (PoC)
Doing a proof-of-concept (PoC) is essential for choosing an ETL tool that suits your organization. It is imperative to test the solution in your own IT environment, and get an idea of the functionality, connectivity, usability and performance of each ETL tool. Define a number of use cases beforehand, what the results should be and what data should be used. Make sure that the data in your source systems is accessible. In general, a proof-of-concept can be done in three to five days. To keep negotiation options open, it is recommended that a PoC is performed with at least two vendors.
6. Negotiate with vendors
7. Close the deal
Finally, you want to close the deal with the vendor that has the best support for your data integration strategy, against the lowest costs.