There are over 300 SaaS applications that help you automate your data operations. In this crowd of potential solutions, how do you narrow it down to the winning horse?
Here we compare three top contenders for your data operations: from data ingestion, via ETL to full data management, we compare side-by-side Fivetran, Stitch, and Keboola to shed light on their respective strengths and weaknesses.
Fivetran, Stitch, and Keboola are all cloud-based data platforms. They are built around the idea that software can help you automate your data processes at scale. Thus saving your engineers, scientists, and analysts time for more revenue-generating work.
But the three contenders have very different ranges of capabilities:
Data integration is the process in which ETL tools extract raw data from a source, transform the data (e.g., clean it, remove duplicates, etc.), and load it into a target destination, such as a data warehouse (Amazon Redshift or Snowflake for instance).
The three SaaS platforms offer extensive automation in the extract and load departments. By building automatic connectors between sources and destinations, the SaaS platforms allow you to automate data collection and syncs along your data pipelines.
Sources can include a plethora of data generators:
Destinations are where your data will reside once extracted. For example:
All three platforms allow you to perform extract and load operations in a user-friendly manner. No need for technical knowledge, all you need is a couple of clicks in your browser to automatically connect your sources and destinations and start syncing data.
So how do the three providers differ?
Transformations refer to all the procedures needed to make your data valuable. For example, cleaning your data to exclude corrupted information, adjusting the data types to match source and destination data, removing duplicates, etc.
Both Stitch and Fivetran have been historically lacking in the transformation department, offering no or only post-load transformations.
The Fivetran team used to offer no transformation capabilities at all but has recently partnered with dbt to extend its SQL transformation abilities. It still only focuses on post-load transformations, and it is unclear how using dbt affects pricing.
Stitch data advertises itself as an ETL product but does not really do full data transformations. Instead, it offers the ELT tool paradigm, where you use Stitch to extract and load your data, and then rely on other software (such as Talend Data Fabric) for transformations.
Keboola on the other hand offers pre- and post-load data transformations. From premade components that do the transformation for you, to fully custom-written transformations in the programming language your engineers and scientists love best (SQL, Python, R, Julia, …).
When a transformation job runs, it takes the required data from your project Storage and copies them to a temporary staging storage where data manipulation is executed, then the newly cleaned data is written to the destination of your choice.
Because transformations are run like a job, you can schedule them and automate them, making data cleaning an integral and reliable part of your data operations workflow.
Good and clean data on its own is not enough to gain better insights. You also have to analyze it, visualize it, and sometimes productionalize it with machine learning, to extract the business value from your data assets.
For example, until you analyze historical user data you cannot discover which customers are likely to churn (and need to be contacted ASAP to avoid losing their business), and which ones you can upsell in the next quarter.
All three data platforms integrate with a variety of BI and AI applications, such as Looker, Google Analytics, Jupyter notebooks, etc.
Where Keboola truly shines, and what sets it apart from Fivetran and Stitch, is the ecosystem for analytics, data engineering, and data science built for data operatives. Keboola, unlike the competitors, does not just integrate with other data tools, but it also:
All three platforms offer state of the art security provisioning:
The only difference is the type of security offered for different plans:
All three data platforms offer varying methods of support: phone support, in-app chat support, training services (like the Keboola Data Academy), enterprise SLA, etc.
However, there seem to be differences in the quality of support. As can be seen from reviews and ratings of the three data products, users are not equally satisfied with all three platforms:
A lot of dissatisfaction stems from support complaints.
For example, looking at Fivetran’s customer feedback, it seems their delivery of timely and competent support is inconsistent across the customer base. While some clients praise Fivetran for their responsiveness, others complain about the technical support inefficiencies, delays, and lack of clear and prompt communication.
Another issue seems to be the necessary reliance on support for solving common problems. Multiple reviewers comment about their inability to debug issues themselves and having to wait on Fivetran’s technical support to solve connector issues on Fivetran’s end. This is probably because Fivetran does not have a transparent codebase, preventing users from looking at integration implementation.
On the other hand, both Keboola and Stitch are praised for their support (e.g. users have consistently rated Keboola’s customer service with 5/5, Stitch reports 94% of customers rate their support as “good” or “great”).
All three data platforms are transparent with their pricing (praise the world of SaaS which does not hide this information), but vary widely in how they price their products:
The ultimate choice of which data platform best serves your company’s needs depends on, well, your company’s needs.
In this article we compared side-by-side three of the main contenders for your ETL and data operations needs:
We know choosing the best data platform can be hard. We’ve been there ourselves. This is why we hate vendor lock-in and the limited resources you get before committing to a new tool.
This is why we created the always-free Keboola plan. So you can explore everything Keboola has to offer without any commitments. Feel free to give it a go or reach out to us if you have any questions.