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What are ETL Tools?

Snowflake Snowday 2021

Given that a data warehousing environment includes data from disparate sources, many users deploy some varation of extract, transform, load (ETL) -- often automated and scheduled -- to process heterogeneous data and unify it for analysis. Having the right tools for the task at hand is important to ensuring a seamless flow of data from pirmary sources to end-user analysts or data scientists. Extract, transform, load is a primary component of data integration, along with data preparation, data migration and management, and data warehouse automation.

ETL tools collect, read and migrate data from multiple data sources or structures and can identify updates or changes to data streams to avoid constant
whole data set refreshes.Operationally, the tools can filter, join, merge, reformat, aggregate and for some, integrate with BI applications. ELT (Extract, Load, Transform) is a more recent variant that acknowledges the transformation part of the process is not always required before loading.

What to look for in an ETL tool

  • Easy to use, maintain, and highly secure
  • Connects to all required data sources to fetch all relevant data
  • Works seamlessy with other components of your data platform, including data warehouses and data lakes (via ELT)

ETL Tools Available in the Market

There are many ETL tools available in the market today, each with its own unique features and capabilities. Some of the best ETL tools include:

  • Talend: Offers a wide range of data integration tools that are easy to use and support many different data sources.

  • Informatica: Known for its advanced data mapping and transformation capabilities, as well as its ability to integrate with other tools in the data ecosystem.

  • Microsoft's SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS): Offers a graphical user interface, advanced data cleansing features, and support for a variety of data sources.

  • Apache Nifi: A newer ETL tool that offers a drag-and-drop interface, real-time data processing, and support for streaming data sources.

  • AWS Glue: A cloud-based ETL tool that is highly scalable, integrates with many AWS services, and offers advanced data mapping and transformation features.

  • Google Cloud Dataflow: A cloud-based ETL tool that offers flexible data processing, support for both batch and streaming data sources, and integration with many other Google Cloud services.

  • Apache Kafka: A distributed streaming platform that can also be used for ETL purposes.

When choosing an ETL tool, it's important to consider your specific needs and use cases, as well as the cost, ease of use, and support provided by the vendor.

Snowflake and ETL Tools

Snowflake seamlessly integrates with ETL tools, including Informatica, Talend, Fivetran, Matillion and others for versatile data integration and transformation. 

Snowflake supports both transformation during (ETL) or after loading (ELT). 

In data engineering,  new tools and self-service pipelines are eliminating traditional tasks such as manual ETL coding and data cleaning companies. With easy ETL or ELT options via Snowflake,  data engineers can instead spend more time working on critical data strategy and pipeline optimization projects. 

With the Snowflake Data Cloud as your data lake and data warehouse,  ETL can be effectively eliminated, as no pre-transformations or pre-schemas are needed.

In addition, Snowflake Snowpark is designed to make building complex data pipelines a breeze and to allow developers to interact with Snowflake directly without moving data. Read more about Snowpark here. See Snowflake’s capabilities for yourself. To give it a test drive, sign up for a free trial