Fivetran and Xplenty are cloud-based data integration platforms that pull data from different sources and push it into the most popular data warehouses and database systems. Both Fivetran and Xplenty feature visual, point-and-click interfaces and extensive selections of pre-built connectors. However, the differences between these platforms are significant.

Here are three of the most important areas of difference:

  • ELT vs. ETL: Fivetran is an ELT platform that performs data transformations after loading information into the destination. Xplenty is an ETL and ELT platform that performs data transformations either before or after loading. 
  • Consumption-based pricing vs. flat-rate pricing: Fivetran uses a consumption-based pricing model that charges by the volume of data consumption. Xplenty uses a flat-rate pricing model that charges per connection, so monthly expenses stay constant and predictable regardless of data volume.
  • Skill level requirement: While Fivetran is easy to use for extract/load operations, setting up data transformations will require SQL knowledge. Xplenty allows users without any coding skills to develop automated transformations, enabling the entire company (marketing, business analysts, and developers) to use the platform. Xplenty also offers a native scripting language and SQL editor for more nuanced transformation operations. 

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In this detailed comparison, we’ll examine these and other differences between Fivetran and Xplenty, so you can determine which integration platform is best for your needs – both now, but critically, in the future.

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Overview of Fivetran and Xplenty

We’ll start with a brief overview of Fivetran and Xplenty.

Fivetran

fivetran logo.png

Fivetran began in 2014 as a cloud-native data integration solution that provided extract/load capabilities for easy integrations between popular data sources and destinations. In mid-2019, Fivetran added data transformations tools, which elevated it from an “EL” only solution to a full-fledged ELT platform. Although Fivetran still cannot perform pre-load ETL transformations, it is still a capable and respected ELT solution.

As an “easy-to-use” ELT platform, Fivetran empowers users without much ETL experience to set up basic extract/load processes quickly and cost-effectively. However, to take advantage of Fivetran’s transformation capabilities, users need to have SQL coding skills. 

As we will discuss in further detail below, Fivetran uses a consumption-based pricing model. It also relies on the compute power of your destination data warehouses to perform data transformations. This makes Fivetran an excellent match for companies with low-volume data demands that want to develop simple, uncomplicated ELT pipelines. 

Xplenty

Xplenty logo.png

Xplenty launched in 2011 as a cloud-native ETL platform with an easy-to-use, no-code, point-and-click user interface. Xplenty’s ease-of-use eliminates the need for a skilled development team to set up advanced ETL processes. At the same time, the platform doesn’t sacrifice any of the power and capabilities of an enterprise-grade ETL solution. 

Xplenty’s wide range of pre-built connectors, two-way Salesforce-to-Salesforce integrations, drag-and-drop transformation tools, and flat-rate, per-connector pricing structure mean that it can satisfy your exact data integration requirements at an extremely competitive price-point. Unlike ETL platforms with similar capabilities, Xplenty doesn’t require the additional expenses of hiring a data engineer, paying for hosting, or the need to buy additional computing power.

While Fivetran was designed for firms with low-volume data requirements, Xplenty was built for enterprises that need to pipe massive volumes of data from numerous sources while performing complex, in-pipeline data transformations. Also, Xplenty was created to eliminate the extensive training requirements, barriers of entry, and auxiliary costs of comparable solutions – basically, so that anyone from the CEO’s executive assistant to a graphic designer on the marketing team can set up specialized ETL workflows. 

After this brief overview, let’s take a deep dive into the differences between Fivetran and Xplenty from the most important areas of comparison.

Pre-Built Connectors/Integrations

Fivetran and Xplenty offer similar ranges of pre-built connections. The difference is that when it comes to an uncommon source/destination, Xplenty’s support team is always available to help you establish the connection and design the necessary transformations.

Fivetran: 100+ Connectors

Fivetran offers 100+ ready-made integrations for virtually any source/destination. It also includes a “Function connector,” so developers can code custom data connectors. This is useful when you want to connect to a unique REST API that isn’t on Fivetran’s list of pre-built connectors.

Here’s a sample of Fivetran’s pre-built connectors:

Fivetranconnectors-min.gif

Xplenty: 100+ Connectors

Xplenty features 100+ pre-built connectors for the most popular sources and destinations – including all of the most popular data warehouse systems. The platform also offers a native REST API connector, so you can integrate data to and from uncommon sources/destinations. 

