Your evaluation guide to navigating
the top data catalogs
Organizations are struggling to manage the vast amounts of data they accumulate, and one solution is the implementation of a data catalog, which is a centralized repository for metadata that describes an organization's available data assets.
At Secoda, we believe that modern data teams need more than just a data catalog. A data catalog should be but a component within a larger Data Enablement Platform that provides an easy way for data teams to maintain data products and make it accessible for business stakeholders. Our mission is to reduce the burden on data teams to ensure that business decisions are powered by the most accurate information available.
One question that often arises when considering data catalogs is whether to choose a commercial solution or an open-source option. Choosing an open source solution may seem like a cost-effective option at first, but it requires significant resources, including time, money, and expertise, to design and implement a system that meets your organization's needs.
This guide compares the needs of modern data teams against open source tools to help organizations find the best solution to meet their specific needs based six key criteria that modern data teams should be considering during their data catalog evaluation process:
Open source data catalogs do not typically offer automated table or column level lineage. Metadata ingestion is also typically manual. The harder it is to update and maintain, the less likely it is for a data team to get value from their catalog, let alone encourage business users to be self-serve.
One of the benefits of open source data catalogs is that they can be integrated with a variety of data storage and processing systems. However, integrating these systems can be complex and time-consuming, especially if your organization has multiple data sources or complex data workflows. Organizations may need to hire consultants or dedicate internal resources to integration efforts. Secoda offers out of the box, one click integrations with the most popular components of the modern data stack so you can get the most of your data catalog from day 1.
Secoda customers who had previously conducted POCs with an open source solution routinely cite the lack of automation and out of the box integrations as the leading reasons for making the switch. Additional automations that are not available in open source solutions are the ability to automatically notify stakeholders of any potential downstream impact to a schema or other change to an upstream data asset and the ability to automatically ensure that your queries are not referencing any stale data.
While open-source data catalogs may be free to use, they require significant resources to implement and customize so they can be easy to use. This can include technical expertise, time, and money. Depending on the complexity of the implementation, it may require dedicated resources or consulting services. Secoda is built for data practitioners but designed with usability in mind - out of the box. That means, anyone, including business users, can feel comfortable using Secoda to search and access the data they need to make decisions.
A data catalog's ability to solve the problem of finding data depends on its search function. A key differentiator between Secoda and other open source solutions is Secoda’s robust semantic search powered by LLM that returns more relevant and accurate search results. It allows anyone to ask any question to your data and return a relevant, contextual answer. For example, if you search for “What resources are used to calculate revenue”, Secoda is able to provide relevant resources on these types of ambiguous queries. Some additional examples include:
One of the most important features is the ability to authenticate users and restrict access to specific data. Without proper access controls, enforcing high levels of data governance becomes a challenge, and unauthorized data access can lead to issues with data quality and reliability.
Additionally, data catalogs must support data governance workflows such as version control, version history, publishing workflows, and role-based permissions and assignments. These workflows help protect data accuracy and ensure the right people have access to the right data. Role-based permissions are particularly important to maintain data privacy and security, and to prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information. These are all standard features with Secoda.
Furthermore, data catalogs should be flexible enough to deploy either on-premise or in the cloud. This allows organizations to choose the deployment method that best fits their needs, whether it be on their own servers or in a cloud-based environment. By carefully evaluating these critical features, data teams can select a data catalog that aligns with their organization's data governance requirements and helps ensure the protection and reliability of their data.
Maintaining and updating the software can be a significant investment of time and resources, including debugging, troubleshooting, and patching. While the software may be free, organizations must consider the cost of staffing and time required to manage and maintain the system. One significant drawback of open source software is its dependence on a community for the development of new features. While a community can bring diverse perspectives and expertise to the table, it can also lead to a lack of centralized decision-making and a slower pace of development. Additionally, the community may not always prioritize the needs and requirements of specific organizations, leading to a mismatch between the software and the organization's goals.
