3 Key Differences Between Informatica and Xplenty:
- Informatica requires a specially-trained data engineer to operate. Xplenty is easy for anyone to use.
- Informatica fails to combine powerful ETL with ease-of-use. Xplenty merges the power of enterprise-grade ETL with ease-of-use.
- Informatica comes with high licensing fees and steep auxiliary costs. Xplenty is affordable with zero auxiliary costs.
Informatica and Xplenty are powerful data integration platforms that offer cutting-edge tools to extract, transform, and load your data from virtually any data source to any destination. That being said, there are important differences between Informatica and Xplenty that could affect your decision to choose one over the other.
Here’s a quick description of both:
- Informatica: A complex integration platform with a tool for every data and app integration use-case. Whether it’s an iPaaS, API gateway, data management platform, or extract, transform, and load (ETL) solution, Informatica has an enterprise-grade solution for it.
- Xplenty: An enterprise-grade, cloud-native ETL platform that allows any ETL beginner – regardless of their tech experience and coding knowledge – to quickly design sophisticated data integration pipelines and powerful data transformation workflows between any source/destination.
In this review of Informatica and Xplenty, we’ll take a close look at both platforms from a data integration (ETL) perspective. We’ll start with a detailed overview of both, then delve deeper into their available connectors, transformation capabilities, and the quality of customer support.
Please use these links to navigate this guide:
- Overview of Informatica
- Overview of Xplenty
- Pre-Built Connectors and Transformations
- User Support
- Final Thoughts on Informatica and Xplenty (TL;DR)
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Founded in 1993, Informatica is an integration platform that services virtually every integration use-case – ETL, iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service), API management, and more. Due to Informatica’s reputation as a mature leader in the ETL landscape – and its ability to manage large-scale projects – many global enterprises use Informatica to meet their data integration needs.
Noteworthy Informatica customers include:
- U.S. Air Force
- Ace Hardware
- BBVA Compass
- Conde Nast
From a data integration perspective, Informatica’s most important data integration products are (1) Informatica PowerCenter and (2) Informatica Cloud Data Integration (ICDI). Let’s see how they compare
Informatica PowerCenter: Features and Characteristics
Informatica PowerCenter is an ETL platform for large enterprises. PowerCenter consists of four primary components: Workflow Manager, Monitor, Designer, and Repository Manager. To develop a complete ETL pipeline, a data engineer needs to use each of these components in a complex yet structured design flow. PowerCenter’s complexity means that data engineers face a steep learning curve, require extensive training through “Informatica University,” and preferably have Informatica certification.
Here’s how Senior Data Solutions Architect Jody Gitchel describes the complex design flow for developing a simple data mapping transformation with PowerCenter:
- Establish a connection with the source, and the system will automatically name the container the same as the connection.
- Open the Designer application.
- Establish a source connection.
- Import the source connection into the Designer and check it in.
- Establish a target connection.
- Import the target connection into the Designer and check it in.
- Develop data transformation mapping.
- Open the Workflow Manager application.
- Use the data transformation mapping you created to develop a workflow in the Workflow Manager.
- Separately create multiple sessions for testing the workflow.
- Test/run the data mapping with Workflow Manager.
- Open a fourth application called Monitor.
- Monitor the health and performance of the process.
Gitchel and another user say the following about this complexity:
“Each step in the design process is a separate application, and although stitched together, is not without its problems. For a developer coming from something like SSIS, this can be daunting and cumbersome for building a simple POC and trying to test it (although from the inverse, building an enterprise scalable ETL solution from SSIS is its own challenge).” -Jody Gitchel
“Most new tools have a great cloud version where you can hop onto a URL, do your work, and deploy it in minutes. With Informatica, you still have multiple client tools just to be able to deploy a single workflow and monitor as it runs. This can be both confusing and overwhelming to users.” -IT Engineer-
PowerCenter’s high cost is another concern. Its licensing fees are so exorbitant that most small- to medium-sized businesses can’t afford it. Users also need to remember the steep auxiliary costs:
- Staffing: You’ll need Informatica-certified engineers to design ETL pipelines, monitor/improve performance, maintain the software, and troubleshoot problems. Informatica-certified professionals receive about $100,000 annually.