Here’s a sample of Xplenty’s pre-built connectors:

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If you’re struggling with an uncommon source/destination, Xplenty’s team of integration specialists is always available to help you design custom integrations with Xplenty’s REST API connector. In fact, the Xplenty team has access to a large database of previously-created custom connections that they can replicate if you need to connect with a similar source. 

Salesforce Integrations

Fivetran and Xplenty’s Salesforce connectors differ because Fivetran has a one-way salesforce connector, and Xplenty features two-way, Salesforce-to-Salesforce integrations.  

Fivetran: One-Way Salesforce Connector

One of Fivetran’s most celebrated connectors is its native Salesforce integration. This easy-to-set-up integration efficiently extracts data from your Salesforce account and loads it into your data warehouse for analysis. Like most easy-to-use ELT platforms, Fivetran’s Salesforce integration is “one-way,” so it does not allow you to transform Salesforce data in-pipeline and load it back into Salesforce. 

Xplenty: Two-Way Salesforce-to-Salesforce Connector

One of Xplenty’s most popular connectors is its two-way Salesforce-to-Salesforce connector. This feature – which Fivetran does not include – allows you to extract Salesforce information, transform it within Xplenty’s data engine, and load it back into Salesforce. Typically, only the largest, most expensive data integration platforms – like MuleSoft and Talend – can perform Salesforce-to-Salesforce integrations. Xplenty makes these tasks easy to set up for a portion of the cost. 

Pricing Structure

Fivetran uses a consumption-based pricing method while Xplenty uses a flat-rate, connector-based pricing method.

Fivetran: Consumption-Based Pricing

Fivetran charges based on consumption, so the more data rows you consume, the higher the cost of using the platform. This works well for organizations with minimal data demands, but if you scale into high-volume territory, the high price of Fivetran’s consumption-based fees will soon become impractical. 

Consumption-based pricing also poses a challenge for budgeting. Since your data consumption can skyrocket and decline depending on monthly requirements, you may find that it’s impossible to predict how much your data integration costs will be from month-to-month and year-to-year. 

Xplenty: Flat-Rate, Per-Connection Pricing 

Unlike Fivetran, Xplenty charges a flat monthly rate per connector. Xplenty does not charge based on data volume (or lines of data), nor does it charge for additional processing power when performing in-pipeline transformations. This helps manage costs when dealing with large datasets and complex transformation workflows. 

Compared to an ELT solution like Fivetran – which relies on the compute power of your destination to carry out post-load transformations – Xplenty provides the processing power without additional fees. Moreover, Xplenty’s flat-rate pricing means that you won't face exorbitant bills after a month of high-volume consumption. Finally, budgeting is more predictable because your bill stays the same unless you change the number of connectors. 

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ETL vs ELT

Fivetran is an ELT-only solution, while Xplenty is an ETL solution that can also manage ELT processes if desired. 

Fivetran: ELT Only (No In-Pipeline Data Transformations)

Fivetran takes advantage of the immense processing power of modern data warehouses, which can handle complex, large-volume transformations. Instead of performing transformations in its own data engine, Fivetran uses your cloud data warehouse to carry out SQL-coded transformations after loading. 

Post-load transformations are fine if you’re dealing with a small dataset, but it’s important to remember that you will need to pay for the compute power required to perform those transformations.

According to Red Pill Analytics:

“SQL statements in Fivetran are executed using a “push-down” technique, sending SQL to the target warehouse and allowing the statement to be processed using compute provided by the target warehouse... Fivetran takes advantage of their customer’s investment in cloud data warehousing.”

Fivetran performs data transformations by siphoning processing power from your data warehouse. Essentially, it piggybacks onto your data warehouse, and this is the only way Fivetran can offer low prices. They pass the cost onto you by increasing your data warehouse bill. This isn’t a problem you’re dealing with low-volume data ingestion. However, if your data demands scale into “big data” territory, Fivetran’s consumption-based pricing and your data warehouse processing costs will skyrocket to unaffordable levels. 

Xplenty: ETL and ELT (In-Pipeline Data Transformations)

Xplenty is an ETL platform that performs in-pipeline (pre-load) transformations within its powerful data engine while your data is in transit to the destination. The platform can also manage post-load transformations (ELT); however, Xplenty’s true advantages are realized when you allow the platform to provide the compute power for large-volume transformations at no additional cost. 

