You may be here because you’re actively shopping for a data catalog, because you’re beginning your documentation and governance journey, or simply because you’re really into data and technology (hey, we respect that - we are too!).
CastorDoc and Alation are two popular data catalogs in the market, so you may be wondering: how do they stack up? In this article, we’ll give a detailed comparison of the two platforms by looking at their key features, technology integrations, target audience, pricing, ratings, and ease of use.
Whether you're an analyst, a data scientist, or a business user, this comparison will give you a comprehensive understanding of what each data catalog has to offer and will help you make an informed decision.
Let’s start with the basics. If you’re wondering what a data catalog is, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a brief explanation, according to Gartner:
“A data catalog creates and maintains an inventory of data assets through the discovery, description, and organization of distributed datasets. The data catalog provides context to enable data stewards, data/business analysts, data engineers, data scientists and other data consumers to find and understand relevant datasets for the purpose of extracting business value.”
Gartner – Augmented Data Catalogs 2019
Data catalogs play a crucial role in managing and organizing large datasets for organizations. In recent years, there has been a growing demand for data discovery to help companies find, understand, and use their data across ever-increasing data platforms and systems. And as you think about your data catalog needs, there’s a wide data catalog landscape to choose from, and vendor comparisons can help you make the right choice based on your organization’s needs.
We have kept our process as unbiased as possible. Our approach analyzed Alation vs CastorDoc's offerings, paired with reputable customer and third-party review websites such as G2 and Gartner. We evaluated six key factors to help you make an informed decision:
Let’s get started!
CastorDoc was established by former data scientists, engineers, and heads of data to help companies improve the data experience. In fact, when reading about CastorDoc it’s evident that the founders felt the pain of data discovery first-hand, and built the company as a solution to their own problems.
CastorDoc is a plug-and-play data catalog that unifies your data stack by simplifying data discovery, community, and health. It creates an automated data blueprint to harness your team’s collective intelligence so your whole team can work smarter by default. CastorDoc is unique in that it was built for full company adoption - meaning that CastorDoc’s value extends beyond the data team and brings business users along too.
Business users are empowered by the accessibility of the platform, which results in streamlined data workflows and reduced data team bottlenecks. Therefore, companies can drive efficiency and ROI by saving data engineers’ time, deprecating unused data, improving data health, and making higher-quality business decisions. Ultimately, CastorDoc allows companies to optimize their data stack by unifying metadata from all of their preferred tools into one cohesive system - without the chaos.
Founded in 2012, by Satyen Sangani (CEO and co-founder) & Aaron Kalb (Chief Data & Analytics Officer and co-founder), it is credited with creating the data catalog product category. Its signature software, the Alation Data Catalog, serves enterprises in organizing and consolidating their data. Alation launched its first product in 2015 to give data consumers an easy way to search for enterprise data with natural language.
Alation grew out of different ideas aimed at solving the same question: How do you connect workers with questions to colleagues with answers?
Alation is built to be used by technical teams only. It provides a legacy approach to data management with a solid integration ecosystem, quality data features, and reliable data governance. Alation aims to simplify data management and improve the efficiency of collaborative efforts in various industries such as data management, analytics, and research.
CastorDoc vs Alation Comparison
Now that you have all the context, let's dive in to our evaluation of CastorDoc vs Alation along our six key dimensions:
CastorDoc was built for viral, company-wide adoption. While its main users are data people – such as Data Analysts, Data Scientists, Data Stewards, Data Engineers, and Heads of Data – it is also intentionally designed to be used by Business, Operations, Support, Finance, and Management teams who are looking to make decisions based on real-time data.
Alation was built for IT & Governance teams. It is used by Data Stewards, Data Engineers, Data Analysts, Data Scientists, and Heads of Data. While it provides support for business roles as well, IT & Governance team members are its sweet spot.
If your company is looking for data consumers to access the catalog regularly in order to make decisions, then CastorDoc is the clear choice. CastorDoc offers all of the functionality that data teams need, while also providing an easy interface for non-technical users to find relevant information. It supports business intelligence and decision-making, while simplifying collaboration. Governance features are embedded in the product by design (role-base access control, persona-based interface, batch editing, API) and enable to scale data self-service without losing control.
Both CastorDoc and Alation have external integrations as well as APIs. As of the time of this article, here are their current integrations. Please note that as these technologies are developing, more connections are becoming available by the day.
- Data Sources: Snowflake, Redshift, BigQuery, Azure Synapse, PostgreSQL, MySQL
- Data Visualization/Business Intelligence Tools: Looker, Tableau, Metabase, PowerBI, Superset, Sisense, Domo, Qlik Sense, Redash, Mode, Sigma
- Auto-Ingestion/Data Movement: dbt, Fivetran, Stitch
- Security: Okta, Google
- Notifications: Slack, Gmail
- Data Sources: Athena, Redshift, AWS Glue (including S3), Databricks, BigQuery, Hive, SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Presto, Salesforce, SAP HANA, Snowflake, Trino
- Data Visualization/Business Intelligence Tools: Looker, Metabase, Mode, PowerBI, Sigma, Tableau
- Auto-Ingestion/Data Movement: dbt Cloud, dbt Core, Fivetran
While CastorDoc matches integration support for the top cloud data warehouses, it offers more data visualization integrations than Alation. Alation thrives when it comes to non-cloud integrations. The respective emphasis on data warehouses vs BI tools tracks with Alation’s focus on the IT team and CastorDoc’s focus on both the data team and broader business audience. Check out their live pages to view the latest CastorDoc Integrations and Atlan integrations.
