Alation Data Catalog: Is it Right for Your Modern Business Needs?

Updated February 28th, 2024

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What is Alation data catalog? #

Established in 2012 (launched in 2015), Alation data catalog is known to be one of the earliest data catalogs. Alation’s initial offering focused on enabling natural language search for data asset discovery within an organization. This core functionality expanded over time, incorporating features geared towards data stewards and governance teams, including compliance and access control management.

However, the data management landscape is dynamic, with innovative technologies like gen AI, active metadata management, data mesh, and AI copilots emerging. As organizations seek to optimize data utilization and ensure data governance, a critical question arises: does Alation data catalog continue to offer a compelling value proposition in this evolving environment?


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Table of contents #

  1. What is Alation data catalog?
  2. Data cataloging with Alation
  3. Meet Atlan: The Alation data catalog alternative for modern data environments
  4. Related reads

Data cataloging with Alation #

Evaluating a data catalog for your modern data estate requires careful consideration across the following dimensions:

  1. Architecture for API extensibility
  2. Features and benefits
  3. Certifications for expertise
  4. Pricing for best value

Only a comprehensive assessment across these dimensions can validate whether Alation data catalog is the right fit for your enterprise.

Architecture for API extensibility #

While Alation’s website showcases a range of pre-built connectors, detailed information on how their architecture functions and the level of control they offer is not readily available. There are also users reporting their limited API support for SaaS and data quality tools and newer data tools such as dbt.

Features and benefits #

Alation data catalog offers a range of features for managing your data assets, such as:

Data governance: This includes streamlined data management with its dedicated UI for policy creation, deployment, and enforcement. Features like automated workflows and a centralized policy center aim to simplify governance processes. However, user feedback suggests the platform has drawbacks in its governance capabilities, with reported limitations in built-in workflow capabilities.

Data lineage: Alation data catalog offers automated and column-level lineage for comprehensive data estate visibility. The catalog also provide visual lineage graphs and customization to allow easy-to-explore visualization of data assets. While this provides valuable insights, some users report limitations in complex data scenarios.

Adoption and collaboration: Alation positions its platform as a “Social Network for Data” with tools like Compose (SQL editor) and Anywhere (access platform) aimed at non-technical users. However, user feedback highlights a less-than-optimal UI/UX, with its limited customization options unable to adapt to specific organizational needs.

Integration and implementation: Alation data catalog supports over 100 pre-built connectors for various data sources. The catalog also allow custom connections through their RESTful APIs for less common data sources. However, user feedback reports that integrating Alation into existing IT infrastructure can be challenging, and unlocking its full potential may require significant time investment.

Certifications for expertise #

Data catalog certifications empower individuals and organizations to navigate their data strategy with confidence. Alation data catalog provides two options:

  1. Free Brilliance Badges for foundational knowledge  
  2. Paid Certified Professional certifications for advanced skills in specific roles like data steward or implementer

These certifications showcase expertise, potentially boosting careers and enhancing data management within Alation data catalog.

Alation data catalog: Pricing for best value #

Unveiling Alation’s pricing can be a challenge, as they don’t offer upfront costs. While this reflects the variable nature of data catalog pricing, it leaves users seeking clarity.

External comparisons such as GigaOm’s analysis suggest an Alation data catalog could cost around $413,660 annually for a medium enterprise, including $198,000 for 25 contributor licenses. This estimate excludes cloud hosting fees.

While it’s not definitive, the estimate provides a rough benchmark for considering Alation’s potential cost within a larger analytics stack. Some report a complex model with additional fees for full functionality, potentially impacting costs and ROIs.

Read more: Alation Pricing: Estimate The Total Cost of Ownership

Meet Atlan: The Alation data catalog alternative for modern data environments  #

While data catalogs like Alation may struggle to keep up with the evolving data landscape, Atlan offers a future-proof solution. Designed for agility and ease of use, Atlan empowers you to streamline and unlock the power of modern data governance and management.

Here’s how Atlan sets itself apart:

  • Future-ready architecture: Open architecture supports modern data sources and technologies for future-proof scalability.
  • Advanced automation: Leverage up-to-date automation features, AI-driven suggestions, and no-code integrations for effortless data management.
  • Comprehensive data visibility: Experience granular, column-level lineage that is quick to set up to track data assets all the way to the source.
  • Intuitive extensibility: Use custom logic, event-driven actions, connector building, policy enforcement, approval workflows, and reporting for readiness for mission-critical projects.
  • Flexible configurability: Get tailored UI and experiences with user personas, purposes, and flexible metadata capture.
  • Partner, not vendor approach: Get a value-aligned pricing structure, which showcases value within weeks.

Don’t let outdated tools hinder your data strategy. Upgrade to Atlan and experience the difference. Book your personalized demo today.

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