Tag Archives: Biml

The Data Warehouse Automation Tools Survey Results (Data Warehouse Series)


As you might know, I started a survey on the usage and opinion about Data Warehouse Automation (DWA) Tools.
Today I am presenting the results.
I sincerely want to thank all the participants for sharing your thoughts.

The participants

First some insight into the persons that filled in the survey. You were not with so many (62 completed surveys).

In statistics there is a formula to compute the minimum sample (number of participants) given a certain margin of error, reliability level and total population. If I fill in 10% for error margin, 90% for reliability level and 20000 for total population (this number does not have much impact on the end result) the minimum sample (number of participants) should be 68.
Please note that with 10% error margin and 90% reliability level that there are considerable chances that the answers are not representative for the entire population of data warehouse professionals.

Participants by country

Participants are spread over 23 countries on several continents, with a concentration in the Netherlands and the United States.

Detailed list:

Country No of participants
Argentina 1
Australia 1
Austria 1
Belgium 3
Brazil 1
Bulgaria 1
Denmark 1
Germany 3
Ghana 1
Hungary 1
Iceland 1
India 4
Lithuania 1
Netherlands 20
New Zealand 1
Norway 1
Romania 1
Slovakia 1
Spain 1
Switzerland 3
Turkey 1
United Kingdom 2
United States 10

Jobroles of participants

Almost half of the participants selected Data Warehouse Architect as best describing their current job role.
Furthermore there were 12 ETL developers and a number of other job roles, as shown in the graph.

Exact counts:

Jobrole No of participants
BI & Analytics/Data Science manager 2
BI Consultant 1
Business analyst 1
Data warehouse architect 30
Director 2
ETL Developer 12
Front end BI Developer 1
Manager 1
Multi-disciplined BI Professional 4
Project manager 6
SQL Developer 1

Familiarity with the investigated tools

First question to answer is: how familiar are the respondents with those tools?
I used 5 levels of familiarity with a short name and explanation. The option values have the following meaning:

  1. Don’t know: I do not know this product.
  2. Heard of: I have heard of this product but I have not worked in a project where it was tried or used.
  3. Tried: I have tried this product but not used it in production environments.
  4. Used: I have worked in a project where this product was used.
  5. Using: I am currently working in a project where this product is being used.

The results in a graph:

And the exact figures, first absolute, then percentages:

Issuer – Productname Don’t know Heard of Tried Used Using
AnalytiX DS – CatfX / Data Vault Code Gen Bundle 44 14 3 0 0
Attunity – Attunity Compose (formerly BiReady) 36 21 4 0 1
Gamma Systems – Data Warehouse Studio 55 5 1 0 0
Javlin – CloverETL 51 7 2 1 0
Magnitude – Magnitude Kalido 39 20 1 1 0
Qosqo – Quipu 43 12 3 2 1
TimeXtender – TimeXtender 42 14 3 0 2
Trivadis – biGenius 52 5 1 1 2
Varigence – BimlExpress / Bidshelper 43 3 4 3 8
Varigence – Mist / BimlStudio 46 4 9 1 1
WhereScape – RED 35 10 6 5 5
Average 44,2 10,5 3,4 1,3 1,8
Issuer – Productname Don’t know Heard of Tried Used Using
AnalytiX DS – CatfX / Data Vault Code Gen Bundle 72,1% 23% 4,9% 0% 0%
Attunity – Attunity Compose (formerly BiReady) 58,1% 33,9% 6,5% 0% 1,6%
Gamma Systems – Data Warehouse Studio 90,2% 8,2% 1,6% 0% 0%
Javlin – CloverETL 83,6% 11,5% 3,3% 1,6% 0%
Magnitude – Magnitude Kalido 63,9% 32,8% 1,6% 1,6% 0%
Qosqo – Quipu 70,5% 19,7% 4,9% 3,3% 1,6%
TimeXtender – TimeXtender 68,9% 23% 4,9% 0% 3,3%
Trivadis – biGenius 85,2% 8,2% 1,6% 1,6% 3,3%
Varigence – BimlExpress / Bidshelper 70,5% 4,9% 6,6% 4,9% 13,1%
Varigence – Mist / BimlStudio 75,4% 6,6% 14,8% 1,6% 1,6%
WhereScape – RED 57,4% 16,4% 9,8% 8,2% 8,2%
Average 72,3% 17,2% 5,6% 2,1% 2,9%

I think most remarkable is that most of the tools are not very well known: the answer “Don’t know” is on the average given by 72,3% of the participants.

Product satisfaction

The product satisfaction question gave the insight that there are no ‘bad’ tools. All tools fulfill a need, and the digits go from 3 to 5 (on a scale of 1 to 5). So the products with the lowest mark for satisfaction, still score a ‘C’ (or as we say in the Netherlands, a ‘vijfje’).

