What to look for in a Data Orchestration Tool

What to look for in a Data Orchestration Tool

Graham Girty
Graham Girty

By now, we’ve all been told — perhaps once too often — that data is the new gold. Or the new oil. Or even the new bacon.

It’s not that this sentiment is untrue, of course. The issue is more that, as anyone who has worked in a data-driven business knows, data isn’t actually worth that much — until you transform it into information.

That’s where data orchestration comes in.

Data orchestration is the process of loading and processing data so that it can be accessed by analysts and turned into actionable information. Data orchestration tools access your data wherever it is — in a data warehouse, in your cloud-based tools, in your legacy systems — and transform it into a useable format.

There’s nothing inherently new about ingesting data, but the technology has made some major advances in recent years. Today’s best data orchestration platforms are limber and flexible. They can adapt to a variety of situations and can be easily managed even by people who lack specialized training.

Want to learn more? Read on to get a better understanding of what you should look for in a great data orchestration tool.

1. It’s Fully Hosted

If you’re like most businesses, you probably operate on a hybrid network consisting of various cloud and on-premises components. A cloud-based orchestration tool provides you with a single platform that you can use to manage and automate your workflows — no matter where they take place.

Cloud-based orchestration tools excel at automating tasks and workflows. They can also scale rapidly to keep up with spikes and troughs in demand. Look for a tool that can scale without any trouble. Ideally, it should be able to scale so smoothly that you don’t even need to know what’s happening. That’s the beauty of automation.

2. It’s Intuitive to Learn and to Use

Not everyone on your team is a developer, right? That means you need tools that anyone can learn to use proficiently even if they lack expertise. Whatever you’ve been told, there are data orchestration tools that work beautifully for people with little to no technical background.

Look for a tool that your team will be confident working on. Bear in mind that “confident” means that your employees should be able to tinker with the tool and customize it as necessary without making spending all day on the phone with specialists.

3. It Plays Well with Others

A great data orchestration tool should bring your existing IT infrastructure together and help it function like a well-oiled machine. You should be able to integrate different management systems, import files, and create reports with ease.

You should be able to manage deployments and send out necessary updates from one central location instead of scrambling to make sure that you’ve updated all the different components of your IT network.

4. It’s Ready to Go Right Away

When you buy something, you want to be able to use it right away — not tomorrow, not next week, not who-knows-when you could possibly find the time to get it up and running. Look for a data orchestration tool that doesn’t require laborious infrastructure setups, sifting through hours of documentation, or writing every solution from scratch.

The best choices come with a wide range of templates. The more the better. Your teams should be able to create and share templates across the organization, so that your employees don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel.

5. It Doesn’t Assume You Have Lots of Tech Know-How

Certain orchestration tools make users responsible for managing and maintaining all of their own infrastructure. This is simply inappropriate for many sectors, where most employees don’t have the requisite technical skills to do this in terms of operations.

Don’t let yourself be fooled into buying a system that doesn’t work for your team or requires you to keep calling in your IT staff. Make sure you choose a tool that your employees can operate. This way, your tech team is free to focus on solving more important problems and addressing higher-level issues.

6. It Makes Troubleshooting Easy

Complex projects with multiple steps can lead to roadblocks and require debugging. A data orchestration tool with a rich user interface (UI) makes troubleshooting a breeze. Look for a tool that lets you create and edit workflows visually instead of limiting you to read-only mode.

Ideally, you should have the capabilities to visualize pipelines and monitor progress continually so that you can identify and resolve any issues quickly.

7. It Allows for Flexible Automation

Every workflow is different. The best data orchestration tools make it possible to configure complex processes and integrate applications. Run workflows on demand, on a schedule in the background, or via webhook — depending on your situation — so that you can achieve event-driven processes.

8. It Handles Errors with Grace

You need a tool that’s tough — not a "solution" that crashes your network at the first sign of trouble. Look for an orchestration tool that offers automatic retries, email alerts, and in-depth logging. It's inevitable that things will break, so you need to ensure that the tool you choose can appropriately handle those errors and make your team aware of them immediately.

9. It Keeps Your Data Safe

The best data orchestration tools have granular user management and audit logs baked into the platform. They’ll also encrypt and hide your company's sensitive data, ensuring that your data is never left exposed.

Some orchestration tools put you on the hook for making sure your data orchestration setup is secure. Is having more control over the infrastructure worth the potential of opening your organization up to security risks? We don't think so.

10. It’s Reasonably Priced

You want a platform that combines state-of-the-art technology with an affordable price. With the increase in demand for high-quality data orchestration, that’s actually not too much to ask. Shipyard starts at just $50 per month, and you only pay for what you use.

Other orchestration tools put you on the hook for running your own servers 24/7, even though you'll only be using them less than 20% of the time.

From Shipyard, you’ll also get technical support from a team of experts whenever you run into an issue. Whether you need help navigating a specific feature or getting a script to run, you’ll have experienced pros standing by to help you.

Shipyard: Everything You're Looking For

Now that you know what you're looking for, you can be confident that Shipyard's solution offers everything you need.

Want to know more about how Shipyard’s platform can take your data operations to the next level?

Sign up for our free Developer Plan. With the free plan you can launch powerful workflows to build end-to-end data operations at scale.

About Shipyard:
Shipyard is a modern data orchestration platform for data engineers to easily connect tools, automate workflows, and build a solid data infrastructure from day one.

Shipyard offers low-code templates that are configured using a visual interface, replacing the need to write code to build data workflows while enabling data engineers to get their work into production faster. If a solution can’t be built with existing templates, engineers can always automate scripts in the language of their choice to bring any internal or external process into their workflows.

The Shipyard team has built data products for some of the largest brands in business and deeply understands the problems that come with scale. Observability and alerting are built into the Shipyard platform, ensuring that breakages are identified before being discovered downstream by business teams.

With a high level of concurrency and end-to-end encryption, Shipyard enables data teams to accomplish more without relying on other teams or worrying about infrastructure challenges, while also ensuring that business teams trust the data made available to them.

For more information, visit www.shipyardapp.com or get started with our free Developer Plan.