The process of data integration allows users to combine data from multiple sources. It's extremely valuable for reporting, analysis, and business intelligence. Of course, data integration is best handled with a feature-rich tool, and those can be costly. Here's a comparison of some tools that feature a free version.

Table of Contents

  1. Choosing The Right Tool
  2. ArcESB
  3. Linx
  4. HVR
  5. SnapLogic
  6. Xplenty

Choosing The Right Tool

These days, just about every large organization relies on a data warehouse to store all the information they keep about their clients. Many have turned to cloud-based solutions, like TeraData, Snowflake, or Amazon Redshift. Whatever warehouse you use, picture it as the core of your data onion. In order to peel away at your data onion, you need the right tools. Data integration will ultimately help you gain access to and an understanding of all that data you're keeping stored away (probably in many different places).

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Data Sources and Targets

Your top consideration should be finding a tool that will enable you to seamlessly connect to all the places where your data lives, which is typically done using an API connector. You can think of API connectors as data glue. APIs enable you to send information between services with the use of customizable webhooks and triggers. When set up correctly, these APIs will prove extremely efficient in organizing all the right information in all the right places.

Business Intelligence Prep

Once your data is organized using your data integration tool, it should then be ready for use within Business Intelligence (BI) applications, because that's where you're actually going to generate helpful charts, graphs, and reports based on all the data you've organized. As such, finding a data integration tool that gets you ready for your BI processes is a major factor.

Pricing

As with most business essentials, you will want to factor in the price of each solution as you navigate toward your final decision. Keep in mind, however, that the total cost of these solutions isn't always cut-and-dry. Even if you've found a free or low-cost tool that you think will work for you, it is important to understand each company's billing structure before you start working on the platform.

In some cases, factors like the number of users, connections, or the amount of data can increase your total monthly spend or even impact your ability to use the tool effectively. Knowing this information will help you conduct a true cost comparison between the tools that meet your needs and your budget.

Once you have all of that information sorted out, you're ready to select a tool for your organization. All of the following tools are built to handle big data applications while still offering some kind of free version or test pilot.

5) ArcESB

  • Visual interface with no code
  • Simple and fast setup
  • Enterprise-ready without the complexity
  • Run it on-premise or on the Cloud
  • Pricing starts at $499/year

ArcESB makes data integration easy. This powerful platform has an intuitive interface that helps users connect their data and applications quickly. They promise you'll go from installation to integration in 30 minutes or less, all you have to do is configure things to your liking.

It's praised for its functionality, although some say the execution could use improvement. Unfortunately, Capterra users complain that ArcESB is unable to handle their volume while others say, even as technical users, the UI can be a bit limiting with more advanced things requiring custom coding after all (despite the promise of no code).

ArcESB offers a free version, with more expansive versions ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on your organization.

4) Linx

  • Visual interface with no code
  • Build and reuse connections that bridge public and private environments
  • Transform your data across systems using business and workflow logic
  • Manage APIs throughout their entire lifestyle
  • Run-time environment to deploy custom applications and automated integrations
  • Pricing starts at $149 per user, per month

Linx is another platform that helps you easily manage your integration processes. With its low-code interface, you can connect to virtually any database, API, file, third-party library, or another business system. You can also connect to and manage your custom applications, all they say you can do it all without using code.

However, with limited pre-built solutions and little documentation, using Linx effectively requires you to know the APIs you're talking to. Other users complain about glitches in the UI and a sluggish web services manager. A recent review from an independent business owner in the computer software industry reads:

"Overall, Linx's current model is lacking in too many areas which are important to developers who need to deploy applications quickly across multiple platforms. Linx Server should not have a place in the build/deployment stage. This alone limits my available options for building/deploying where I want to for the most efficiency. I shouldn't have to change my approach to developing application to ensure that Linx fits squarely."

3) HVR

  • Reduce latency when working with large volumes of data
  • Enable real-time and accurate reports
  • Accelerate the movement of your large data stores
  • One of the most comprehensive Common Cloud Data Integration Scenario solutions

This data integration tool strives to enable users to work with data in real-time, replicating a large volume of data between sources and targets. The platform is capable of processing extremely high volumes of data, all while minimally impacting the performance of your database -- at least, that's what developers promise.

HVR is a fairly new software with limited reviews. Out of the handful of reviews that can be found on G2, some noted the UI could use an update but didn't have much else to share. You also can't find a mention of HVR's pricing anywhere on the web and you'll need to reach out to them directly to discuss a quote.

2) SnapLogic

  • Setup your integrations using a code-free visual interface
  • Manage data flow throughout its lifecycle
  • Integrate with BigData sources, like NoSQL and Hadoop
  • Supports real-time integration with event or transaction-based connections
  • Pricing starts at $24,000/year with a free version available

If you're working with an enterprise-level IT department, SnapLogic helps connect IT with other lines of business while accelerating the adoption of cloud apps, such as Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Workday. However, with pricing starting at $24k/year for mid-market businesses and $125k/year for enterprises, you'll be happy to learn there's a free version available.

Unfortunately, the software is not perfect. Even those paying for an enterprise plan suggested the support team "can be much better" and that limited source connections could hold back development. Additionally, with only basic support for Python and the need to purchase different snap packs for various databases and sources, the cons and costs of SnapLogic seem to outweigh to pros.

1) Xplenty

  • Centralize your data and prepare it for Business Intelligence applications
  • Transfer and transform your data, moving it between data warehouses and internal databases
  • Send data directly to Salesforce or use Heroku Connect
  • Pull data from any Rest API using the Rest API connector

With its cloud-based setup, Xplenty is a top ETL solution that provides simplified, visual pipelines for automating your data flows. On-platform tools allow you to transform data with ease, and the entire setup strictly adheres to the most recent compliance standards and best practices. Though Xplenty does not have a free version of their software on offer, you can easily obtain a no-cost 7-day trial, allowing you to experience the platform firsthand before you invest.

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Make The Right Decision

Selecting the best data integration platform is critical to your business. Though free solutions may look appealing in the short term, you may find yourself paying more down the road as your data needs and volumes increase.

In fact, there are many pitfalls that come along with the alluring promise of "free" software, including lack of scalability, compromised security, and less-than-intuitive interfaces overall. Ultimately, if you truly want to position your business for success, you'll make the investment in a tool that can grow with you.

Xplenty's predictable pricing structure allows you to anticipate your monthly data integration expenses no matter how your volumes change. To see the difference for yourself, schedule an intro call to discuss your needs and engage your risk-free test pilot today.