Open-source solutions typically don't come with formal support, so organizations must rely on online communities or forums for assistance. This can be challenging for organizations that require timely support or have complex technical issues unique to their stack or specific use case. It's crucial for organizations to carefully evaluate whether open source software aligns with their long-term goals and resources before investing in it. Given the reliance on community support, a wide range of bugs are created with no prioritized backlog for resolution. This can result in a lack of speed and focus in providing what your organization wants and needs.
Building your own data catalog may seem like a cost-effective option at first, but it requires significant resources, including time, money, and expertise, to design and implement a system that meets your organization's needs. In addition, maintenance and updates may also add to the ongoing cost of the self-built solution. As the organization’s data needs change, the catalog may need to be reconfigured or customized, adding to ongoing maintenance costs. On the other hand, Secoda provides access to a robust, feature-rich solution that has already been thoroughly tested and optimized. It also offers ongoing support and updates to ensure that the system remains current and effective.
Customizations with an open source solution may require additional engineering resources whereas in Secoda, you are able to create no-code customizations such as dedicated read-only portals for business users and assign specific permissions and workspaces to specific teams.
Data teams must weigh the costs and benefits of utilizing open source software. On one hand, it can be a cost-effective solution that can be tailored to meet their unique needs. The ability to access and modify source code provides a higher degree of control over the software.
While open source software can be an attractive solution due to its cost-effectiveness, it's important to recognize that there may be additional costs beyond the initial purchase price. One such cost is the time and resources required to train staff on the software and ensure they have the necessary skills to effectively use it.
Additionally, open source software may not have the same level of technical support as commercial software, meaning that organizations may need to allocate additional resources towards maintaining and troubleshooting the software. Legal and compliance issues may also arise due to the lack of formal support and documentation for open source software. As such, it's important for data engineers to carefully evaluate the potential costs of open source software before making a decision to adopt it, and to ensure that the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks.
While open source data catalogs may offer a low-cost alternative to commercial solutions, organizations need to consider the hidden costs of implementation, customization, training, integration, and missed opportunities. Before choosing an open source data catalog, organizations should carefully evaluate their data management needs and assess whether an open source solution truly represents the best value for their organization.
When comparing Secoda to open source tools, there are several clear advantages. Here are just a few reasons people go with Secoda:
No hidden opportunity or maintenance costs. Secoda makes pricing simple and straightforward.
Secoda provides intuitive tools for charting that are not available with open source tools. Secoda has built-in charts to document queries and additional knowledge your team creates.
Secoda has no limits on viewers. Everyone who needs to see your data will be able to get access.
Secoda is one of the easiest tools to set up in your current data stack. You can seamlessly integrate Secoda without code and get up and running in minutes.
Easily share charts, data, and graphs with your customers and other teams with links and invitations.
Secoda is a workspace made specifically with data teams in mind. Get comprehensive analytics on the metrics that matter to your business.
Secoda easily integrates with Git and provides you with version control, in case you need to merge or roll back changes in Github or Gitlab.
Easily manage data requests. No more jumping between tools and having questions asked twice. Data requests can easily be searched where all your data lives.
Documentation has never been easier. Collaborate with your team, update them on changes, and much more.
Secoda is designed to be easy for any of your users to discover, understand, and search for the data they need. Our searchable platform provides you with a data catalog, data documentation, data dictionary, and data management all from one tool. No more data silos or errors – everything you need is on Secoda.
Secoda is a holistic platform that is collaborative and searchable. All of your data knowledge is easily accessible to your team members. Any document changes and updates are processed throughout your data catalog, so everyone is on the same page.
With the Secoda data catalog, your team can see metadata, lineage, data usage, and much more. Teams can share and connect data automatically, search and collaborate without having to rely on the data team, and even share with customers when needed.
Secoda is designed to make it as intuitive as possible to search for data. Discover and manage your data easily and quickly. Create data documents with insights from the data team, reduce data requests by increasing employee data literacy, and increase data discovery.
All of your team members will have everything they need to make data-driven decisions quickly and without being delayed by data team bottlenecks. Plus, your data team gets more time in their day since they’re not constantly responding to requests and they can more easily find the data they need too.