Value for money

Value for money is obviously a very subjective matter. What one person thinks is expensive, the other might think of as cheap. Most vendors are not transparent about their prices.
Marks vary from 1,80 to 3,46. What we can conclude from this is that some tools have the perception of a relatively low value for money, while others provide a better value for money, according to the participants of the survey.
The products that have an average score of 3 or higher (again on a scale of 1 to 5) are both Varigence products (BimlExpress/Bidshelper and Mist/BimlStudio), AnalytiX DS (CatfX / Data Vault Code Gen Bundle) and Trivadis (biGenius).

By the way, the question in the survey had the following scale: 1=cheap and 5=expensive. I translated this to a value for money by reversing the answers (so 1 became 5 and vice versa and 2 became 4 and vice versa). In this way, a higher score means a ‘cheaper’ pricing perception, thus a better value for money.

Other tools that were mentioned

A number of other tools were also mentioned, many of them only once or twice.
Remarkable is that also tools that do not meet the “DWA Tool” definition were mentioned, for instance Microsoft BI Products.
What I learned from this is that I should have given a definition of what I meant with a “Data Warehouse Automation Tool”.
From Wikipedia:
“Data warehouse automation or DWA refers to the process of accelerating and automating the data warehouse development cycles, while assuring quality and consistency. DWA is believed to provide automation of the entire lifecycle of a data warehouse, from source system analysis to testing to documentation. It helps improve productivity, reduce cost, and improve overall quality.”

Worth mentioning is the open source tool ODE. I didn’t know it but tried it recently. It’s a sql based, metadata driven tool without graphical user interface, and I could not get an “AdventureWorks” example working due to errors that occurred during working through the example. So I think this tool needs to become more stable or at least should have a better manual on how to use it. But it’s Open Source and that puts a smile on my face.
From a company/human resources perspective, working with such a tool can however lead to a hidden cost because using it can be more laborious than working with a commercial, ‘more stable’ product. And once you start changing the source code (for yourself or your company, not as member of the Open Source Development team) you can’t upgrade to newer versions anymore and are stuck with the maintenance of your copy of the tool. And if you join the Open Source Team you are now doing two projects instead of one!
In the Netherlands we have an old-fashioned saying “Bezint eer gij begint” which means “think well before you start”, and I think this is applicable here as well. A license for a commercial tool might be worth the money.

What also appears to be the case, that a number of those tools are not for sale, but are tools that consultancy firms use for doing projects.

List of all the other tools that were mentioned:

Issuer – Productname Mentions
Adante – Datawarehouse on Demand 1
Automic – One Automation 2
Birst – Birst 1
Centennium – TBD engine (template based development) 1
Cubido – Cubikit 1
DIKW – DHW Accelerator 1
Grip Op Data B.V. – GDIP 1
Infent – Infenture Insight 1
Informatica – Powercenter 2
Informatica – B2b data exchange 1
Informatica – Informatica 1
Informatica – MFT 1
I-refact – I-refactory 1
Kadenza – Smart Datawarehouse generator 1
Microsoft – MSBI(SSIS,SSAS,SSRS) 9
Microsoft – Power BI 1
Optimalbi Limited – ODE (Open source) 1
Oracle – ODI 1
Oracle – OWB 1
Own build – Excelbased tool 1
Pentaho – Kettle 2
Pentaho – Big Data 1
Rabobank – Foundation Toolkit 1
SAP – Data Services 2
SAP – Information Steward 1
Tableau – Server 1
Talend – Data Fabric 1
Talend – Open Studio 1
TopBi – Data Vault Generator 1
TopBI – HSG 1
Varigence – BimlFlex 1
Varigence – BimlOnline 1
Viz Analytics – Data Warehouse Studio 1

Comments given about all the tools

Participants could give their opinion about the tools in free text format – and they did!
Here are just the bare comments.