- Hardware and hosting: You’ll need to install PowerCenter somewhere, so there will be additional hardware, server licensing, and/or cloud hosting costs. Because you will be “paying for what you use” from month to month, scaling resources up and down each month to meet changing requirements makes budgeting for the platform very unpredictable.
One user says that Informatica is an excellent platform but the costs are high:
“The licensing is very expensive but it is manageable. It's value for money. Every time we need to pay an extra amount if we want any extra plugin for other applications to be activated. I highly recommend this ETL tool over other tools but only if you could afford it.” -Administrator in Environmental Services
At the end of the day, designing an ETL pipeline with PowerCenter takes time and experienced data engineers are required. Since departments will need to wait for IT to develop the integrations they need, the platform is most appropriate for designing long-term ETL pipelines that you don’t plan to change. Compared to an easier-to-use ETL solution that doesn’t require a data engineer, PowerCenter is not as nimble or cost-effective when responding to changing business requirements.
Here’s how users describe Informatica PowerCenter:
“With all the great things about Informatica, it has a bit of tech burden that should be addressed to make it more nimble, reduce the learning curve for new developers, provide better connectivity with visualization tools.” -Engineer in IT
“It requires more in-depth training than some of the other ETL tools we use, including Informatica Cloud. With Cloud, you can guess and be right 99% of the time. With PowerCenter, you need a few weeks of training, and then still have to ask an expert.” -Manager in Finance and Accounting
“The tool [PowerCenter] is a bit complicated at starting as it contains four different components... Understanding the functionality of each of these above-mentioned components is very difficult initially. Informatica requires a good level of SQL skills ... to fetch data with an exact filter. Additionally, it also requires a good amount of knowledge on shell scripting as there will be very high chances that the files should be sent via FTP or SFTP…” -Consultant in Information Tech and Services
Informatica Cloud Data Integration (ICDI): Features and Characteristics
Informatica Cloud Data Integration (ICDI) is an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service), so it’s optimized for app integrations. Nevertheless, like many cloud-based API management solutions, ICDI can also serve as an ETL replacement by managing basic data integrations. As a user-friendly platform, ICDI provides a wide range of pre-built connectors for popular sources/destinations and SaaS applications. It also offers basic data transformation capabilities.
While ICDI does an excellent job with high-volume extract-load operations, its data transformation capabilities are limited. If you need to perform sophisticated, resource-heavy data transformations, you’re better off using a real ETL platform like PowerCenter, MuleSoft Anypoint Platform, or Xplenty.
Here’s how one user describes ICDI:
“[Informatica Cloud Data Integration] is very good for high volume, low-complexity. Replication is really their sweet spot, especially if working with cloud systems like salesforce.com. Of the ETL, they are good at E and L. There are limited transform capabilities, but if you are really looking to do major transformations in transit, look at something more complicated like Talend or even Informatica PowerCenter.” -Administrator in Computer Hardware
Key Takeaways About Informatica
Both of the above-described data integration solutions from Informatica serve vital use-cases in the data integration landscape, but neither solution serves the best of both worlds. Therefore, Informatica forces you to choose between:
- PowerCenter: A powerful yet dizzyingly complicated ETL platform that’s expensive with a high learning curve (PowerCenter); or
- ICDI: A more affordable iPaaS that lacks the power and capabilities of a real, enterprise-grade ETL solution.
Unfortunately, Informatica doesn’t offer a solution that merges power, ease-of-use, and affordability into a single ETL solution. If that’s what you need, ETL solutions like this are available, and you may want to consider other options.
This IT engineer sums up Informatica concisely:
“Informatica over time has become a behemoth of data integration and warehousing world. It has built a vast array of tools to address various user needs. This does not bode well for the future looking at all the newer technologies which do not have so much of a tech burden.” -IT Engineer
Founded in 2011, Xplenty is a cloud-native ETL as a service platform that offers ease-of-use and affordability without sacrificing the powerful ETL capabilities that a data-driven business requires.
