WhereScape RED Review

Automation, Automation, Automation...


What is most valuable?

Automation, Automation, Automation....

Automation of Data Warehouse Tasks - Traditional ETL tools are a one-size-fits-all solution. They can often be like a programming language--you can do anything you could ever imagine, but you have to manually create each and every instruction. This leads to a total lack of agility because you have to manually create each and every step. WhereScape, on the other hand, is meant for the specific task of building data warehouses. The product takes on much of the painful, time-consuming, manual and repetitive tasks, allowing you to focus on meeting business requirements.

Automation of Documentation - This is perhaps the best feature of the product. Based on your design, it creates two sets of documentation--one for your technical teams and one for end-users--which show the data model, metadata, and just about anything else you’d want to know about the model.

Impact Analysis - During the lifetime of a data warehouse, there is regularly a need to enhance and extend the warehouse, but it can often be difficult to understand how changes will impact other things downstream. In WhereScape, you can simply click on an object and perform an impact analysis to see how changes to that object will impact other objects. You can also do the reverse of this, looking at an object and “tracking back” to see what objects are used to build it.

Code Runs on the Database - When you build objects in WhereScape (through a point-and-click GUI), the product automatically generates target-specific code. So, for instance, if your target platform is SQL Server, it will generate T-SQL stored procedures for updating your warehouse objects. When jobs are run, this code gets executed on the target database. This essentially means that the ETL is serverless. You do not need a massively sized ETL server to handle the ETL code because it’s simply code being handled by the database, which in my experience, is much more efficient.

How has it helped my organization?

We are able to build data models much faster than previously and much faster than using a traditional ETL tool. It allows us to focus on the most important aspect of a data warehouse--business requirements--instead of focusing on the low-level details of the development platform.

What needs improvement?

As with any product, there are things that can be improved, but most are fairly minor, including things like greater flexibility in ordering job tasks. I’d also like to see increased support for NoSQL data sources.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the product for about 5 months.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

None yet. Because there is no server component, other than a lightweight job scheduler, it’s really just the installation of the software and some basic initial setup. Couldn’t be easier.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No.

How is customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Very good customer service. Kind, helpful, and knowledgeable.

Technical Support:

This is another area where WhereScape shines. They are not a huge organization, so you get very prompt and personalized care. My support tickets are always answered very quickly and they listen to my suggestions. And, perhaps most importantly, their support team knows the product inside and out. You will not deal with inexperienced first-level support techs.

They also made experts available to help us quickly answer any questions about best practices, how to accomplish specific tasks, etc.

Which solutions did we use previously?

Our purchase of WhereScape was part of a larger re-architecture of our data warehouse. We chose to move away from other products for a variety of reasons, but our choice of WhereScape was largely based on its ability to speed up the development process through automation.

How was the initial setup?

As noted previously, the software generates database code for the target platform and runs that code on the database server itself, so it’s very lightweight. The only components are 1) Client Software and 2) A Lightweight Scheduler. The installation of these two components is very quick and easy.

What about the implementation team?

In-house, although we did get some help from their professional services group, largely for advice on best practices, how to handle complex data transformations, etc. The team is very knowledgeable and seems to have answers to just about every complex question we could think of.

What was our ROI?

Probably a bit too early to report on this but we expect a good ROI.

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

The product is much less expensive than traditional ETL tools. Licensing is very simple to understand.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes, we looked at various traditional ETL packages as well as other Data Warehouse automation tools. We chose WhereScape over traditional ETL for reasons noted previously and chose WhereScape over other automation tools because it appeared to be the most mature of these solutions.

What other advice do I have?

As other reviewers have noted, data warehouse automation requires you to change your thinking and perspective somewhat. If you are looking at this product as a simple replacement for your existing ETL and try to use it exactly the way you used ETL, then you will not fully realize the functional benefits (the cost benefits will still be there though). You need to think more in terms of agile data warehouse design. For those new to this concept, I recommend a book called “Agile Data Warehouse Design: Collaborative Dimensional Modeling, from Whiteboard to Star Schema” by Lawrence Corr and Jim Stagnitto. WhereScape fits very nicely into the concepts presented in the book.

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