The Best ETL Tools to Use
Companies today are generating ever-increasing amounts of data, far too vast for any human to comprehend. All this information is practically useless without a way to efficiently process and analyze it, revealing the valuable data-driven insights hidden within the noise.
The ETL (extract, transform, load) process is the most popular method of collecting data from multiple sources and loading it into a centralized data warehouse. During the ETL process, information is first extracted from a source such as a database, file, or spreadsheet, then transformed to comply with the data warehouse’s standards, and finally loaded into the data warehouse.
ETL is an essential component of data warehousing and analytics, but not all ETL software tools are created equal. The best ETL tool may vary depending on your situation and use cases. There are dozens of ETL tools available today. Here are our suggestions for some of the best ETL tools you can start using.
What are ETL tools used for?
ETL (extract, transform, and load) tools are mainly used to pull data from different sources and transfer that data to a data warehouse or data lake. They’re also sometimes used to transfer data between databases, as well as data replication for storage in database management systems and data warehouses.
These software products are used to transform data sets to operationalize through querying and analysis. Many companies use these tools for analysis, data cleansing, and structuring data.
Most popular ETL tools
Stitch can be described as an “open-source extended” ETL data integration platform. Like Talend, Stitch offers paid service tiers for more advanced use cases and larger numbers of data sources. The comparison is apt in more ways than one: Stitch was acquired by Talend in November 2018.
The Stitch platform sets itself apart by offering self-service ETL and automated data pipelines, making the process simpler. However, would-be users should note that Stitch’s ETL process does not perform arbitrary transformations. Rather, the Stitch team suggests that transformations should be added on top of raw data in layers once inside the data warehouse.
Stitch can extract data from any source (even sources without a pre-built connector) using the Singer open source framework called Taps and Targets. Singer, an open source ETL platform, is primarily authored and maintained by Stitch.
- It offers you the power to secure, analyze, and govern your data by centralizing it into your data infrastructure.
- Provide transparency and control to your data pipeline
- Add multiple users across your organization
- Extended by open source via Singer
When to use it: Companies who prefer an open-source solution; companies who prefer a simple ELT process; companies that don't require complex transformations. It tends to be more price friendly than Fivetran
Fivetran is a cloud-based ETL solution that supports data integration with Redshift, BigQuery, Azure, and Snowflake data warehouses. One of the biggest benefits of Fivetran is the rich array of data sources, with 100+ possible SaaS sources and the ability to add your own custom integrations.
- Helps you to build robust, automated pipelines with standardized schemas
- Adding new data sources as fast as you need
- No training or custom coding required
- Support for BigQuery, Snowflake, Azure, Redshift, etc.
- Access to all your data in SQL
- Complete replication by default
When to use it: Companies that need many pre-built integrations; companies that need the flexibility of multiple data warehouses. One great feature of Fivetran is that each connector has a standardized schema.
Side note: We actually use Fivetran ourselves here at Freshpaint. Ping us if you have any questions!
Airbyte is the new kid on the block: it’s an open source EL(T) platform out of Y Combinator. The Airbyte platform replicates data from applications, APIs, and databases to data warehouses, lakes, and other destinations. Their main differentiation is that they are open sourced. They believe only an open-source approach can solve the problem of data integration, as it will enable them to cover the long tail of integrations while still having pre-built connectors like Fivetran or Stitch.
- Fully open sourced.
- Pre-built connectors for popular SaaS tools as sources, and data warehouses and lakes.
- Ability to self host.
- Normalized schemas.
- Optional scheduling.
When to use it: Companies who want a fully open source solution that’s free to use; companies that are not able to use pre-built connectors and need custom connectors; companies that want to stay away from pricing that is indexed on data volume.
Other ETL tools you may consider
Talend Data Integration is an open-source ETL data integration solution. The Talend platform is compatible with data sources both on-premises and in the cloud, and includes hundreds of pre-built integrations.
While some users will find the open-source version of Talend sufficient, larger enterprises will likely prefer Talend’s paid Data Management Platform. The paid version of Talend includes additional tools and features for design, productivity, management, monitoring, and data governance.
- Supports extensive data integration transformations and complex process workflows
- Offers seamless connectivity for more than 900 different databases, files, and applications
- It can manage the design, creation, testing, deployment, etc. of integration processes
- Synchronize metadata across database platforms
- Managing and monitoring tools to deploy and supervise the jobs
When to use it: Companies who prefer an open-source solution; companies that need many pre-built integrations.
Xplenty is a cloud-based ETL and ELT (extract, load, transform) data integration platform that easily unites multiple data sources. The Xplenty platform offers a simple, intuitive visual interface for building data pipelines between a large number of sources and destinations.
More than 100 popular data stores and SaaS applications are packaged with Xplenty. The list includes MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Amazon Redshift, Google Cloud Platform, Facebook, Salesforce, Jira, Slack, QuickBooks, and dozens more.
Scalability, security, and excellent customer support are a few more advantages of Xplenty. For example, Xplenty has a new feature called Field Level Encryption, which allows users to encrypt and decrypt data fields using their own encryption key. Xplenty also makes sure to maintain regulatory compliance to laws like HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA.
- Centralize and prepare data for BI
- Transfer and transform data between internal databases or data warehouses
- Send additional third-party data to Heroku Postgres (and then to Salesforce via Heroku Connect) or directly to Salesforce.
- Rest API connector to pull in data from any Rest API.
When to use it: Companies who use ETL and/or ELT workloads; companies who prefer an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that non-technical employees can use; companies who need many pre-built integrations; companies who value data security.
Skyvia is a cloud platform for big data integration, migration, and backup. Users can build data pipelines to data warehouses including Redshift, BigQuery, and Azure. Perhaps the biggest selling point of Skyvia is the tool’s no-code data integration wizard, making it accessible for both new and seasoned ETL practitioners.
- Skyvia is a commercial, subscription-based cloud solution with free plans available.
- Wizard-based, no-coding integration configuration does not require much technical knowledge.
- Advanced mapping settings with constants, lookups, and powerful expressions for data transformations.
- Integration automation by schedule.
- Ability to preserve source data relations in target.
- Import without duplicates.
- Bi-directional synchronization.
- Predefined templates for common integration cases.
When to use it: Companies who want a no-code solution; companies that don't need to perform a lot of transformations
Integrate your ETL tools with Freshpaint
Freshpaint is a leading customer data platform that lets businesses build a modern data infrastructure. With 100s of integrations available, you can easily modernize your analytics and marketing stack implementation and unlock more developer bandwidth.
Freshpaint supports all major data warehouses as a destination for your behavioral customer data. This enables you to combine product/website usage data from Freshpaint with data from other sources when paired with an ETL tool. All of your data ends up in your data warehouse, where it’s the source of truth and actionable. Freshpaint syncs to your warehouse 4x per day by default (and faster for those that need it), so your customer data is never more than 6 hours old.