4 Questions You Should Ask About Change Data Capture (CDC) Tools

by Equalum

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September 08, 2022 2:35am

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Change Data Capture (CDC) describes a set of techniques to capture changes from data sources in real-time. CDC is widely considered the lowest-overhead and most effective way to capture changes asynchronously without any change to the source – a critical requirement for enabling real-time analytics and decision making. Equalum’s approach to data ingestion is based on the timely identification, capture, and delivery of the changes originally made to enterprise data sources, allowing organizations to quickly acquire analytics data to make actionable business decisions that ultimately result in innovation and time/money saved.

CDC is a well-known methodology, and there are several legacy tools that leverage these techniques. These solutions are a natural starting point for data teams looking to empower their business with real-time insights.

But CDC technologies vary widely in their ability to meet critical business needs. Without proper vetting, buyers may find that legacy CDC tools fall short of delivering on essential business use cases – and don’t scale in an ROI-positive way as an enterprise’s needs evolve beyond a specific replication use case to enterprise-wide adoption. Picking the right CDC vendor and the right CDC tool can help you save time, money, and avoid costly headaches.

How can you ensure that you’re getting the best possible change data capture solution that will meet your current needs, and is also scalable enough to meet your needs down the road? Here are four questions you should ask when choosing a CDC vendor:


1. What can your CDC solution do beyond just data replication?

Most legacy Change Data Capture (CDC) tools are built primarily for data replication (reproducing data “as is” from a source to a target). However, businesses often rely on in-flight transformation to make the data useful for analysis. Transformation – which include aggregation, filtering, joining across multiple data sources, or otherwise modifying data – are essential for businesses looking to extract insights from raw data. While legacy CDC tools may offer limited transformation as an add-on for specific replication use cases, savvy buyers should look for robust, full-scale ETL capabilities for streaming data – which help enterprises harness the full power of data in motion to power better, faster decision-making.

The Equalum difference:

Equalum provides in-flight data transformation capabilities that go well beyond replication, including source data modification, data computations and correlation with other data sources. Our platform uses a zero-coding, UI-based approach with limited to no overhead on data sources.


2. What data sources and targets does your CDC tool support?

CDC tools typically provide out-of-the-box integrations to major legacy and widely adopted enterprise databases, but may offer very limited support for new databases and non-database sources and targets. Data-driven enterprises often need to harness the data in applications, files, APIs, message queues, and more. Data from a broader range of sources means a more complete view of your customers and how your business is performing. Data teams should ensure that a solution for in-flight data supports multiple sources and delivery to all your relevant targets.

The Equalum difference:

Equalum offers seamless integration with legacy, newer database technology, and non-database sources. Equalum’s sources include Oracle, SQL Server, Postgres, SAP, and Salesforce. We deliver to a wide range of targets including Snowflake, Azure, and other data lakes and warehouses.


3. How much coding and expertise does your CDC solution require?

Some leading CDC tools require extensive coding that is time-consuming and inconvenient, and offer no UI whatsoever. Other tools include limited UI, but the overall UI/UX is antiquated and doesn’t offer drag and drop and other features that make it easy to build data pipelines and monitor your data flows. Consider avoiding CDC tools that create extra work for your overburdened data teams, and require hours of coding to setup and maintain.

The Equalum difference:

Equalum’s CDC tool includes drag and drop UI with no coding required. This allows engineers to deploy our tool in minutes, instead of days or weeks, and frees up data teams to focus on other projects.


4. How much is this going to cost me?

The pricing model for legacy CDC tools – which typically involves a per-server or CPU usage-based fee – is a good option for small, isolated scenarios of data replication. With this model, costs can add up quickly when a business looks to leverage the technology across a wider range of applications. Data analysts charged with driving widespread usage of real-time insights should look for solutions that offer a license model designed to enable businesses to scale for enterprise-wide adoption without costs increasing dramatically.

Ultimately, solutions that leverage change data capture technology vary widely in their cost, level of technological sophistication, and their ability to address meaningful challenges for data engineers and company-wide data infrastructure. The most successful enterprises are those that are looking for a scalable, end-to-end CDC solution that will meet the needs of business stakeholders and harness the power of data in motion to empower faster and better decision-making.

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