Organizations of all sizes and industries now have access to 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. Here are 7 of the best ETL software tools for 2021, along with a few others that you may want to consider:
- Informatica Power Center
- Oracle Data Integrator
- Other ETL Tools to Consider
- Use Cases for the Top ETL Tools
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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.
Related Reading: ETL vs ELT
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 HIPPA, GDPR, and CCPA.
Thanks to these advantages, Xplenty has received an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars from 93 reviewers on the G2 website and been named one of G2’s “Leaders” in the field of ETL tools. Xplenty reviewer Kerry D. writes: “I have not found anything I could not accomplish with this tool. Support and development have been very responsive and effective.”
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.
Talend has received an average rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars on G2, as well as the designation of “Leader” in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools report. Reviewer Jan L. says that Talend is a “great all-purpose tool for data integration” with “a clear and easy-to-understand interface.”
Stitch is an open-source ELT data integration platform. Like Talend, Stitch also 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 ELT and automated data pipelines, making the process simpler. However, would-be users should note that Stitch’s ELT tool 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.
G2 users have given Stitch generally positive reviews, not to mention the title of “High Performer." One reviewer compliments Stitch’s "simplicity of pricing, the open-source nature of its inner workings, and ease of onboarding." However, some Stitch reviews cite minor technical issues and a lack of support for less popular data sources.
4) Informatica PowerCenter
Informatica PowerCenter is a mature, feature-rich enterprise data integration platform for ETL workloads. PowerCenter is just one tool in the Informatica suite of cloud data management tools.
As an enterprise-class, database-neutral solution, PowerCenter has a reputation for high performance and compatibility with many different data sources, including both SQL and non-SQL databases. The negatives of Informatica PowerCenter include the tool’s high prices and a challenging learning curve that can deter smaller organizations with less technical chops.
Despite these drawbacks, Informatica PowerCenter has earned a loyal following, with an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars on G2—enough to be named a G2 “Leader” in the field of data integration software. Reviewer Victor C. calls PowerCenter “probably the most powerful ETL tool I have ever used”; however, he also complains that PowerCenter can be slow and does not integrate well with visualization tools such as Tableau and QlikView.
5) Oracle Data Integrator
Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) is a comprehensive data integration solution that is part of Oracle’s data management ecosystem. This makes the platform a smart choice for current users of other Oracle applications, such as Hyperion Financial Management and Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS). ODI comes in both on-premises and cloud versions (the latter offering is referred to as Oracle Data Integration Platform Cloud).
Unlike most other software tools on this list, Oracle Data Integrator supports ELT workloads (and not ETL), which may be a selling point or a dealbreaker for certain users. ODI is also more bare-bones than most of these other tools since certain peripheral features are included in other Oracle software instead.
Oracle Data Integrator has an average rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars on G2. According to G2 reviewer Christopher T., ODI is “a very powerful tool with tons of options,” but also “too hard to learn…training is definitely needed.”
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.
With an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on G2, Skyvia is very popular among its user base. Reviewer David K. writes: "Even with our limited knowledge, we were able to use Skyvia’s intuitive and flexible connection tools to synchronize inventory across our multi-channel retail business."
If you’re considering Skyvia for your next ETL tool, take note of the following caveats:
- Skyvia focuses on the “extract” and “load” stages of ETL, with very limited functionality for transformations.
- The number of integrations and connectors offered by Skyvia is low in comparison to other ETL tools.
- A few users have complained about problems with delayed and unresponsive customer support after they encountered technical issues.
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 roughly 90 possible SaaS sources and the ability to add your own custom integrations.
Fivetran currently has 4.2 out of 5 stars on G2, where many users praise the tool’s simplicity and ease of use. Reviewer Daniel H. writes: "We don't have to spend much time thinking about Fivetran, and that's a great sign it's doing what we need it to do. Hooking up new connectors is typically quick and straightforward to do with solid documentation."
Some G2 reviewers, however, have noted complaints about Fivetran’s new pricing model, changing from the number of connectors to a consumption-based plan. In addition, a minority of users have had problems with technical issues and customer support: “Fivetran is a black box, and when there is a problem, it's really difficult to diagnose. Their support line is no prize, either.”
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8 More Top ETL Tools to Consider
While the 7 solutions listed above are our own personal recommendations for the top ETL tools, there are plenty of other options to consider out there. Below, we'll give a brief overview of 8 more top ETL tools that you might want to have on your list.
Striim offers a real-time data integration platform for big data workloads. Users can integrate a wide variety of data sources and targets in roughly 20 different file formats, including Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Hadoop. Striim is compliant with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA, and users can define pre-load transformations using SQL or Java.
However, the Striim platform comes with a few drawbacks: it doesn’t include any SaaS (software as a service) sources or targets, and it doesn’t allow users to add new data sources. In addition, the Striim user base appears fairly small, with just 1 review on G2.
Matillion is a cloud ETL platform that can integrate data with Redshift, Snowflake, BigQuery, and Azure Synapse. Users can create data transformations in Matillion through a simple point-and-click interface, or by defining them in SQL.
Unfortunately, Matillion suffers from a similar drawback as Striim does: the number of possible SaaS sources in Matillion (roughly 40) is lacking when compared with other options we’ve discussed. In addition, a reviewer on G2 (where Matillion has 4.2 out of 5 stars) mentions that “the pricing model is difficult for light usage clients. It is charged based on the time the virtual machine is turned on, not by how many jobs or computing resources are being used.”
Pentaho (also known as Kettle) is an open-source platform offered by Hitachi Vantara used for data integration and analytics. Users can select either Pentaho’s free community edition, or purchase a commercial license for the software’s enterprise edition. Like Xplenty, Pentaho comes with a user-friendly interface that lets even ETL newbies build robust data pipelines.
