IBM InfoSphere DataStage Review

Powerful, reliable and the ability to run it in parallel mode makes it very fast


What is our primary use case?

We are a consultancy company, so we are not using DataStage for our own purposes. We deploy it for our customers. We use it to supply data integration and data warehousing solutions based on the specific needs of clients.

How has it helped my organization?

The product has improved our organization by allowing us to provide the product to clients as a reliable data management solution.

What is most valuable?

The product is a very powerful data management tool and the ability to run it in the parallel mode makes it very, very fast. I would say that the ability to use parallel mode would be one of the most valuable features.

What needs improvement?

The features that could be better starts with the user interface. It has been getting better in the last releases and in the past few years, and I guess that they will continue to make progress on this front. But even with the improvements that they have made, it could be even better now, and really should be. I think it's a little bit difficult to use because of the interface. Being user-friendly is important for any product and they need to make this adjustment.

In addition to improvements in the base user interface, I would say it would be good to incorporate more interface options for cloud-based systems.

For how long have I used the solution?

The organization has been using this solution for about 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is very stable. The stability enhances the fact that it is powerful and fast, so it is a reliable solution with good performance.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I feel that the product has excellent scalability. We currently have more than 15,000 users as clients worldwide and scalability has never presented as an issue. It's used in the U.S., in Asia, and in Europe, so it seems to perform in various markets satisfactorily.

It's an enterprise-enabled product, so with that designation, it really needs to be scalable to satisfy the needs of clients — and those needs change all the time. It has the ability to connect reliably to a lot of sources and this is a very, very important thing for people who are using it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We do have some experience with technical support and customer services. We have access to the IBM software hotline, which is normal for IBM.  They work with the FTS (Follow the Sun) support model which means they are available 24/7. The availability is good and the response is as well. I would say it is good support.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of the product is straightforward. The first deployment may be more complex in one case than another. It depends on the complexity of the processes an organization is building and what they need to consider in future planning. Normally you can install it without much trouble and have your first processes live within a few days.

After that, the project is ongoing and it becomes more complex as you build it out. Normally everything does not have to be in place from the beginning as the solution may be deployed to solve new or future issues. In other words it is not replacing something that is already functioning, it is providing something new. As you build out, you get more processes going and the setup becomes more complex. But the initial setup is quite simple.

What about the implementation team?

We do the deployment with our own team for the client, but the implementation can change depending on the client needs. When the client has specific things that need to be resolved for their situation or they want to install and to implement additional products to integrate with the base solution, that affects the rollout. It's especially true during the implementation stage. The implementation team can begin with as little as one person and it can end up as a team of five, six, or seven members depending on complexity and needs for rapid deployment. It also depends on whether the product is going to be used throughout the company. There are a lot of customers who deploy globally or selectively because they may have a strategy already in place for certain solutions that they may not want to change. For example, they may already have ETL processes being used without DataStage and it may not make sense to convert these processes.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is very difficult to say how much the product costs because there are variables depending on the configuration. Normally it's priced according to use, so the price can vary quite a lot. The more you use, the more you pay.

In comparison to other products, I would say it's not so expensive as Informatica, but it is intended to be an enterprise solution so it's not very cheap to deploy as products that are not enterprise solutions.

The products we offer are really very different in pricing compared to open-source products. With open-source you have only the maintenance cost. For the software products we use, you have to invest in the software and then the maintenance costs are in addition to that.

There are no other costs in addition to the standard licensing fee and the maintenance. With IBM, you typically pay for the licenses and the first 12 months of maintenance is included in that cost. Afterward, you pay for the maintenance year-to-year.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We currently also use PowerCenter from Informatica as a solution for some clients. It isn't really a previous solution or a solution we evaluated and discarded but it is one that we sometimes use instead of DataStage. It depends on the needs of our customers.

The decision on which product to pick has partly to do with what the client wants to do and what we believe is the better solution for them and their needs. We have some projects where we use PowerCenter simply because our customer wants to use it; we have other projects where we use DataStage because of some of these customers are already using DataStage or they prefer it because it is from IBM.

In a similar way, we sometimes use Microsoft Integration Services, which is a very small part of our business. But again it isn't so much that we evaluated the solution and dismissed it or switched from using it. These products are opportunities for us to choose between in order to provide the best solution for clients. We evaluate the options and choose the best fit for the project.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this particular product as a nine out of ten. It is very powerful and very fast, but the problems with the interface make it less than perfect.

As far as other advice that I would have for other people considering this as a solution, the first and most important is to examine your needs and decide on the processes you want to build. From that, you can immediately have a better idea of the type of solution that might be best for you. Then it is a good idea to get the advice of a consultant — like us.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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