Due to Xplenty’s flat-rate pricing structure, you can perform complex, in-pipeline transformations without incurring additional processing fees – which makes the platform extremely cost-efficient when managing integrations for large datasets.

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Skill-Level Requirement

Both Fivetran and Xplenty were built to be intuitive and easy to use. The main difference is that Fivetran requires SQL skills to set up transformations. While Xplenty offers SQL coding tools for developers who want that flexibility, the platform doesn’t require users to have any coding knowledge at all. 

Fivetran: SQL Coding Skills Required

When setting up automated data transformations on Fivetran, developers need to code the transformations in SQL. Fivetran provides cut-and-paste SQL code snippets, which speeds up and simplifies the coding process considerably.

Users with SQL skills will find Fivetran’s UI easy to operate when developing transformations. Nevertheless, you will require SQL knowledge to successfully operate the platform. 

As we described above, Fivetran’s transformation capabilities were introduced recently in mid-2019. Here’s how Red Pill Analytics described these features not long after they were released:

“The new transformation layer allows creating and saving custom SQL statements to be run against the data warehouse. No longer solely focused on extracting and loading data, adding the transformation functionality rounds out a full extract-load-transform (ELT) offering.”

Here’s a screen capture of Fivetran’s UI for SQL transformations:

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Source: Fivetran Youtube Channel

Xplenty: No Coding Skills Required but SQL-Editor Is Available

In achieving its goal of being an ETL platform that anyone – regardless of their ETL experience and tech knowledge level – can use to build complex data pipelines, Xplenty has not sacrificed any of the powers and capabilities of an enterprise-grade ETL solution. 

To facilitate the process of building complex data transformations without any coding skills, Xplenty offers 100+ out-of-the-box transformations (including FILTER, SELECT, JOIN, CLONE, LIMIT, and more). These no-code transformations empower anyone to automate the kinds of data transformations and workflows that once were the domain of data engineers only. 

More sophisticated ETL engineers will find that Xplenty’s native scripting language offers all of the advanced customization opportunities they need. Plus, all of Xplenty’s data warehouse and database destination connectors have the option of adding SQL to run before/after the data gets loaded into the destination. This allows you to increase your data sophistication and “future-proof” your ETL processes to support the continued future growth of your company.

Users with SQL knowledge will find Xplenty’s SQL editor very intuitive to operate. It’s literally the best of both worlds.

Here’s a high-speed look at creating an ETL workflow from Salesforce to Redshift in Xplenty. At normal speed the entire process takes about three minutes:

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Xplenty’s SQL editor for hand-coding in-pipeline and post-loading transformations:

SQL editor.png

Here’s what reviewers say about Xplenty’s no-code UI:

“There are mostly two types of ETL as a service on the market: one is super easy to use and can migrate your data across services and databases but lacks transformation capabilities, while the other needs full-time data engineers to operate but tailored solutions are available programmatically. Xplenty sits in the golden middle letting analysts and engineers deploying custom transformation jobs in minutes even based on multiple data sources.”

“Xplenty is on PAR with enterprise-level tools.”

Customer Support

Both Fivetran and Xplenty offer user support to all service level commitments. 

Fivetran: Unlimited Customer Support for All Service Levels

Fivetran offers free customer support to all of its service-level commitments. However, bypassing support delays and getting a faster response time requires a subscription to Fivetran’s most expensive service tier. 

After reviewing numerous customer reviews, we found a common theme: Fivetran’s support team takes a long time to address user concerns. Customers are often left waiting in the dark, wondering if they’ll ever find a solution. 

Here’s what users say about Fivetran support:

“Fivetran's customer support is not very helpful as you have to constantly reach out to them for updates. On occasions, it takes them days to reply on threads or provide plausible updates. Fivetran sales team provided great support for 15 days before purchasing the product. But once the contract was signed that level of support was nowhere to be found. Customer support is an essential service when buying into ingestion tools, especially at the premium price of Fivetran. But Fivetran fails to follow-through on scalability and customer support, from our experience.”

"It is good. But sometimes, the speed of customer service to reply is slow. They cannot help us as soon as possible."