Attunity – Attunity Compose (formerly BiReady)
  • “Like features, makes work flow easily “
Qosqo – Quipu
  • “This one could be split up between the free and paid variant for this research.”
  • “Most advanced options on data vault modeling and generation in one tool. Does not support data marts, requires Groovy knowledge to change templates.”
TimeXtender – TimeXtender
  • “vendor lock-in, no best practices applied when generating SSAS cubes”
  • “lock in, very good features, easy to use (even for business users)”
Trivadis – biGenius
  • “if they extend SSIS generation no lock in, very flexibel, fast, cool”
  • “No Vendor-Lock (generated Code can be scheduled and executed native), Microsoft and Oracle-Support, Data Vault Support”
  • “Integrated product, short learning curve, easy to adapt”
Varigence – BimlExpress / Bidshelper
  • “Great to building SSIS packages.”
  • “Free, but you need to write the generating code first. Ideal for consultants though.”
  • “Nice combination, but needs to mature.”
  • “no lock in, very cool that you generate SSIS/SSAS, free, a lot of work coding, not for everyone”
  • “Very flexible, but long learning curve”
  • “Second best tool to generate SSIS packages. Requires a lot of exceptions if you want to alter parts of code for specific tables. Debugging is hell.”
Varigence – Mist / BimlStudio
  • “Has potential but is progressing slowly. Pricing is fair.”
  • “No vendor lock-in, as the result of BIML are just SSIS packages”
  • “More mature version.”
  • “easier, expensive, nice you can easily re-engineer from existing DWH”
  • “There is no reverse engineering module.We can not convert old package to use BimlStudio”
  • “Very flexible”
  • “Best tool to generate SSIS packages. Still requires a lot of manual labor for low level changes.”
WhereScape – RED
  • “We were able to increase development speed with a factor 3. “
  • “Vendor-Lock (needs App-Server for Scheduling, Processing), Microsoft not fully supported (only Beta), Data Vault Support”
  • “Creates stored procedures which clutters db’s, powerful tool, but has some annoyances”
  • “Several products which are not completely integrated, some features not “ready”, several limitations (especially when working with datasets, expensive for what you get, only based overseas (except smalll base in UK)”
  • “You have to click and type almost everything, then it “generates” a stored procedure. Also stores its repository in the same database and schema as your data warehouse.”
  • “Changed projects into initiatives enabling business analytics. “
  • “Like lineage, like support for multiple generation types (such as data vault), dislike performance, dislike excessive storage, dislike cost of consulting, dislike unreliability, dislike UI, dislike lack of adapters, dislike reliance on database procedures, dislike scheduler, dislike target specific repository”

Comments for other tools (not all available for sale)

Adante – Datawarehouse on Demand
  • “Very easy to use automation tool for Dimensional modeling”
Centennium – TBD engine (template based development)
  • “SQL server based metadata based staging, vault en datamart generator. Developed by Centennium, for the larger part made adult by me.”
I-refact – I-refactory
  • “A very solid, well thought solution for the data management. It’s not just for dwh, but for the whole data platform of your company.”
Kadenza – Smart Datawarehouse generator
  • “Model driven generator c-sharp”
Talend – Data Fabric
  • “Talend is a very friendly for completing complex operations like Data Integration, Data Quality and Big Data (towards Hadoop) with minimum programming skills”
Viz Analytics – Data Warehouse Studio
  • “Custom built from the ground up, with own ETL engine, very quick to build and implement DWs.”

Used technologies

One of the questions was about the technology that is being used (from Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics). As more than one answer was allowed, the total number of responses is more than the number of participants, because some participants use two or more technologies.
In the Top 5 we see: Microsoft, Oracle, Tableau, SAP and Qlik. To be honest, nothing that surprises me.

Technology Mentions
Alteryx 7
Birst 3
Board International 3
Datameer 3
IBM 11
Information Builders 3
Microsoft 47
MicroStrategy 7
Oracle 25
Pentaho 6
Qlik 13
SAP 16
Sisense 1
Tableau 20
TIBCO Software 2
Yellowfin 1
Zoomdata 1

Conclusion / Wrap up

With this survey I tried to give the business intelligence community more insight into the available Data Warehouse Automation Tools.
Due to the low number of participants, conclusions come with large uncertainty margins. I think this is a pity.
Nevertheless this investigation could be good starting point for further analysis on DWA Tools or a DWA Tool selection.

(c) 2017 hansmichiels.com – Do not steal the contents – spread the link instead – thank you.

Free download: Blog Yearbook 2016

I have made a compilation of all my blog posts of the past year, and it was more work than you would think.
Especially because it also contains a non-published new article.

After filling in the form you can download the e-book for free.

    I promise you the following:

    • I will not give or sell your email address to any third party.
    • I will not spam you.
    • If I start with a newsletter, you can easily unsubscribe or change the frequency.

    (c) 2016 hansmichiels.com – Do not steal the contents – spread the link instead – thank you.

    11 Things you should know about Biml – an overview (Datawarehouse Series)

    Intended audience and purpose of this post

    This post gives an overview of a number products and features related to Biml on a high level.
    Therewith it is a starting point for further learning and investigating.


    Biml means Business Intelligence Markup Language.
    What else do you need to know about it, if you are a professional worker in the business intelligence and data warehouse domain?


