IT Management Articles

Xplenty Review – Data Integration on the Cloud

by Stephanie Miles
Published on 26 May 2014

Xplenty Review - Businesses can save both time and money when they start using Xplenty to take advantage of big data

For too long, small and mid-size companies have been scared away from doing their ETL with Hadoop-the open-source software project that facilitates the distribution of processed data sets across clusters of servers-out of concerns over both complexity and cost. Although Hadoop is free, the costs associated with buying and setting up the required infrastructure can be incredibly high for organizations without dedicated IT teams already in place. That's why Xplenty, Data Integration-as-a-service, was introduced. The cloud-based service makes data integration easy and enables companies of all sizes to take advantage of big data sets.Xplenty allows companies to acquire, process and transform data with a hadoop powered engine, and something more

In this Xplenty review, I will go through the basics of Xplenty and describe what makes the software-as-a-service product different from other big data software. I will also describe the benefits of using Xplenty, and walk readers through the user interface for a thorough understanding of what the service can provide.

Xplenty Review - About the Company

Xplenty was founded by data professionals, for data professionals. The platform was designed so the user can prepare data for analysis as quickly and easily as possible. Their data integration on the cloud utilizes all of the strengths of Hadoop, allowing users to process structured and semi-structured data in a user-friendly environment, enabling them to make an immediate positive impact on their business.

Hadoop is a free, open-source project, but the costs of buying and setting up the infrastructure, training network and data teams on the new technologies, and hiring consultants are unjustifiably high for many organizations. The platform makes Hadoop cost effective to deploy and maintain.

Main Functionality of Xplenty

Xplenty, Data Integration-as-a-service, takes structured and semi-structured data and turns it into real world business insights. The service makes it easy for businesses to deal with data on their own terms. Users can design packages, provision clusters, run "jobs," and get access to the results of those "jobs" in real-time. As data requirements grow over time, the service can seamlessly scale to petabytes if necessary.

The first step for any new user is creating a package, which involves selecting one or more data sources, as well as each of the data transformation components that are available out of the box to transform data into meaningful information. Once users select their destinations, their packages are "ready to process." Based on the specifications that a user has entered, Xplenty can provision clusters immediately. Hadoop clusters are groups of machines, or nodes, that are allocated exclusively to a user. Xplenty's elastic capacity model allows users to choose the types of clusters they want based on how many nodes they need, and enables users to "start small and expand" when they aren't exactly sure what their capacity requirements are.

Xplenty monitors clusters and tracks the status and execution of jobs, along with data storage activity. All the information a user needs about his or her data is available through Xplenty. The service even takes it one step further by notifying users when errors have prevented their jobs from going through.

Benefits of Using Xplenty

Xplenty gives its users a hassle-free way to utilize Hadoop for their ETL without having to write any code. The company's GUI-based platform is straightforward enough that it can be implemented without hiring extra IT staffers or investing in additional technological infrastructure. By relying on a graphical interface and SQL terminology, Xplenty has created a system that anyone can get up and running in mere minutes-and without having to download or install anything new.

Automated server configuration is important to organizations that don't have the time or the money to spend downloading software at workstations and dealing with server installations. Xplenty is also attractive to businesses because its cloud-based platform requires no maintenance on the user's behalf. Instead, businesses can focus on what's really important, which is the data they're processing. As needs grow over time, Xplenty is able to scale with ease. Instant cluster provisioning ensures that the platform can scale with no server reconfiguration.

The Basics: What Does the Interface Look Like?

Xplenty's "Quick Start Guide" makes it easy for new users to begin taking full advantage of the service. Just follow the steps outlined in the guide, or read through Xplenty's documentation for more detailed startup information.

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Xplenty's quick start guide

Before Xplenty can process your data and store the output, you'll need to define your connections. Assuming your source data lives on a cloud storage service, like Amazon S3 or SoftLayer Object Storage, you'll want to click on the associated link and select the specific type of connection you want to make. If your source data lives in a database, like MySQL, then you can click on a separate database connection link. The process for connecting Xplenty remains very similar.

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Setting cloud storage connections

One of the main features of Xplenty's platform is the easy to use package designer. It's here that you design your data flows with predefined components like "Select", "Join", "Filter", "Assert", "Aggregate", and more. You also choose the sources and destinations that you previously defined.

Xplenty-data-flow

Click on "My Clusters" to create your first Hadoop cluster. Select the size of your cluster, knowing that the more computer nodes are running, the more parallel processing power you have. Once you're finished creating a cluster, you can run jobs either from packages you've designed or provided templates. Clusters remain allocated to your account unless you request to terminate them.

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My clusters window

Support Information

Xplenty's extensive support services include a series of FAQ articles, a detailed knowledge base, and documentation. Users are encouraged to participate in Xplenty's Community Site, powered by UserVoice, where they can leave feedback or connect with support representatives one-on-one.

Pricing Information

Xplenty's 14-day free trial includes a sandbox cluster, which allows prospective users to test their own data flows before signing up for paid plans. After that time, Xplenty offers three levels of paid pricing plans, which range in price from $99 to $1,299, depending on your cloud provider.

Xplenty Review - The Bottom Line

Businesses can save both time and money when they start using Xplenty to take advantage of big data. The service is perfect for organizations that have want an easy way to handle their data integration with Hadoop, butfear that the open-source software project is too complicated or time consuming to use. Just as importantly, Xplenty integrates with a number of popular business applications and services, and it fits seamlessly into typical business workflows.

Ratings: ease of use 5/5, features 5/5, value 5/5


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