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Talend Open Studio

A review of Talend Open Studio ETL software for use in direct marketing business intelligence operations.

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3.5

About Talend Open Studio

Talend Open Studio is part of a suite of ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) tools designed for enabling one to extract diverse datasets, normalize, and transform them into a consistent format which can be loaded into a number of third party databases and applications.

Talend Open Studio is a free version of Talend’s commercial set of tools. It provides a preliminary set of features for managing data, and can work very well as an ETL tool for business intelligence purposes. While their paid product provides a slicker interface, and ability to run it as a cloud service with connections to various SaaS products, a lot can be accomplished with their open source version.

Rather than a single piece of software, Talend Open Studio is a suite of open source tools,. divided into several different components. Combined, they contribute to a somewhat powerful tool that can be used for crunching data into a useable format.

 

The pieces of Talend are:

  • Talend Open Studio for Data Integration

This is the main component for managing almost all ETL processes within Talend, and is the segment of TOS that is most relevant for marketing Business Intelligence purposes.

The other segments of Talend include

  • Talend Open Studio for Big Data: similar to above but for big data datasets
  • Talend Open Studio for ESB (Enterprise Service Bus): designed for managing APIs (SOAP, REST)
  • Talend Open Studio for Data Quality: data visualization tool, interactive charts, with data drill down capability it is mostly an analysis tool
  • Talend Open Studio for MDM (Master data records):a client-server framework for managing data much in the same way as Talend Open Studio for Data Integration, where results can be delivered to a web framework

For the point of this analysis we will be looking at Talend Open Studio for Data Integration. There are a few graphical features within Talend Open Studio, however its strength lies in its ETL functionality. The data integration tools allow loading files in multiple formats, through the use of independent nodes. Nodes have functions such as file loading, data cleanup and normalization, and mapping to databases or into multiple different file formats.

It is important to note that due to the modular nature of Talend Open Studio, installing it and configuring it can take a considerable amount of time, especially since many of the more elaborate features require the use of third-party libraries. Downloading and installing only a few of the modules took the better part of a day.

For the point of this analysis we will be looking at Talend Open Studio for Data Integration. There are a few graphical features within Talend Open Studio, however its strength lies in its ETL functionality. The data integration tools allow loading files in multiple formats, through the use of independent nodes. Nodes have functions such as file loading, data cleanup and normalization, and mapping to databases or into multiple different file formats.

It is important to note that due to the modular nature of Talend Open Studio, installing it and configuring it can take a considerable amount of time, especially since many of the more elaborate features require the use of third-party libraries. Downloading and installing only a few of the modules took the better part of a day.

Features

Talend Open Studio for Data Integration has a number of useful tools which can organize data from a number of file formats and prepare them for various Business Intelligence tools which can be of use to direct mail marketers. It is particularly valuable if you have multiple datasets, such as spreadsheets that need to be normalized and converted into a standard format which can be handled in a central database. It provides a number of features such as automatic identification of data types and potential errors.

 

Graphical conversion tools

Instead of having to go through the lengthy process of manually entering data into a database, Talend Open Studio provides a relatively easy to use graphical tool for mapping the data and transforming it and loading into a database. The tMap module handles most of the transformative processes:

 

img1_5.png

 

Charts

While graphing data visually is not the primary function of Talend Open Studio Data integration, one nice feature is being able to map results into a graphical output, such as a bar chart.

 

img2_4.png

 

Database SCD Tools

For keeping a record of historical changes within a business, it can be helpful to track slowly changing dimensions (SCD). This feature is built in for a number of different databases (listed in the integration section at the end of this article)

 

img3_4.png

 

Extensions

Talend Open Studio provides many methods for converting data into many popular Business Intelligence formats. These include the following

  • Jasper
  • OLAP (Online Analytical Processing), including Mondrian and Palo outputs
  • SPSS
  • Splunk

Summary: Key takeaway

Talend Open Studio for Data Integration can be very useful for direct marketers, as it provides many built-in Business Intelligence tools. By itself, it does not exist as a standalone tool, but it can be very helpful for handling a diverse set of data and converting it into formats that can allow analysis. It can be a very useful Business Intelligence tool in a direct marketer’s toolkit.

As an ETL tool, it provides a fairly intuitive interface, and if one has a rudimentary understanding of data management and analytics, it can be very helpful for extracting data, normalizing it, and then loading it into either a database, or into several useful formats for data visualization.

It can work well with many of the other modules provided in the Talend Open Studio. Its open nature makes it possible to modify if desired. Out of the box, it can be helpful, but to truly realize its benefits, such as cloud hosting, it may become necessary to upgrade to their paid version.

Integrations

Databases

  • MSSQL
  • DB2
  • PostGres
  • Oracle
  • MySQL
  • Sybase
  • Teradata
  • Vertica
  • Greenplum
  • Informix

Wyzoo Star Ratings

Overall functionality useful to a direct marketer
4 /5

Talend Open Studio is very useful for ETL purposes. There are many features for loading, normalizing and loading information into various databases. Once data is organized it can be output into many useful formats for visualization.

Intuitive User Experience
4 /5

Getting used to the different modules may take a little while. It's not immediately obvious which tool handles which functions. It took downloading and experimenting to figure out what it is that each module can do (some of the documentation on the website seems to provide misleading information regarding functionality). However, once in the application, it seems to make sense, at least for some basic tasks. Nodes take a uniform format. Input and Output nodes vary only based on metadata necessary for each file extension. Once familiar with a few types, it’s relatively simple to move from one type to another. The limitations depend on one’s familiarity with the external resources.

Active Support Community
4 /5

Talend has a very active support community. Users seem to be very actively involved in helping provide assistance. Communication with staff, however, seems to be focused on pushing to the paid version, and direct communication found that beyond initial contacts, there were no followup contacts.

Talend Official form:

https://community.talend.com/
111733 posts
“Online Users” - shows people currently logged in. Hovers around 450
Several posts/day
Design and Development appears to be most popular channel w/ over 93,000 posts.

Issues not tracked on Github.
Github:  https://github.com/Talend/tdi-studio-se

Commits:

15260

Contributors:

106

Releases:

197

Watch:

140
Star: 67
Fork: 98
Commits/Contributors: 144

 

Minimal Technical Skill Required
3 /5

While transforming data seems fairly intuitive, this depends considerably on the user's understanding of data structures and databases. However, there are many very useful tutorials and instructions on the site. The help manuals, at least for some functions, go into depth with step-by-step guides for explaining individual functions. While most of the application is code-free, much of the tool is jargon-oriented, with a seemingly endless supply of acronyms. Much of the functionality seems to rely a fairly solid understanding of data-science.

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