Data integration solutions combine data from numerous different sources in order to deliver integrated information that can be used to obtain actionable insights. While numerous enterprises across verticals are adopting data integration software to fulfill their digital needs, choosing this software is not always easy—especially if the needs of the organization are complicated. A wide range of vendors exist in the data integration space, and not all of them provide solutions that suit the needs of every client. This blog has been written to help business users make the correct decision by asking the right questions before choosing a data integration solution.
What is the data integration software going to be used for?
This question comes with two follow-up questions:
- What will data integration help the user achieve?
- Is there a business need present for data integration?
Data integration software like Informatica PowerCenter has numerous applications, including for one-time projects like data migration, ongoing data operations such as automation, and the transfer of data jobs to non-developers. Vendors offer different features and unique benefits, pricing, service models, and support packages. Deciding on what it wants the result of a successful data integration deployment to look like will help the buying company enormously.
Where is the data located?
Where the data sits greatly influences the features that the integration software needs. Users need to consider the type, number, and nature of the data sources that they are looking to connect. Companies that are working with a single large database will have different requirements than those looking to unify multiple data sources globally. Moving data from in-house storage to the cloud has a different set of requirements as well, which are fulfilled by solutions from companies like IBM. The right solution will ensure that the security, agility, and control of the enterprise over its data does not diminish over the years.
What future data needs does the company have?
Companies need to evaluate potential data integration solutions based on how they meet their needs today. At the same time, these companies should also think about how their data needs are going to change in the future. Flexibility in data needs and business processes is critical, and it is important to ensure that potential solutions are able to scale with the business and provide support for greater complexity as and when needed. Follow-up questions to consider include:
- Will the volume of data to be processed grow or fall, and will the number of data sources being a connected increase or decrease?
- Will there be a use case for faster data processing after a few years?
- Are plans afoot to create a data lake or a data warehouse?
Companies like Microsoft provide advanced long-term data integration solutions.
Who will use the data integration software?
Whether the software is going to be used by business teams or IT teams greatly affects the type of service and solution to be chosen. Different solutions demand different levels of self-service and resources for in-house management. While non-IT teams might be interested in data integration, they might not be technically capable of managing raw data.
Vendors with active online communities and detailed FAQs—such as Oracle—are always a safe bet, especially when non-IT employees are going to use the solution. However, the cost and availability of professional support should also be assessed. Finally, businesses should define their operational expectations from the solutions—which team is going to provide maintenance, and what access levels will they need within the system for smooth upkeep?
What budget does the company have for data integration?
A realistic budget for data integration software should account for license costs, the cost of consultants and developers, and the cost of maintenance, support, and product upgrades. Users must explore all pricing options and ensure that the licensing structure that they choose is well-suited to their business. Big-name vendors like SAP are often expensive but ensure all business needs are catered to, while cheaper vendors might not provide all the services that will be needed in the long run, so this choice needs to be made carefully.
To summarize, there often is no simple answer for businesses looking for the perfect data integration solution. Every enterprise has a unique use case for data integration, and data across industries differ in terms of storage, quality, quantity, format, and other factors. By carefully analyzing the needs and goals of the organization in relation to data integration, business users can choose the right solution as per their budget.