These days, organizations deal with a massive influx and outflow of data. The unprecedented amount of information that businesses of all types handle on a daily basis has made the need for extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes more vital than ever before. The three components of the ETL process are characterized as follows:
- Extraction: During this phrase, data is brought out of the various originating systems that an organization is using. In many ways, this is the most important process, and potentially the most complex. That's because oftentimes businesses will be leveraging different source systems that contain unique and separate data formats. When you have source data that encompasses formats as varied as XML and relational databases, for example, how can you unify it in a meaningful way? This is the challenge that is borne out of the extraction phase. The solution is for the extraction period to include a conversion that ensures that all data is channeled into a singular format that will optimize it for transit.
- Transform: The best way to think of the transformation phase is the stage during which rules are applied. Or, if you prefer to look at it another way, it's a period of refinement. In this stage, the extracted data from disparate sources is subjected to a set of rules aimed at cleaning it up, removing any extraneous information, and guaranteeing that only the right data moves forward on the journey to the target. Among the many functions that may occur in the transformation stage are sorting, aggregation, encoding, and pivoting. This is the phase that really brings order to information, thereby preparing it for the final phase: loading.
- Loading: Now that the once-disparate information has been gathered together in a streamlined way and refined, it's time to load the data into a warehouse or repository. There is some variance in this stage, since it's largely dependent on exactly what the loading destination is for a particular organization. However, the basic principle underlying loading is the same across the board: it involves data being filtered into the destination based on a pre-determined set of organizational principles.
Harnessing Informatica—And Going Deeper
When it comes to ETL, businesses need to decide on a service to help them facilitate the process. For this task, many enterprises opt for Informatica. The reason is simple: Informatica provides a host of tools to make ETL a smooth and successful process for a diverse range of users. Within the realm of ETL, Informatica is known for its ability to simplify the process, giving IT organizations a large amount of flexibility and control in their carrying out of ETL processes.
Informatica plays a huge role in making ETL function optimally for companies, but it's not all that organization need to ensure the process goes smoothly. This was something that a business discovered when it leveraged Informatica for ETL purposes. After rolling out Informatica for ETL, the organization found that its ETL processes were still taking a very long time—10.5 hours, in fact—when the business would have preferred to be around the two-hour mark for such processes.
This problem didn’t involve a question of Informatica's efficacy. On the contrary, Informatica was doing exactly what it was programmed to do. But as the organization discovered, Informatica's function—data moving—was only part of the equation as far as efficient ETLs were concerned. The other element was scheduling, a function that lies outside of Informatica's offerings and core competencies. Scheduling—or the lack thereof—plays a big role in data flow. In the case of this business, for instance, the organization's lack of a scheduling solution meant that data wasn't flowing out of the business and to its target in a coordinated, streamlined fashion. Without this scheduling in place, it was impossible for the ETL solution to succeed to its fullest extent.
Moving Forward with Enterprise Job Scheduling for Informatica
Getting the most out of your Informatica implementation means becoming fully prepared on the job scheduling front. For this reason, to the business whose ETLs were taking more than 10 hours, Informatica representatives suggested the addition of a third-party job scheduling solution. This is when the business found Automate Schedule. Automate Schedule works to automate workflows across various applicationss and platforms. In terms of job scheduling, the software provides users with a high level of managerial control and visibility into all the processes happening on an enterprise system.
Automating processes from a central console takes something that was once cumbersome—job scheduling—and turns it into a well-oiled, highly efficient process. Automate Schedule is a tool that perfectly relates to ETL, since it significantly cuts down the administrative overhead involved in preparing workflows for the ETL process. Of course, the ability of Automate Schedule to integrate with Informatica doesn't hurt, either: Automate Schedule has the seal of approval both for Informatica PowerCenter and Informatica Cloud.
For the business that was experiencing slow ETLs, they found the adoption of Automate Schedule to be very transformative. This positive impact started from the very beginning, when the manager was surprised to discover that the rolling out of Automate Schedule occurred in only a three-day window. Similar solutions, he pointed out, would have eaten up at least one week of rollout time. Before its adoption of Automate Schedule, the company had been facing a staffing challenge. Simply put, the manager knew the business did not have the in-house workforce to meet the maintenance needs of a traditional scheduling solution—or of manual scheduling. But with its automating capacities and expertly crafted, easy-to-use web browser interface, Automate Schedule is no traditional solution—it’s an exceptional one. This is something the business discovered when it was able to drive down processing times significantly.
"We support a tremendous amount of data processes and need to be sure that data loads are complete by 6:00 p.m.," said the business' data warehouse and reporting services manager. "Staff used to stay until midnight to launch successive jobs. They had to wait for one process to finish before kicking off the next one. Now Automate Schedule manages the schedule and we save four to five hours a day and get everything finished on time."
Ready to start scheduling your Informatica workflows using Automate Schedule? Explore our sandbox environment or start a free 30-day trial to see the value of enterprise job scheduling made easy.