Announcing the Release of Astera Centerprise 8.0: Paving the Way for Integration Innovations

By | 2019-12-04T06:54:03+00:00 December 2nd, 2019|

In the past few years, Astera Software has worked diligently to strengthen four key areas in its data integration solution: ease-of-use, agility, scalability, and unified platform coverage. With the release of next-gen Astera Centerprise 8.0, we are pushing the envelope to help you cleanse, transform, integrate, and manage your data pipelines without writing a single line of code.

The platform has undergone a major architecture change, from .NET Framework to .Net Core, enabling support for REST Server architecture. Moreover, the drag-and-drop development environment has been revamped into an improved and more responsive UI to deliver a more user-friendly experience.

We’ve updated the look and feel of the software with new icons, modern design, and eye-catching colors. In addition to the enhanced visual appeal, this new UI is designed to simplify navigation and enable easier implementation of integration tasks.

Astera Centerprise 8.0

Fig. 1: A simple dataflow that sorts source data and loads it into a database table

Here’s a summary of what you’ll get with our latest release of Astera Centerprise 8.0:

A Modern, Scalable Architecture

Reduce complexity in deployment and improve interoperability with a flexible architecture.

REST Server Architecture and Lean Client

Featuring an innovative implementation of the client-server architecture, Astera Centerprise 8.0 uses a REST-enabled server and lightweight, lean client application. The major part of processing and querying is handled by the server component, which communicates with the client using HTTPS commands. Therefore, database drivers are installed only on the Centerprise server. This enables multiple clients to connect to one server without the need to replicate driver installation on every machine.

With this functionality, we aim to minimize the logistical and maintenance challenges involved in installing Astera Centerprise, creating a more scalable architecture and simplifying software deployment.

Automate Integration Flows

Improve business processes and get results faster by using smart automation to design and execute your integration flows.

SmartMatch Functionality

To simplify complex mapping jobs, Astera Centerprise 8.0 has introduced the SmartMatch feature. It addresses the reading and mapping challenges that occur due to inconsistencies and naming conflicts in the incoming source file by allowing users to create a Synonym Dictionary File. It is a simple text-based file in which users can add variants of the header in a pipe delimited format.

Fig. 2: Accessing synonyms dictionary file

Fig. 2: Accessing synonyms dictionary file

Astera Centerprise server automatically reads and maps the fields at run-time based on the pre-defined information in the dictionary. Similarly, users can use this dictionary to map fields that have different names in the layout by pressing Shift while mapping.

Data Cleanse Transformation

As an initial step in the data preparation process, data cleansing is essential for identifying and fixing errors. The Data Cleanse transformation enables users to cleanse, standardize, and enhance data with just a few clicks before transferring to a database or a data warehouse.

Fig. 3: Properties of Data Cleanse transformation

Fig. 3: Properties of Data Cleanse transformation

Using this new transformation, users can:

  • Remove whitespaces, tabs and line breaks, unnecessary characters, punctuation, digits, etc.
  • Replace null string and numeric values with blanks and zeros respectively
  • Apply find-and-replace actions on datasets
  • Change strings to upper, lower, or title case
  • Modify data by running expressions on fields

Dynamic Layout

With data pouring in from disparate sources, it is challenging to maintain layout consistency in integration flows when the source file or table is updated. The Dynamic Layout feature automatically propagates the changes made in the source structure to the dataflow or workflow through pre-defined mappings and configurations. This saves users from the time-intensive task of manually updating the mappings and transformations to reflect source file modifications in the updated schema.

Fig.4: Enabling Dynamic Layout in the source system properties

Fig.4: Enabling Dynamic Layout in the source system properties

Job Optimizer

Performance is one of the key concerns of data professionals managing integration jobs. Our developers at Astera Software work diligently to provide you with features that can improve the performance and agility of the data processes.

Job Optimizer is another significant addition to the product that is developed to optimize performance and reduce job execution time. By modifying the flow at run-time, such as removing unnecessary sort operations on pre-sorted data or adding ORDER BY clause on database sources to run sort operations in the database, the platform improves dataflow performance.

Figure 5: Job monitoring window showing suggestions for dataflow optimization in a different color

Figure 5: Job monitoring window showing suggestions for dataflow optimization in a different color

Additionally, users can optimize the flows by following the recommendations generated by the Job Optimizer in the job trace. The feature improves performance by efficiently managing the RAM, CPU, network, and disk utilization when executing jobs.

