As data becomes the foundation of success for so many businesses, the requirement for data literacy becomes ever greater within businesses of all sizes. Unfortunately, it is not feasible for all businesses to employ a team of 50 data engineers to build a state-of-the-art data platform with custom pipelines, connectors, and software to support the whole thing - if data is not your primary business focus, then the core functions must take precedence over data foundations.
However, all is not lost as more emerging data integration platforms can offer a managed service for businesses that lack internal expertise. They take the hard work out of building foundational ETL pipelines to combine data from across the business into a unified repository, such as a data warehouse or data lake.
These platforms offer a customizable solution that can satisfy many typical data needs without needing the expertise to create and maintain the nuts and bolts, that often become so costly.
Two of the leaders in the industry are Stitch and Fivetran. These two titans of ETL offer a plethora of features that can get businesses of all sizes to ingest data into a usable format to provide quick value back to the business in short time frames, without the need for acquiring in-house expertise.
In this article, I’ll be comparing and contrasting the two tools to help you make a decision on whether one of these will help you level up your ETL capabilities!
Stitch: Zero Maintenance Data Pipelines
Stitch, Inc. started its journey in 2016, when it was spun off from RJMetrics. Its primary focus is simplicity - it seeks to offer a simple, developer-friendly platform to move data from various sources into a data warehouse. No more, no less.
After establishing itself as a robust data pipeline solution, Stitch was acquired by Talend, a leader in cloud data integration, in 2018. Since then, it has continued to grow and now provides over 130 integrations.
Stitch takes a more stripped-back approach and focuses on providing a straightforward, easy-to-use platform for developers and businesses to move data from various sources to data warehouses quickly and efficiently.
It’s designed to ingest data and replicate it in your warehouse in a matter of minutes, making data readily available for analytics.
Core Features and Benefits of Stitch
Stitch has a number of features that set it apart from the crowd. Some of these are outlined below:
Data Replication: Stitch's key strength is its efficient data replication from multiple sources, including SaaS platforms, databases, and more. It facilitates moving your data in minutes. Time is money, and if data isn’t the business's main focus then getting insights in the shortest time possible is invaluable.
Schema Change Detection: Stitch automatically detects changes in your data's schema and adjusts accordingly, reducing the manual intervention required. Understanding schemas and data modeling isn’t in most business users’ skillset. Therefore, having automated handling of this is a key benefit.
ETL (Extract, Transform, Load): Stitch provides an easy-to-understand ETL process. It allows you to effectively move data from A to B without the hassle of understanding the bits in between.
Compatibility: As previously mentioned, it has a wide array of integrations, meaning it can fit nicely into any existing infrastructure. It is compatible with various data warehouses like Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, Snowflake, and others, so any path to production should not be too difficult.
Stitch Pricing Model
Stitch offers a free tier that allows for up to 5 million rows of data ingested per month. For businesses with more extensive needs, Stitch has a "Standard Plan" that starts at $100 per month for up to 10 million rows, with additional cost for extra rows ingested. Enterprises with larger requirements can request a custom quote for a plan that fits their specific needs.
Potential Downsides of Stitch
If Stitch sounds like it's right up your street, be aware that (as with anything) there is a balance to be struck. A summary of some of the potential downsides of the tool can be seen below:
Limited Transformation Capabilities: Stitch primarily focuses on data extraction and loading, with fewer capabilities for data transformation compared to some competitors. Its focus is speed and simplicity, so if you are looking to do complex custom logic, then perhaps you should look elsewhere.
Pricing Model: While Stitch’s free tier is a great starting point, costs can escalate quickly for businesses dealing with larger volumes of data. It is potentially a tool more focused on SMEs with lower volumes of data, so if you are a large business be aware that this could incur more costs. You should consider doing a cost-benefit analysis against other tools, or consider building internal expertise.
Fivetran: The Swiss Army Knife of ETL
Founded in 2012 by George Fraser and Taylor Brown, Fivetran began as a Y Combinator-backed startup with the mission to streamline and simplify the data integration process. The founders realized that building reliable data pipelines can be a complex and time-consuming task, so they developed Fivetran to automate data integration end-to-end.
Today, Fivetran supports a plethora of data sources, providing connectors for everything from databases to SaaS applications, and even custom-built applications.
Fivetran is designed to automate all aspects of your data pipeline from connectors and schema changes to data transformations, making it a Swiss Army knife of data integration. Fivetran supports numerous industry-standard data sources and provides connectors for databases, event tracking tools, cloud functions, file storage, and many popular business tools.
Core Features and Benefits of Fivetran
Automated Data Integration: Fivetran's main benefit is fully automated data pipelines, eliminating the need for manual data pipeline maintenance. With fully automated pipelines, you can free up areas of the business to focus on generating value rather than fixing software.
Data Connectors: Fivetran offers a wide variety of pre-built connectors to numerous data sources, including databases, cloud functions, file storage systems, and business tools. This means it will fit easily into any existing architecture, and reduces the need for any custom builds.
Real-Time Data Sync: Fivetran supports real-time data integration, ensuring that a fresh view of the data is always available and no manual triggers need to be set up.
