SSIS Review

Integrates well with other solutions in our on-premise data warehouse

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for data warehousing.

We are using the on-premise deployment model.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution allows us to be repeatable in the sense of how we move data from A to B. It is easily scheduled and integrates well with SQL Server and SQL Server Agent jobs. We also use it with Microsoft BizTalk, and it's quite handy.

What is most valuable?

We use everything in this solution, including a third party component called COZYROC. We try to explore and use this product to its fullest.

What needs improvement?

The login process needs improvement. At the moment, when you run SSIS and it's logging on SysTD within the server itself, I think that you have the option to do verbose and a couple of others. Sometimes, it is difficult to follow how executions are actually working. They are just one after another with an execution set. If you're running multiple packages at the same time, it's difficult to track which packages are running and to locate those specifically.

Improving the login procedure would make our reporting easier on monitoring our ETL processes.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for approximately eleven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is very good. I've been using it for a long time. If you know how to use it then it works fairly well.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is fairly good. I've used it from very, very small instances to two very large ones, where we're moving large quantities of data on a daily basis.

The actual tool itself, in a sense of transformations, your ability to pick and look up and do certain things is fairly good. Scalability, you can either have it on the same server as the database or you can move it onto its own server. It just depends on the situation.

If you've got a heavy load on the database during the day and you're doing SSIS then you have the option to separate them. But as in our case, which is a data warehouse, you can keep them on the same server because you're getting a lot of your batch processes overnight. So, most of the resources are being used by SSIS. Then during the day, you have the users using the database server for reporting or data capture or data inserts and data updates.

Our users for this solution are primarily BI developers, and we have twenty to twenty-five of them, mostly offshore.

If we grow here then we'll need more SSIS servers, or we'll get bigger boxes. At the moment, I think that we're where we need to be, and I don't have any plans moving forward at this stage.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not had to contact Microsoft technical support. We tend to be able to solve most of the issues that crop up with SSIS, which I suppose is another reason why we have it. If there are issues then we can fix them pretty quickly.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Prior to this solution, before 2005, we used DTS. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is part of the DBA's role, and I did not involve myself in this installation. However, I have done it before. To set up a SysTD is pretty straightforward, and it can be configured to your own company ETL framework.

The length of time required for deployment depends on how good your DBAs are. Some of them take quite a while because they have to install, configure, and then do some test runs. Then all of the permissions, etc, have to be taken care of. Some of these things are easy and some of them are difficult. I would say that it will take a least a week. 

We have five people maintain this solution at the moment. We have the DBAs on standby before we do any sort of deployment to UAT or production.

What about the implementation team?

We handled the implementation with our in-house DBAs.

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

When you purchase SQL Server, SSIS tends to come with it. Whether you purchase the standard edition or an enterprise edition, SSIS comes with it. Whether you choose to install it on a separate server, or the same server as the database, that really comes down to Microsoft's charging.

My advice is to look at what your configuration will be because most companies have their own deals with Microsoft.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other products before choosing this solution. However, in the last couple of years, I have researched a few others. One of these solutions looks good, but I'm not sure how well it would be in a data warehouse situation.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is considering this solution is to install the trial version first. You can get the SQL development edition, which pretty much has everything the enterprise edition has. You can download it, put it somewhere and use it as a development or testing area. Then, if you like it, look to purchase it.

We're looking to move more to the cloud at some point. I don't know when, but we'll be doing more research before we do.

Overall, I think for what this solution does, it's pretty much all there. I don't see any way or any changes that can be made to make it work faster, or easier. I know the tool inside out, so we know what to do with it.

The other solutions that I have looked at appear to be very good in certain situations. These are good for specific information, for situations that cover everything. With SSIS, it is specific to SQL and what we do, but it's lacking in some things like logging. Monitoring itself, for example, is what is missing.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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