Microsoft SQL Server ETL: 10 Best Tools

on Data Integration • September 7th, 2021 • Write for Hevo

SQL Server ETL

Data has become a bedrock of modern-day businesses. How you collect, store, transform, visualize, and analyze this data is more critical today than ever. Whether you’re looking to consolidate data from RDBMS systems, streaming services, data lakes, or other alternative sources, selecting the appropriate toolset is very important. A modern ETL solution, that is designed and made for today’s real-time data environment, can give you an advantage over your competition.

Microsoft SQL Server is a product that has been used to analyze data for the last 25 years. The SQL Server ETL (Extraction, Transformation, and Loading) process is especially useful when there is no consistency in the data coming from the source systems. When faced with this predicament, you will want to standardize (validate/transform) all the data coming in first before loading it into a data warehouse. ETL has the unmistakable upper hand of delivering data in its cleansed and transformed state.

In this post, you will be introduced to the best Microsoft SQL Server ETL tools that can gracefully handle the complexity that arises as the volume of data increases.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Microsoft SQL Server 

Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database management system that supports a wide variety of applications in corporate IT environments — from transaction processing to business intelligence to analytics. As the name suggests, SQL Server is built on top of SQL, a language that database administrators and IT professionals use to manage and search databases. Microsoft SQL Server competes primarily against Oracle Database and IBM’s DB2 in the relational database management field.

Within SQL Server, Microsoft also includes a variety of data management, business intelligence, and analytics tools like R services, Machine Learning services, and SQL Server analysis services. Microsoft also offers different editions of SQL Server to fit different organization sizes and business needs. Its editions include:

  1. A free, full-featured Developer Edition for database development and testing.
  2. A free Express Edition for small databases with 10 gigabytes of storage capacity.
  3. A Standard Edition with limited features and limits to the number of configurable processor cores and memory sizes.
  4. A full-featured Enterprise Edition.

Best SQL Server ETL Tools

The ETL tools available for the SQL server database can be divided into two categories: free ETL tools and paid ETL tools. The paid tools come with a plethora of features and customizations to suit your specific requirements. The free tools essentially provide limited features related to specific use cases or requirements. You may explore these and find out which one works best for you.

Paid SQL Server ETL Tools

Hevo Data

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Hevo is a no-code data pipeline that can process billions of records and ETL to MS SQL Server within minutes. Hevo’s fault-tolerant Data Pipeline offers a faster way to move data from databases or SaaS applications into your PostgreSQL account. You can rely on Hevo’s fully managed and completely automated pipeline that not only loads data from MsSQL but also enriches the data and transforms it into an analysis-ready form without having to write a single line of code.

Hevo’s pre-built integration with MsSQLalong with 100+ other data sources (and 40+ free data sources) will take full charge of the data transfer process, allowing you to focus on key business activities. Businesses generally use Hevo to deliver the right analytical data to their business stakeholders. Hevo is optimal for any process of data extraction, data transformation and data loading, and can be used quickly for massive loads. It is also suitable for scheduled and incremental processes.

Check out what makes Hevo amazing:

  • Secure: Hevo has a fault-tolerant architecture that ensures that the data is handled in a secure, consistent manner with zero data loss.
  • Auto Schema Mapping: Hevo takes away the tedious task of schema management & automatically detects the schema of incoming data from MsSQL files and maps it to the destination schema.
  • Quick Setup: Hevo with its automated features, can be set up in minimal time. Moreover, with its simple and interactive UI, it is extremely easy for new customers to work on and perform operations.
  • Transformations: Hevo provides preload transformations through Python code. It also allows you to run transformation code for each event in the Data Pipelines you set up. Hevo also offers drag and drop transformations like Date and Control Functions, JSON, and Event Manipulation to name a few. These can be configured and tested before putting them to use for aggregation.
  • Hevo Is Built To Scale: As the number of sources and the volume of your data grows, Hevo scales horizontally, handling millions of records per minute with very little latency.
  • Incremental Data Load: Hevo allows the transfer of data that has been modified in real-time. This ensures efficient utilization of bandwidth on both ends.
  • Live Support: The Hevo team is available round the clock to extend exceptional support to its customers through chat, email, and support calls.

Hevo’s engineers have built a robust data processing infrastructure so your team doesn’t have to. Hevo supports ETL to SQL server and scales automatically to handle any increase in your data load.

Get Started with Hevo for Free
Pricing
SQL Server ETL: Hevo Pricing
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We can include how Hevo has 3 tiers of Pricing – Free, Starter, and Business. Our basic plan supports 20M events at $249/month. More details on Hevo’s pricing can be found here.

Informatica PowerCenter

Informatica Logo

Informatica PowerCenter is an enterprise-class data integration solution and data management system. You can use it to extract data from a source transforming it based on business requirements and loading it into a SQL Server. PowerCenter offers a vast array of connectors for both on-premise data sources or cloud services such as Redshift, Snowflake, S3, RDS, etc. 