    11 Things you should know about Biml – an overview

    1. Who invented Biml?
    2. What is Biml?
    3. What are BimlExpress and BIDS Helper?
    4. What is BimlScript?
    5. What is BimlFlex?
    6. What are Mist and BimlStudio?
    7. What are BimlBundles?
    8. What are BimlTransformers?
    9. Is the free part of Biml a way to get me addicted to it?
    10. How do I know that Biml is a proven technology that is going to stay?
    11. Where can I find more information on the internet?

    1. Who invented Biml?

    Biml and all tools around it is created by Varigence, a company with CEO Scott Currie, a former Microsoft Employee.

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    2. What is Biml?

    Biml – the markup language – is an XML dialect to describe Microsoft SSIS Packages and SSAS Cubes.
    Everything you can do with SSIS, you can do with Biml (quote of Scott Currie, done during the Biml usergroup NL kickoff on May 7, 2016).
    The goal of Biml is to improve productivity of Data warehouse development.
    But the biml ‘ecosystem’ consists of more than only the Markup Language. Other components are:

    • Biml Script
    • BimlExpress and BIDS Helper
    • BimlFlex
    • BimlStudio (also/formerly known as Mist)
    • BimlBundles
    • BimlTransformers

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    3. What are BimlExpress and BIDS Helper?

    BimlExpress and BIDS Helper both are Add-ins for Business Intelligence Development Studio (actually the Visual Studio version with the project types needed for Business Intelligence).
    BimlExpress is the successor of BIDS Helper and one of it biggest advantages is syntax highlighting and intellisense.
    It is really worth checking them out, because they can improve your productivity, especially when you use metadata and design patterns for SSIS packages.
    You can download and install BimlExpress. You have to register but can use the product at no cost.

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    4. What is BimlScript?

    BimlScript is what makes Biml (the markup language) even more interesting. With BimlScript you can write .NET Code (C#) and do all kind of interesting stuff, like accessing your metadata, using for each loops, and generate SSIS packages using a design pattern.
    I have generated packages to load dimensions of a star schema, and I intend to blog about it later this year in more detail.

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    5. What is BimlFlex?

    BimlFlex is a datawarehouse automation framework of Varigence. It can greatly improve productivity when building data warehouses.
    It uses Predefined patterns for data warehouse automation and Extension Points that you can use to change the standard automation patterns on certain ‘change points’, or can build exceptions for the pattern of this one very special table.
    BimlFlex is part of BimlStudio and therefore a commercial (paid) product.

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    6. What are Mist and BimlStudio?

    Mist and BimlStudio are the same tool. BimlStudio is just the new name, due to strange associations with the “Mist” name in different languages, for example in German (What does the German word “Mist” mean?). This is why they changed the name.
    Also the names for all products and techniques associated with Biml now start with Biml, which makes them more recognizable.
    BimlStudio has a number of extra features when compared with BimlExpress.
    BimlStudio is a paid product, you can buy a perpetual license or a monthly subscription.


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    7. What are BimlBundles?

    BimlBundles are part of BimlStudio and protect your source code while your customer still can make changes at framework extension points.
    Koos van Strien did a very good job at explaining BimlBundles in more detail here.

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    8. What are BimlTransformers?

    With BimlTransformers you can define and store changes on Biml code, instead of changing the Biml code itself. If you have worked with Visual Studio/.NET before, you can compare it with changes you make for your config file for different environments.
    Koos van Strien did a very good job at explaining BimlTransformers in more detail here.

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    9. Is the free part of Biml a way to get me addicted to it?

    Nope. Although Varigence works sales model is a Fremium model (a free product that can be extended/enhanced with paid products), the promise of Scott Currie, done during the Biml usergroup NL kickoff on May 7, 2016, is that all features that are released for free will stay for free. You can count on that.

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    10. How do I know that Biml is a proven technology that is going to stay?

    Biml already exists for about 8 years and has proven itself already. Varigence is a global player and steady company that does not suddenly disappear. I am not concerned if Biml will exist 10 years from now, and you should not have to be either. Even in the utterworst case, you would still have the SSIS packages that Biml has generated for you, and you can edit/maintain them without Biml.

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    11. Where can I find more information on the internet?

    To read more about Biml, here are a few interesting web sites, blog posts and Linked In Usergroups:

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    Conclusion / Wrap up

    Biml is here to stay and adds a lot of value, even if you use only the free parts of it. Varigence can only be praised for that.
    In this blog post I shortly described a number of products and techniques that are part of the Biml ‘ecosystem’.
    I do not have a commercial interest in promoting Biml, I am just a Business Intelligence Consultant who likes Biml a lot.

    (c) 2016 hansmichiels.com – Do not steal the contents – spread the link instead – thank you.