Schema Management: Fivetran automatically adjusts to schema and API changes, thereby minimizing disruptions in your data pipeline.
Fivetran Pricing Model
Much like Stitch Fivetran follows a consumption-based pricing model where you pay based on the volume of data you move to your warehouse each month. They offer a 14-day free trial to get started, so this is a good opportunity to try it out before committing to any costs.
As a more established company, Fivetran will have an experienced team, which can help you get customized enterprise solutions set up to tailor for your needs. This obviously comes with a premium, but it ensures that your solution will be well suited to your needs and your spend will be more efficient.
Certain key features in Fivtran are charges as upgrades, including real-time processing.
Potential Downsides of Fivetran
Much like Stitch, there are some potential downsides to using Fivetran that you may want to consider before opting to use it:
Limited Transformation Capabilities: Like Stitch, Fivetran primarily focuses on the Extract and Load parts of ETL, meaning data transformations are limited.
Pricing Transparency: Fivetran's consumption-based pricing model can be difficult to estimate in advance, and the lack of publicly available pricing information can be a barrier for some potential users. If you are a smaller business with lower capital, it may be risky as costs could vary wildly between months without careful monitoring, making it harder to plan for the year.
Stitch vs Fivetran: Tool Comparison
To pitch these two titans against one another, here’s a direct comparison in some key categories:
|Data Source Compatibility||Offers over 130 data source integrations, including a wide variety of databases and SaaS applications.||Offers a comprehensive list of pre-built connectors for databases, SaaS applications, event tracking tools, cloud functions, and file storages.|
|Data Destination Compatibility||Compatible with several major data warehouses such as Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, and Snowflake.||Supports a broad range of data warehouses, including Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, Snowflake, and others, providing a similar range of options as Stitch.|
|Performance||Efficient data replication with automated schema change detection. However, the transformation capabilities are somewhat limited.||Excels in automated data integration and real-time data sync. Like Stitch, its primary focus is on the Extract and Load parts of ETL, so data transformation capabilities are somewhat limited.|
|Pricing||Offers a free tier (up to 5 million rows per month) and a Standard Plan starting at $100 per month for up to 10 million rows, with additional cost for extra rows ingested and other upgrades.||Follows a consumption-based pricing model. Precise costs can be difficult to predict without contacting their sales team for a personalized quote.|
|Scalability||Provides a reliable and scalable solution that can handle a significant volume of data, though costs can rise quickly for larger data volumes.||Offers fully automated and scalable data pipelines that can handle large volumes of data. However, the consumption-based pricing model may lead to variable costs.|
|User Experience||Known for its user-friendly and straightforward interface, making data integration easy even for non-technical users.||While also user-friendly, Fivetran's interface might require a bit more of a learning curve compared to Stitch. Nevertheless, it is still relatively easy to use once familiar with the platform.|
|Support and Community||Provides responsive customer support and has a strong community.||Offers robust customer support and has an active community. However, some users have reported slower response times compared to Stitch.|
Estuary Flow: A Powerful Alternative
While both of these tools are well established in the industry, there is a new player in the game that can offer a lot of benefits over these tools. Enter Estuary Flow.
Estuary Flow approaches data integration in a somewhat different manner compared to Stitch and Fivetran. While the latter tools focus primarily on the Extract and Load parts of ETL, Flow offers a more comprehensive data transformation layer that allows you to manipulate and refine your data in flight. This means you're not just moving your data from A-B, you're enhancing it along the way and increasing its business value.
Moreover, Flow utilizes a transaction model that ensures data integrity during the transformation process, reducing the risk of data loss or corruption. This added layer of security is invaluable for business-critical production workloads, so you can have more confidence in your data.
Also, Flow's streaming-based architecture is designed for horizontal scalability, making it an excellent choice for workloads of all sizes. This could be beneficial for organizations that anticipate their data volumes growing over time, or those dealing with sizable, fluctuating data workloads. This means that Flow can be a good choice for smaller businesses that may not want a large and expensive enterprise solution or businesses that want to be more dynamic in their workloads. You can find more information on Flow’s simple volume-based pricing model here.
Finally, the collaborative features of Flow empower both technical and non-technical team members to contribute to the data integration process. This makes Flow an excellent option for organizations where data analysts, data engineers, and other user cohorts need to work together on the same data pipelines.
That was a lot of information — I hope you were able to digest some of the key points around the different technologies, and their key benefits. Perhaps you’ve formed an opinion on which tool would best meet your needs.
In the Stitch vs Fivetran competition, while there is a lot of crossover in the benefits and weaknesses, the main decision is around complexity and speed to insight.
Fivetran is slightly less intuitive and requires more setup, but can achieve greater customization in workloads. Stitch, on the other hand, will enable businesses to get up and running with ETL pipelines in minutes.
And Estuary Flow is a great alternative to these tools, offering more in the T aspect of ETL, as well as a potentially more attractive pricing structure for businesses that want to scale horizontally in the future.
To chat more about ETL and how we’re solving other engineering problems at Estuary, come and join us on Slack!