“The support folks, while knowledgeable, must be swamped. There are times where there is an immediate issue but response times take hours. This has caused us to run fire drills to try and fix an issue when it was due to something on Fivetran's side, but we didn't get confirmation of it until a few hours later.”

Xplenty: Unlimited Phone and Video Support for All Service Levels

Xplenty includes a highly-responsive customer support team that’s available to all service-level commitments. It doesn’t matter if you’re paying for two connections or a thousand. If you’re an Xplenty customer and need help creating an integration or automated transformation workflow, Xplenty’s integration specialists are always just a phone call away. 

In fact, Xplenty views its support team as the key to achieving its goal of providing an ETL platform that anyone can use for high-volume data ingestion and data transformation. When you join the Xplenty family, not only do you gain access to the most advanced ETL solution on the market, but you also get paired with a new essential member of your team: Your dedicated Xplenty integration specialist. 

The high level of satisfaction with Xplenty’s awesome support team stands out in user reviews:

 “When there is no native connector, the REST API connector will achieve the result we want, and the support team is always ready to jump in and help if needed. I also like the fact that the support team and comprehensive documentation are often focussed on helping you learn to achieve the result you want rather than doing the job for you. This has helped us leverage the learnings for other uses.”

“What we love best about Xplenty is the near real-time support we get from the team. Xplenty's point of difference is the customer support we receive. The product itself is good. Easy to use at a high level. The people at Xplenty are the difference which is unusual for Cloud proposition. A nice change from dealing with a faceless machine.”

Xplenty support is accessible via email, phone, and video conference, and it’s incredible. Your dedicated Xplenty integration specialist will feel like a member of your team who is always available to take the reins and set up the ETL process you require.

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Monitoring/Logging

Fivetran does not include monitoring or logging within its UI, which is a significant departure from Xplenty. Xplenty’s UI includes advanced monitoring and logging tools for progress updates and troubleshooting. 

Fivetran: No Monitoring/Logging in the UI

Fivetran’s UI doesn’t offer monitoring/logging information – like data loading progress estimates, etc. – for pending and completed jobs. For this reason, some users describe Fivetran as a “black box.” This lack of monitoring/logging transparency makes troubleshooting difficult, so users are forced to implement a third-party solution (which may represent an additional expense). Many set up backend logging through Amazon AWS. 

Here’s what Fivetran users have to say about monitoring/logging:

“There's little to no progress estimate on the front end UI to see how long this refresh might take and you need to enable backend logging in Amazon to see where it's at in the sync process and derive rough estimates of completion time.”

"You aren't completely in control. Fivetran is a black box, and when there is a problem, it's really difficult to diagnose. Their support line is no prize, either."

“No internal logs. Have to use third-party tools.”

Xplenty: Advanced Monitoring/Logging Features within the UI

Xplenty’s UI allows you to monitor currently-running jobs and previously-executed jobs within the platform. You can monitor jobs on clusters in the dashboard, on a single cluster’s page, by using webhooks, or by polling the API. The Xplenty UI displays interactive data that you can click for more details. 

Xplenty’s monitoring/logging features display the following details:

  • Job ID
  • Package name
  • Cluster name
  • Data submitted
  • Team member who performed the action
  • Current job status: idle/pending/running/done/failed/stopped/etc.
  • Job progress percentage
  • Job errors/failures
  • Many other details

Xplenty gives a summary view of pending and completed jobs that you can click for additional details:

Jobs.png

Who Should Use Fivetran?

Fivetran’s ELT platform is most appropriate for organizations with simple, low-volume data integration needs. In fact, Fivetran appears to have specifically designed its platform to serve this use-case, and it is particularly adept and cost-effective at achieving what small-volume integrations require.

Here’s how Fivetran supports this use-case:

  • Consumption-based pricing: Fivetran’s pricing – which charges based on the number of rows you consume – rewards organizations with smaller data demands. However, as you scale upward to massive data sets, this pricing model becomes impractical. 
  • Post-load transformations: Fivetran performs data transformations within your data warehouse, which means that you pay the processing (compute) costs. With Fivetran's new pricing model, this means that their pricing is favorable for low-volume integrations. This is fine if you’re not ingesting a lot of data. However, both your Fivetran and warehouse compute costs will skyrocket as your data volumes grow and you start processing millions of rows of data each month.
  • Lack of monitoring in the UI: Fivetran’s lack of monitoring/logging features in its UI suggest that the platform is better suited for small, fast extract/load operations as opposed to large-scale uploads that could take hours or days to complete. If your data uploads in a minute, tracking progress isn’t essential. If it takes hours to upload, then you really want to closely monitor what’s happening. 