Download the Guide to Evaluate ETL Tools
Download the Guide to Evaluate ETL Tools
Download the Guide to Evaluate ETL Tools
Learn the 10 key parameters while selecting the right ETL tool for your use case.
Key Features
  • Guided development wizards that automate manual tasks.
  • A massively scalable parallel data integration architecture.
  • Hundreds of connectors for most of the cloud offerings and on-premise sources.
  • A Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA).
  • A central repository service that contains all the instructions to extract, transform, and load data to MS SQL Server targets.
  • A services hub gateway that exposes all the primary functionality of the product to external clients through web services and an easy-to-use UI.
  • Tight integration with messaging systems.
  • A highly scalable concurrent data processing system.
  • Real-time change data capture that allows you to track the time, table, and the user who makes the changes.
Pricing

Informatica PowerCenter basic plan starts at $2,000/month. There is also a free fully featured 30-day trial.

Striim

Striim is an enterprise-grade real-time streaming data integration and operational intelligence platform. Striim’s end-to-end data integration platform uniquely combines both streaming integration and streaming intelligence in a single platform. Microsoft SQL Server users can use Striim to ingest high speed streaming data from a variety of sources which include minimal-impact change data capture from enterprise databases, log files, messaging systems, IoT sensors, et al in milliseconds.

Striim

While the data is in transit, it’s easy to filter, transform, aggregate, and enrich it at speed to deliver it in a consumable format therefore enabling users to make operational decisions based on time-sensitive data. When deeper insights are needed, you can use Striim to correlate streaming information, detect anomalies, and identify interesting events in patterns while the data is in motion. Striim solutions can be built rapidly without coding skills so you can immediately focus on better understanding your customers and growing your business.

Key Features
  • Change Data Capture from multiple databases and target support for Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Multiple log parsers for shipping log data to SQL Server in real-time.
  • In-memory transformations for IoT in real-time at the edge reduces the volume of data sent to SQL Server.
  • Supports high volumes of data with enterprise-grade access control, security, failover, redundancy, and recovery.
  • Replication verification using a built-in delivery validation solution.
  • Enhanced analytics with continuous data movement and in-flight processing. 
  • One of the best ETL tools for edge processing IoT sensor data.
  • Stream analytics and visualization.
  • A distributed architecture which helps with single point of failure risks so that when one node fails another one takes over immediately. This ensures that you have a highly available ETL pipeline and that you can have unlimited scaling as your data needs increase.
  • Built-in delivery validation that uses checkpointing mechanisms to ensure that everything is processed only once without repeating the data or dropping the data.
Pricing

You can request a free 30-minute technical demo of the platform after which you can upgrade to a pay-by-the-month or an annual plan. Striim does not publicly disclose its pricing structure. Instead they offer custom features based on your needs and use case.

Pentaho (Kettle)

Pentaho is a simple, powerful ETL tool that can ETL your data to Microsoft SQL Server. Using Pentaho, you can perform analysis on Microsoft SQL Server data without the headache of writing and maintaining ETL scripts. Many organizations use Pentaho to move billions of records every day from SaaS applications and databases into their data warehouses, making them available for everyone in their dashboarding tools.

Pentaho Logo

Using Pentaho, developers can set the replication frequency, whether batch or incremental, from databases like PostgreSQL and MySQL to SaaS tools like Salesforce and SAP . This data can be replicated to Microsoft SQL Server based on how often you want jobs to run, from every 24 hours down to every minute.

Key Features
  • Pentaho is totally self-serve, there’s no relationship with account managers or customer success representatives needed.
  • It is very simple to set up an ETL process.
  • You can manage your entire ETL system from the Pentaho dashboard.
  • Numerous integrations covering most top services.
  • Documentation is to the point and very helpful.
Pricing

There is a free tier that will allow you to test out the service thoroughly. The Standard plan starts out at $100 per month to process 5 million rows and you can easily adjust your plan as you grow. For mission-critical applications you can contact their sales reps to get custom integrations, custom quotas, priority support, and service level agreements to meet your requirements.

IBM InfoSphere DataStage

IBM Logo

If you have multiple targets and source systems, you can use InfoSphere Information Server as your primary corporate data integration platform. Infosphere DataStage is a cross-departmental integration platform for extracting, transforming and loading data. Organizations use DataStage to integrate data from a wide spectrum of data sources e.g. Oracle database, spreadsheets, MySQL, etc.

Key Features
  • Easy to implement and connect to various external data sources.
  • A wide variety of connectors.
  • Ability to ETL data from any source system to any destination.
  • Support for Visual Basic, and supports the C language.
  • It can process big data and unstructured data.
  • ETL flexibility without coding.
  • MPP Processing Engine.
  • Metadata management capabilities.
  • Extreme data volume processing.
  • Ability to perform data profiling, data cleansing, and metadata management.

Oracle GoldenGate

Oracle GoldenGate is one of the most comprehensive ETL tools that provides high-speed, low impact, real-time data integration and replication in disparate IT environments. Using GoldenGate, you can easily replicate, filter, and transform transactional data from popular database systems into SQL Server. GoldenGate is designed for real-time, change data capture, routing, and delivery.