However, Pentaho comes with its own set of drawbacks, including a limited set of templates and technical issues. Pentaho currently has an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars on G2, where some users complain about encountering indecipherable problems: “Since there are no detailed explanations of the errors on the logging screen, sometimes we cannot find the cause of the error.”
4) AWS Glue
AWS Glue is a fully managed ETL service from Amazon Web Services that is intended for big data and analytic workloads. As a fully managed, end-to-end ETL offering, AWS Glue is intended to take the pain out of ETL workloads and integrates well with the rest of the AWS ecosystem.
Notably, AWS Glue is serverless, which means that Amazon automatically provisions a server for users and shuts it down when the workload is complete. AWS Glue also includes features such as job scheduling and “developer endpoints” for testing AWS Glue scripts, improving the tool’s ease of use.
AWS Glue users have given the service generally high marks. It currently holds 3.9 out of 5 stars on the business software review platform G2, where (like Xplenty) it's been named a "Leader" in the field of ETL tools. However, we're not including AWS Glue as one of our top 7 ETL tools because it's less flexible than other tools, and typically best suited to users who are already within the AWS ecosystem.
Panoply is an automated, self-service cloud data warehouse that aims to simplify the data integration process. Any data connector with a standard ODBC/JDBC connection, Postgres connection, or AWS Redshift connection is compatible with Panoply. In addition, users can connect Panoply with other ETL tools such as Stitch and Fivetran to further augment their data integration workflows.
On G2, Panoply has received an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars. Reviewer Stacie B. writes: "The best thing about Panoply is how easy it is to import data from multiple sources. Setting up the program and data loading took less than ten minutes."
So why aren’t we recommending Panoply as one of our 7 top ETL tools? The big issue is that Panoply seeks to offer the dual functionality of both data warehouse and ETL solutions. If you’re already using a different cloud data warehouse and aren’t looking for a change, Panoply is a non-starter.
Alooma is an ETL data migration tool for data warehouses in the cloud. The major selling point of Alooma is its automation of much of the data pipeline, letting you focus less on the technical details and more on the results.
In February of 2019, Google acquired Alooma and restricted future signups only to Google Cloud Platform users. This means that any customers using other data warehouses (such as Redshift or Snowflake) should keep looking for an alternate solution.
Nevertheless, Alooma has received generally positive reviews from users, with 4.0 out of 5 stars on G2. One user writes: “I love the flexibility that Alooma provides through its code engine feature… [However,] some of the inputs that are key to our internal tool stack are not very mature.”
7) Hevo Data
Hevo Data is an ETL data integration platform, with more than 100 pre-built connectors to databases, cloud storage, and SaaS sources. Users can define their own pre-load transformations in Hevo Data using Python. Hevo Data supports the most popular data warehouse destinations, including Redshift, BigQuery, and Snowflake.
One of the biggest limitations of Hevo is the inability to add your own data sources—if you need a new connection, you can only hope that the Hevo developers listen to your feature request. Another possible drawback of Hevo Data is the tool’s relatively small user base (with just 6 reviews on G2), which can be an issue if you need advice or support.
FlyData is a real-time data replication platform with one big catch: it’s only compatible with Amazon Redshift data warehouses. This might be exactly what you’re looking for if you only use Redshift and don’t plan on switching, in which case you can enjoy a tool that has been custom-built to work with Redshift.
However, if you use another data warehouse solution, or if you want to remain flexible and avoid the risk of vendor lock-in, then FlyData likely isn’t the tool for you. FlyData also has another major disadvantage: it only works with a handful of data sources (including Amazon RDS, Amazon Aurora, MySQL, Percona, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB) and no SaaS platforms.
Use Cases for the Top ETL Tools
No two ETL software tools are the same, and each one has its benefits and drawbacks. Finding the best ETL tool for you will require an honest assessment of your business requirements, goals, and priorities.
Given the comparisons above, the list below offers a few suggested groups of users that might be interested in each ETL tool:
- Xplenty: 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.
- Talend: Companies who prefer an open-source solution; companies that need many pre-built integrations.
- Stitch: Companies who prefer an open-source solution; companies who prefer a simple ELT process; companies that don't require complex transformations.
- Informatica PowerCenter: Large enterprises with large budgets and demanding performance needs.
- Oracle Data Integrator: Existing Oracle customers; companies who use ELT workloads.
- Skyvia: Companies that want a no-code solution; companies that don't need to perform a lot of transformations.
- Fivetran: Companies that need many pre-built integrations; companies that need the flexibility of multiple data warehouses.
While their drawbacks prevent us from fully recommending them as one of the top 7 ETL tools, the solutions below might be right for the following use cases:
- Striim: Companies that need to comply with GDPR or HIPAA; companies that don't need to add new data sources (especially SaaS).
- Matillion: Companies that want to use a simple point-and-click interface; companies that only have a limited number of data sources.
- Pentaho: Companies who prefer open-source ETL tools.
- AWS Glue: Existing AWS customers; companies who need a fully managed ETL solution.
- Panoply: Companies who want a combined ETL and data warehouse solution.
- Alooma: Existing Google Cloud Platform customers.
- Hevo Data: Companies that want to add their own data transformations using Python; companies that don't need to add new data sources.
- FlyData: Companies that only need to work with Redshift data warehouses.
If Xplenty sounds like the best ETL software tool for your business, get in touch with our team today. We’ll schedule a personalized demo and a 7-day free trial so that you can see whether Xplenty is the right fit for you.