At the end of the day, larger enterprises and rapidly-growing startups could face challenges with Fivetran due to its volume-based pricing structure, which (1) makes high-volume data integrations expensive and impractical, and (2) makes monthly budgeting impossible to predict. That being said, if you have someone on your team who can code SQL transformations, Fivetran offers a solid, easy-to-use ELT solution for businesses with low data requirements that don’t require in-pipeline transformations.

Here’s what users say about Fivetran’s challenges with high-volume data: 

“A full schema refresh takes us 2-3 days and knocks us offline from monitoring up-to-date business KPIs, running updated analyses, etc. This is likely due to us having massive amounts of data (from a count(1) perspective, not size of tables perspective).”

“Fivetran is not scalable for large datasets when it comes to binary log syncs. We have run into problems from day 1, as we have 100s of GB worth data to be synced from a single connector every day. It has been over a month since the issue was first identified on Fivetran's end but there is no resolution in sight or even a timeline to resolve the issue.”

Who Should Use Xplenty?

Xplenty was designed for (1) organizations that need to build high-volume data integrations and complex data transformation workflows; and (2) organizations that want an easy-to-use ETL solution that empowers anyone – regardless of their tech experience – to connect any data source to any destination.

Here’s how Xplenty supports this use-case: 

  • Flat-rate pricing: Xplenty’s flat-rate pricing offers a predictable, easy-to-budget structure that allows you to scale the volume of your integrations to virtually any size – while performing complex in-pipeline data transformations on large datasets – without incurring additional costs. 
  • In-pipeline transformations: Xplenty’s ability to manage in-pipeline transformations within its powerful data engine before the data loads into the destination reduces compute costs on your end. By eliminating these auxiliary processing costs, Xplenty further supports a cost-effective, predictable, and easy-to-budget pricing model for large volume ingestion. 
  • Advanced monitoring: Xplenty puts the monitoring/logging information you need at your fingertips for easy troubleshooting and disaster prevention. These metrics provide real-time data on the progress and projected completion times for large data integrations, and a great deal more information to dive deeper into problems. 
  • Highly-responsive customer support: The Xplenty support team is always there to hold your hand and take the reins. This is especially helpful when a team member is new to ETL and doesn’t understand much about data integration. 

Xplenty’s utility, power, flexibility, ease-of-use, and cost-efficiency shine when you’re managing large volume ETL processes but don’t want to incur the overhead, steep learning curves, and massive auxiliary costs associated with a megalithic ETL platform like MuleSoft, Talend, or Jitterbit

Here’s one user describes Xplenty:

“After evaluating 10 or so ETL providers I went with Xplenty because their service has a relatively straightforward GUI, but also allows for a fairly sophisticated level of configuration. Most of the time the GUI is sufficient, but I'm also able to script bits and pieces and add custom SQL to handle the weird edge cases or make some of the large transfers more efficient (e.g. using a custom date field). I'm also able to do data transformations as part of the pipeline.”

Final Thoughts on FiveTran vs Xplenty

Let’s finish this comparison with an analogy. Imagine you need to buy a vehicle for your morning commute. It has to carry yourself, your kids, and several kids from the neighborhood, who you’ll drop off at school. 

Are you going to choose the two-seater Smart Car or the eight-seater Toyota SUV? 

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You’d choose the SUV because (1) it’s big enough to handle your volume of kids, (2) it's got plenty of room to grow; and (3) it’s more durable and reliable, and (4) it's got impressive bells and whistles for an easier, more comfortable ride.

Fivetran is like the Smart Car – an affordable, efficient solution if you don’t have to transport a lot of data. Xplenty is like the Toyota SUV – a large-volume, durable, enterprise-grade ETL platform with unlimited room to grow, and all the advanced capabilities and future-proofing you could want. 

If you’re looking for a flexible, easy-to-use, ETL solution that can scale with your organization and expertly meet your high-volume data demands, schedule a call with an Xplenty integration specialist, and experience Xplenty for yourself.