CastorDoc offers three pricing plans - Starter, Premium, and Enterprise. CastorDoc also offers a 14-day free trial.
- The Starter Package is $10,000 per year and includes 15 users, 2 integrations, 2,500 data assets, and 1 admin.
- The Premium package is custom pricing. It includes 30 users, 3 integrations, 5,000 data assets, and 2 admins.
- The Enterprise package is also custom pricing. It includes 50 users, 3 integrations, 10,000 data assets, and 5 admins.
Alation pricing is not transparently listed on their website, but you can contact them for more information and a customized proposal.
Ease of Use
CastorDoc differentiates itself in the world of data catalog systems by its user experience and ease of use. The company was created because the founders had worked with traditional data catalogs, and found them clunky, outdated, and difficult to manage.
CastorDoc’s goal is to make working with data easy. It’s built in a way that anyone – regardless of their data literacy level, department, or technical prowess – can find and trust the data. It features a “Google-like” search engine, which allows any user to quickly find what they need, no technical expertise required. CastorDoc can be set up within 30 minutes and will provide value on Day 1.
Alation is also well rated for its ease of use. The platform is optimized for the IT & data governance persona. The platform is designed with an ability to adapt to any complex data infrastructure and internal data organization. It simplifies data governance and management, while offering extensive governance, customizable access rights, and ability to comply to compliance rules.
Alation is built for IT & governance teams and does require a higher technical level to understand, as its governance-oriented features add complexity to the experience. Therefore, non-data users may get lost in the interface & need to work through data teams to get the information they need.
Because of this, CastorDoc has better usability for the whole business. Its intuitive UX was purpose-built for viral adoption, which you can easily see in their short demo video.
Review and Ratings
In writing this article, we consulted both CastorDoc and Alation reviews from sites like G2 and Gartner Peer Insights. You can review the CastorDoc ratings here, and the Alation ratings here. These links also include product reviews. Overall, both companies rated well and had positive reviews. However, CastorDoc was rated higher in the three main categories - Ease of Use, Quality of Support, and Ease of Setup.
G2 highlights Ease of Use as the top factor that impacts user satisfaction for Machine Learning Data Catalog products. It rates CastorDoc as a 10/10 for ease of use, and Alation as an 8.5/10. As one CastorDoc reviewer notes,
“CastorDoc is super easy to use! We love that it auto-populates definitions for commonly used tables (zendesk, salesforce, etc.). We also love that it tells us which tables are most popular - super helpful when we were just starting to populate our data dictionary, and that it syncs with tools like dbt and looker. Our #1 most favorite part is the lineage tool - it has been incredibly timesaving for us when making logic updates and changes to understand the downstream impact of said changes.”
For Quality of Support, CastorDoc ranks 9.7/10 and Atlan ranks 8.5/10. It’s worth noting that the average is 8.6/10, so CastorDoc outranked both Alation and the average score across this category.
G2 also ranks both companies for Ease of Setup - CastorDoc comes in at 9.2/10 and Atlan has a 7.8/10. The average score for this category is 8.1/10.
Support and ease of setup stood out to another reviewer, who mentioned:
“The connection to our databases was simple to establish with the help and support of CastorDoc's team, which is excellent and very reactive!”
According to G2’s side-by-side comparison,
- Reviewers felt that CastorDoc meets the needs of their business better than Atlan.
- When comparing quality of ongoing product support, reviewers felt that CastorDoc is the preferred option.
- For feature updates and roadmaps, our reviewers preferred the direction of CastorDoc over Atlan.
Service and Support
CastorDoc includes 24/7 Email & LiveChat support for Starter plans and Customer Success for Premium and Enterprise plans. In addition, once a client signs on, CastorDoc sets them up with a dedicated Slack channel and a Solutions Engineer is available to help with data connection and technical questions. Premium and Enterprise clients get a Customer Success Manager for the white glove experience and point of contact. A full list of features can be found alongside their pricing plans.
Alation offers 24/7 support, with several tiers of escalation. They also offer a help desk portal where you can create and log a ticket. Finally, they have a dedicated Customer Success Team & Professional Service, which you can contact for ongoing requests.
CastorDoc might be the best option for support for mid-market and small enterprise company (between 1000-10000 employees) while Alation support might be best for large enterprise companies. Both companies offer plenty of self-help documentation, guides, and videos to help users find what they need quickly. Check out CastorDoc's full documentation to learn more.
The Best Data Catalog for Your Business
When looking at all of the factors discussed, including available integrations, key audience, ease of use, reviews and ratings, and service and support, the winner is CastorDoc.
While both companies offer similar integrations and are regularly adding more, the real differentiator when looking at CastorDoc compared to Alation is the key audience for each product and its ease of use. CastorDoc ranks higher for ease of use, which makes sense as the solution was built for non-data people to be able to use. In addition, CastorDoc ranks significantly higher in Quality of Support.
Alation certainly has great features, but CastorDoc is the #1 platform for data lineage and ease of use for the whole organization.
Fantastic tool for data discovery and documentation
“[I like] The easy to use interface and the speed of finding the relevant assets that you're looking for in your database. I also really enjoy the score given to each table, [which] lets you prioritize the results of your queries by how often certain data is used.”
Michal, Head of Data, Printify