Xplenty combines a drag-and-drop interface and personalized user support to empower any member of your organization to design sophisticated extract, transform, and load pipelines. It doesn’t matter if you’re a front desk receptionist, an accountant from finance, or a business analyst without any coding skills. You can use Xplenty to connect virtually any data source with any destination – including the most popular databases, data warehouses, and cloud data warehouses.
Noteworthy customers of Xplenty include:
- Philip Morris International
- The Motley Fool
Xplenty: Features and Characteristics
As an ETL-only solution, some of Xplenty’s best characteristics include:
- Cloud-native ETL as a service accessible from any internet-connected web browser
- Intuitive, drag-and-drop, no-code/low-code GUI
- Approximately 140 native connectors for databases, data warehouses, and cloud-based SaaS platforms
- REST API connector
- 100+ drag-and-drop data transformations for automated workflow creation
- Cutting-edge security, encryption, and data compliance features
- Email alerts without the needing to customize any settings
- Virtually unlimited scaling via dynamically-created clusters
- Unlimited support by phone and video conference for all users
- Salesforce to Salesforce integrations
Another important feature of Xplenty is its flat-rate pricing structure. Xplenty charges a flat rate per connector. It doesn’t charge based on data volume, and it doesn’t charge based on the processing required to manage in-pipeline data transformations. This means that if your data volume or processing requirements scale one month your bill stays exactly the same. Another benefit from a cost perspective is that Xplenty runs full in the cloud, so there are no auxiliary costs associated with running the platform. All of this saves money and dramatically simplifies ETL budgeting.
Here’s what users say about Xplenty:
“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.” -Tamas S.
“Xplenty is on PAR with enterprise-level tools.” -Guru Kiran S.
“The customer support is one of the best I have experienced. They were very prompt every time I would have an issue with using Xplenty. Moreover, the development team is also quite fast, as they were able to implement pagination for an API I was using in less than 2 days.” -Alexandru B.
Key Takeaways About Xplenty
At the end of the day, Xplenty is a “best-of-both-worlds” ETL solution that offers the following benefits:
- Blends power and user-friendliness: Xplenty offers a unique blend of enterprise-level ETL, affordability, ease-of-use, and an awesome customer team. It’s a solution that meets the needs of small businesses and large enterprises alike.
- Brings enterprise-grade ETL down to earth: Xplenty offers enterprise-grade, scalable, ETL capabilities that are usually only available in a high-cost, difficult-to-use platform (like MuleSoft, Jitterbit, or PowerCenter). These include high-volume data pipelines, complex transformation capabilities, Salesforce to Salesforce integrations, and more.
Xplenty has helped countless businesses, large-scale enterprises, and individual departments overcome their data integration bottlenecks while saving money and freeing up IT staff to focus on more critical business tasks.
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Pre-built Connectors and Transformations
Let’s see how Informatica and Xplenty compare in terms of their pre-built connectors and out-of-the-box data transformations.
Informatica: Connectors and Transformations
Informatica users gain access to a wide range of pre-built connectors for different data sources and destinations. However, the exact list of connectors you can access may differ based on the Informatica solutions, configurations, and service-level commitments you choose.
With PowerCenter, you may have to pay an additional amount for a SaaS connection add-on called “PowerExchange for Cloud Applications.” Unfortunately, Informatica’s website does not disclose the list of connectors that PowerExchange includes, though it likely includes the 148 connectors offered with ICDI.
As for data transformations, PowerCenter is capable of managing complex transformation workflows at scale. As long as you have an Informatica-certified data engineer at your disposal, you can achieve virtually all of your data transformation goals.