Oracle Logo
Key Features
  • High-performance ETL processing.
  • Simplified configuration and management.
  • Easy to analyze problems when they occur.
  • Log-based change data capture, distribution, transformation, and delivery
  • Support for popular databases and operating systems.
  • Bidirectional replication.
  • Reliable data delivery and fast recovery after interruptions.
Pricing

Oracle GoldenGate for non Oracle databases starts from $1,750.00 – $17,500.00.

Qlik Replicate

Qlik Replicate (formerly Attunity Replicate) provides real-time insights into enterprise data. The platform is enabling hundreds of enterprises to accelerate data replication, ingestion and streaming across a broad range of sources and targets including SQL Server. Qlik Replicate moves your data easily, securely and efficiently, on-premise and in the cloud.

Qlik Replicate
Key Features
  • Simplified big data ingestion into SQL Server from thousands of sources.
  • Ability to automatically generate target schemas based on source metadata.
  • Low latency ETL processing with parallel threading.
  • Uses change data capture process (CDC) to maintain true real-time analytics with less overhead.
Pricing

Qlik does not publicly disclose its pricing. To purchase Qlick, you first need to have a conversation with one of their sales representatives.

Free SQL Server ETL Tools

Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services

SQL Server Integration Services or SSIS is a powerful tool for performing various ETL-like functions between analogous and dissimilar sources of data. Many organizations cite that the number one reason why they use SSIS is that it provides an easy way to create data transformations. SSIS comes as a built-in feature in SQL Server Standard, Enterprise, Express, and Workgroup editions so that you don’t have to spend extra cash on third-party ETL tools.

SQL server

You can use the SQL Server Integration Services to ingest data into your SQL Server data warehouse in varied ways such as a bulk load or incremental loads thanks to the use of Slowly Changing Dimension transformation tasks. 

Key Features
  • Easy connection configuration.
  • Powerful wizard for data mapping.
  • Native exception handling.
  • User-friendly interface.
  • Easy to learn.
  • The SSIS package can be deployed via Visual Studio.
  • High data load speeds.
  • Many data processing modes.
  • Requires relatively little maintenance.
Pricing

SSIS is provided without charge seeing that it is already integrated into SQL Server Licenses.

Talend Open Studio

Talend Open Studio is one of the most innovative and powerful Open Source data integration solutions on the market today. It is able to meet the data integration needs of many types of organizations. Open Studio supports ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) and can be deployed on-premise as well as in a SaaS model. Talend Open Studio or TOS, provides an intuitive graphical user interface that you can use to drag and drop components and connect them to create and run ETL pipelines. TOS will generate the Java code for the job automatically and you need not write a single line of code.

Talend ETL tools

You can use Talend Open Studio to connect your SQL Server warehouse to 900+ data sources such as RDBMS, Google Sheets, SaaS applications, etc.

Key Features
  • The tool is completely free
  • Business modeling
  • Graphical development
  • Metadata-driven design and execution
  • Real-time debugging
  • Robust execution
Pricing

Talend Open Studio is available for free download and is licensed under an open-source license – Apache License 2.0.

Apache Nifi

Apache Nifi aims to make data analytics teams more productive. Apache Nifi’s ETL solution lets analysts build data warehouses without internal IT resources or knowledge of complex scripting languages.

Apache Ni-fi

Apache Nifi is your autopilot for automating ETL workflows. Data teams can easily set up pipelines using Apache Nifi to extract data from any source and load clean and structured data into SQL Server. Apache Nifi monitors and maintains data pipelines, reducing engineering’s need for constant maintenance. They provide an interactive data wrangler which will let you control how your data is transformed, without writing any code. Apache Nifi will connect to your SQL Server database to create a high performance data warehouse in minutes. Apache Nifi supports a wide variety of integrations meaning you can connect to sources such as Salesforce, MySQL, Amazon RDS, and Google Analytics.

Key Features
  • Seamless integration with Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Complex transformations, no coding. Apache Nifi data wrangler makes it easy to define any kind of data transformation to the source data.
  • Multithreading feature to execute large jobs faster.
  • Data splitting feature that reduces processing time.
  • Capable of masking fields to protect sensitive data.
  • A vibrant user community that shares information about the product openly.
Pricing

The Apache Nifi is provided under the open source Apache License 2.0.

Conclusion

There are a plethora of SQL Server ETL tools available in the market and one may suit you better than the other depending on your particular use case, data sources, existing applications, etc. If you wish to implement this ETL manually, it will consume your time & resources and is error-prone. Moreover, you need a full working knowledge of the backend tools to successfully implement the in-house Data transfer mechanism. So it’s optimal to depend on an ETL tool like Hevo!

Hevo Data provides an Automated No-code Data Pipeline that empowers you to overcome the above-mentioned limitations. Hevo caters to 100+ data sources (including 40+ free sources) and can seamlessly ETL your SQL Server data within minutes. Hevo’s Data Pipeline enriches your data and manages the transfer process in a fully automated and secure manner without having to write any code. It will make your life easier and make data migration hassle-free.

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What is your opinion about these ETL tools? Which ETL tool would you choose and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

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