Parameterization

Job parameterization is integral to the central management and re-use of multiple ETL/ELT jobs running in a horizontally scalable environment. It enables users to input different values at run-time using external parameters, thus eliminating hardcoded values and simplifying project deployment. Simultaneously, it enhances the reusability of ETL flows by enabling users to change multiple configurations with a simple value change in the Config File or through the Variable object.

The new parameterization component in Centerprise 8.0 supports expression compilation in variables. The syntax has been modified from ‘$ ()’ to ‘{}’ to facilitate ease-of-use.

Figure 6: Specifying the parameter path in the File System Action properties

Figure 6: Specifying the parameter path in the File System Action properties

The New and Improved Search Feature

The Search feature, available in the Toolbox, Expression Builder, Server Log and Job Monitor, has been further modified to enhance the software’s navigation and user-friendliness.

  • In the Toolbox, this feature enables users to easily search for sources, destinations, transformations, and other objects.
  • The Expression Builder’s search bar facilitates users to look for functions and modify their required fields in the selected expression.
  • Using this feature in the Server Log helps users narrow down jobs with respect to Job ID, Server Name, Component, Severity, and Error Info.
  • The search bar in the Job Monitor allows users to filter out and search for jobs based on different criteria, such as Date, Job Type, Job File, Server, Job Name, and more. In addition, the Advanced Job Search feature has been added to the window with more filters for customizing your search.

Astera REST Web Service APIs

With this new release, we have made it easier for the users to execute data integration functions by using APIs to communicate with the Centerprise server. Currently, the published REST web service API resources available for the users include account APIs (related to account and user login) and Server APIs (related to job scheduling, monitoring, and server information).

Universal Platform Coverage

Centrally manage data pipelines in heterogeneous environments using enhanced security and performance features.

Security and Access Control

The next-gen Centerprise 8.0 comes with enhanced authorization and access control features, enabling organizations to secure their data assets. Any job performed on the server is verified against the design-time and run-time components of the solution.

Fig. 7: Registering a new user, assigning user role, and deleting a user in Astera Centerprise

Fig. 7: Registering a new user, assigning user role, and deleting a user in Astera Centerprise

The three-fold security features incorporated in Astera Centerprise 8.0 include:

  • Secure domain configuration, which encrypts the transmission of information between Centerprise client and server using an SSL protocol
  • User authentication, which prevents unauthorized access to datasets
  • Role management, which enables administrators to control access by creating user-defined roles

Server Monitoring and Job Management

The advanced server monitoring and job management features help system operators proactively manage job monitoring, prevent outages, and identify the exact cause of server failure.

Users can generate a server diagnostic file to get details about the state of the server and the machine it’s installed on. Astera Centerprise retrieves information about the server components, such as server health, active connections, process memory size, thread count, installed drivers, and more. This information is helpful in troubleshooting and making process improvements.

In addition, the Job Monitor component offers a centralized space to manage and monitor all jobs running on the server.

Figure 8: Job monitoring window

Figure 8: Job monitoring window

Astera Centerprise 8.0 also features a sophisticated job trace window with improved UI response and user-friendly trace logging.

  • The job detail window is more accessible and can be opened in the existing tab rather than a new window.
  • The navigation arrow buttons simplify the navigation of flows, generating large trace output when reading or writing data to the trace tables.
  • Verification errors can now be tracked through the job trace window.
  • Suggestions to optimize the dataflow are also shown in the trace UI.
  • The Refreshbutton is added in the monitoring toolbar, which shows the current job status when the trace is paused for the live job.
  • A Clear Trace button that clears the trace while the job is running.

Workflow Performance Optimization

This new release comes with significant server code enhancements to improve the performance of workflows. The modified logic is designed to ensure uninterrupted execution of workflows in the Running state despite any communication errors occurring between the repository database and cluster servers.

Moreover, the improvements in resume and terminate functionalities give users more control over workflows, allowing them to rerun the flow from the termination point or the beginning. This feature is more pronounced when running nested processes and workflows.

Termination errors in a child process (dataflow or workflow) will cause the parent flow to automatically terminate. Similarly, resuming a child flow will automatically restart the parent flow. These improvements have considerably reduced workflow execution time.

Migrating from 7.X to 8.0

If you are using older versions of Astera Centerprise and would like to upgrade to 8.0, follow this guide for a smooth migration. In addition to several other enhancements, we have simplified the initial server configuration in this release, cutting it down to 3 simple steps. This improved platform is architectured for ease-of-use, offering users a simplified way to execute their integration jobs.

Get a flavor of our next-gen, end-to-end data integration platform by downloading a trial version of Astera Centerprise 8.0.