Here’s what users say about PowerCenter’s transformation capabilities:
“It provides various different kinds of transformation techniques, which helps transform the data in any way the business expects. It has various transformations like source qualifier, lookup transformation, joiner transformation, normalizer, SQL transformation, TCL transformation, sorter transformations, etc. Additionally to these inbuilt transformations, Informatica also supports java transformation where users can write customized java code which helps to achieve the most difficult functionality.” -Information Tech Consultant
With the ICDI iPaaS, users benefit from approximately 148 pre-built connectors to popular databases, data warehouses, and SaaS solutions. ICDI also provides a REST API connector for creating custom connections. However, ICDI users need to remember that an iPaaS like ICDI is optimized for application integrations and API management – not ETL. Therefore, ICDI connections will not be able to manage sophisticated data transformation workflows.
Here are some of ICDI’s pre-built connectors:
Here’s a general data flow diagram for Informatica:
Xplenty: Connectors and Transformations
With approximately 140 native connectors for popular sources/destinations, Xplenty can connect with virtually anything. The platform also includes a REST API connector so you can quickly build a custom connection for an uncommon source/destination. Plus, if you ever encounter a challenge, your dedicated Xplenty data integration specialist is always available to help.
One of Xplenty’s most popular features is its ability to manage Salesforce to Salesforce data connections. That means you can extract data from Salesforce, transform and/or enrich the data in-pipeline, then push it back into Salesforce. A Salesforce-to-Salesforce connector also lets you move data from one Salesforce org to another – to synchronize Salesforce data across departments and partnering organizations.
Here are some of Xplenty’s pre-built connectors:
In addition to its wide range of connectors, Xplenty offers 100+ no-code transformations. ETL beginners can set up automated workflows using a drag-and-drop interface to perform actions like FILTER, JOIN, SELECT, LIMIT, CLONE, and more. In addition to these in-pipeline transformation features, data engineers with coding experience have the freedom to customize their own transformations using Xplenty’s native scripting language or SQL.
Here’s what users say about Xplenty’s pre-built connectors and transformations:
“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.” -Nick G.
Most of the time the GUI is sufficient, but I'm also I'm 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. -Mike B.
“Xplenty manages to be simple to set up and use while still putting an extensive array of functionalities and transformations at your disposal to establish a customized dataflow.” -User in E-Learning
User support is a vital element of success for both Informatica and Xplenty. According to users, Informatica support is helpful but doesn’t have a personalized feel. With Xplenty, each account has a dedicated specialist who can provide one-on-one assistance on a day-to-day basis.
Informatica User Support
Due to the complexity of Informatica’s offerings, the availability of customer support is key. Customers can sign up for three different levels of Informatica support:
- Basic Success: Phone assistance available during normal business hours from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Premium Support: Phone assistance available 24/7 when it’s a “Priority 1” support case.
- Signature Success: Phone assistance available 24/7 for all support cases.
For additional understanding of the platform, users can attend “Informatica University” and take certification exams to prove their competency.
Here’s how reviewers describe Informatica user support:
“Setting up Informatica and integrating with your existing services can be a hassle. While the support team is quite helpful, it can still take a considerable amount of time and effort to get Informatica up and running.” -Engineer in Information Technology
“What do you dislike? Customer support. It feels like it is a large outsourced operation, and for the most part, you will end up resolving issues before support is able to.” -David G.
Xplenty User Support
The fact that every Xplenty account has unlimited access to a dedicated integration specialist is a defining characteristic of the platform. It’s also the reason why Xplenty has been able to create an enterprise-grade ETL platform that anyone can use.
Whether you’re using Xplenty to run a single integration that connects two Salesforce orgs – or juggling 1,000 different data connections – Xplenty’s awesome support team is available to answer your questions and help you overcome challenges. Your Xplenty integration specialist will even take the reins to help you develop sophisticated data pipelines. Your Xplenty integration specialist will feel more like a member of your team than a nameless person in a distant call center.
Here’s what reviewers say about Xplenty support:
“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.” -Jamie B.
“As a bonus to the product features, Xplenty has excellent customer service. The team goes above and beyond to work with us to develop our data flows and answer any questions we have about the product in their real-time chat system. If bugs or feature requests are discussed, the support team works with us to find adequate workarounds and keeps us in-the-loop while the fix/feature is implemented.” -Lally B.
