We need to pull data from a wide variety of sources, including text, reports, log files, PDF, Excel, and various databases. There are a number of products on the market which can do this, but we went with Astera because it’s interface is very user friendly. You can drag and drop components to pull data from any source and then manipulate either all of the data or individual fields the same way. This flexibility was obtained without any programming, and since the interface is similar to Microsoft products, there was not much of a learning curve. I love that I don't have to have someone fully trained in SQL code and SSIS in order to develop high quality solutions.
We had some issues getting it setup initially in time for the training course and were unable to run it from our Citrix Desktop at first. Both the trainer and support team were excellent at adapting to the situation and they eventually got us the help we needed to get it moving. As with any product that integrates into SQL, we are skeptical of how it will perform and whether or not is will optimize the code in a way that we are comfortable with. So far this has not been an issue.
If you have a lot of semi-structured or unstructured data, this tool may be your best bet on the market. Additionally it can replace much of your SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) as well.
We use Data Integrator for two main tasks in our environment. Creating ETL loads to our Data Warehouse and moving data from electronic forms via Citrix SecureForms into our Electronic Health Record system. The benefit that Astera gives us in both of these areas, are quick turnaround time and the low barrier of entry to get these projects started. In the future we plan to also use this to mine unstructured or semi-structured data for analytic purposes.