“Do not hesitate to contact XPlenty's live support. They will get you up and running in no time and will help you sort out common strategies in designing your pipeline.” -User in E-Learning
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Side-by-Side Comparison of Informatica and Xplenty
ETL, ELT, Data Integration, Data Management, App Integration, API Gateway, iPaaS
ETL, ELT, and Data Integration
Skill level requirement
Requires skilled data engineers preferably with Informatica certification.
No skill requirement; easy for non-tech-savvy staff and ETL beginners to operate
Hardware, server hosting, skilled labor
No auxiliary costs
Approximately 148 native connectors for common databases, data sources, apps, and SaaS services, plus REST API connector
Approximately 140 native connectors for common databases, data sources, apps, and SaaS services, plus REST API connector
Developer Tools Available?
REST API, Connector Toolkit, and Informatica Developer Tool
REST API, SQL Editor, Native Scripting Language, plus unlimited assistance from Xplenty integration specialists
User support available?
Users must pay extra to access live phone support
All users have access to unlimited email, phone, and video conference support with a dedicated integration specialist
Database replication features
Incremental replication through change data capture, and full table replication
Incremental replication through SELECT (replication) keys, and full table replication
Support for Service Level Agreements (SLAs) available?
Data Compliance, Security, and Encryption
HIPAA, SOC 2, SOC 3, Privacy Shield
SOC 2, SOX, PCI, GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA; SSL/TLS encryption; physically hosted/managed in Amazon data centers using AWS technology; AWS meets the highest cloud security standards
Data sharing available?
Available via the additional service Informatica Cloud
Final Thoughts on Informatica vs Xplenty
Let’s review what we’ve covered in this guide concerning Informatica’s data integration solutions (PowerCenter and ICDI) and Xplenty:
Informatica PowerCenter is an extremely powerful ETL platform with highly-nuanced capabilities that data engineers and experienced ETL developers can use to satisfy virtually any ETL use-case. Here’s what to remember about PowerCenter:
- PowerCenter requires a team of in-house, Informatica-certified data engineers who have sufficient experience with the platform.
- It requires the patience to deal with one of the most dizzyingly complicated and difficult to learn ETL solutions on the market.
- PowerCenter requires a large budget that can afford its licensing fees and auxiliary costs.
- Users must pay extra for access to phone-based support.
- It’s a good match for organizations that actually need a wide variety of app integration, data integration, and data management use-cases that Informatica serves.
Informatica Cloud Data Integration (ICDI) is an easier-to-use, lighter-weight, iPaaS that can serve as a more budget-friendly way to achieve your data integration needs. Here’s what to remember about ICDI:
- ICDI has a wide range of pre-built connectors to facilitate the process of building data pipelines.
- As an iPaaS, it’s optimized for app integrations. It is not a real ETL platform.
- ICDI can handle high-volume extract/load operations, but it’s severely limited when it comes to complex transformation workflows.
- Users must pay extra for access to phone-based support.
- It’s a good match for large enterprises that are already using Informatica’s suite of products.
- It could work for smaller organizations that simply want to move data from one place to another without performing sophisticated transformations.
Xplenty is an ETL platform that is so easy to use that any ETL beginner can develop complex data integration pipelines and automated transformation workflows with the platform. Here’s what to remember about Xplenty:
- Xplenty includes a wide range of connectors so you can quickly connect to any source/destination, including the most popular SaaS solutions.
- It offers virtually unlimited scalability to manage massive data volumes.
- It features a powerful data engine and easy-to-use tools to build and manage the most sophisticated transformation workflows.
- A flat-rate pricing model makes the solution affordable and easy to budget for any size company with a serious need for data integration.
- It’s an excellent match for teams that want a more cost-effective, agile IT infrastructure.
Now that you have a better understanding of Informatica vs. Xplenty, we encourage you to give Xplenty a test drive. Once you see how easy it is to develop ETL processes with our platform, we think you’ll never want to struggle with a more complicated solution again.
Sign up for a demo and experience the Xplenty platform for yourself.