Modern businesses are data-driven – they use data in daily operations and decision-making. Data is collected from a variety of data storage systems, formats, and locations, and data engineers have a hefty job structuring, cleaning, and integrating this data.
For data engineers, finding the right ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) tool becomes a challenge. They have to critically evaluate available ETL tools, check for transparent pricing, and find one that best fits their requirements. Ultimately, they must ensure that their ETL tool works smoothly and makes data easily available to data analysts and business teams.
Today, Open-Source ETL tools have gained more popularity than other tools. They are available for free with no upfront cost, come with a simple and accurate UI, and offer similar functionalities as other ETL Tools.
Table of Contents
- A Brief Introduction to ETL
- 4 Key Features of Open-Source ETL Tools
- Top 11 Popular Open-Source ETL Tools
- Limitations of Open-Source ETL Tools
- Working knowledge of SaaS applications.
- Working knowledge of Open-Source and Cloud Environments.
A Brief Introduction to ETL
Modern Data Analytics Stack leverages ETL to extract data from different sources like Social Media Platforms, Email/SMS services, Customer Service Platforms, and Surveys, transform it and load it into a Data Warehouse to gain valuable and actionable insights. It is a three-step process that contains:
- Extraction: Unifying Structured and Unstructured data from a diverse set of data sources such as Databases, SaaS applications, files, CRMs, etc.
- Transformation: Converting extracted data into a standardized format so that it can be better understood by a Data Warehouse or a BI (Business Intelligence) tool.
- Loading: Storing the transformed data into a destination, normally a Data Warehouse, to support analysis and gain valuable insights.
The given figure highlights the stages of the ETL process:
4 Key Features of Open-Source ETL Tools
Open-Source ETL Tools have gained popularity because they are work-in-progress tools that do not provide many features in other ETL Tools but get regularly updated. Being Open-Source enables these tools to be constantly monitored by a large number of testers to improve and accelerate the development of the tools.
Along with being significantly less expensive than commercial products, Open-Source ETL Tools help expand the research, visibility, and developmental domains.
The 4 Key Features of Open-Source ETL Tools are:
1) Embeddable Data Integration
When Independent Software Vendors (ISV) look for Embeddable Data Integration, they opt for Open-Source ETL Tools. This is because these tools provide services for Data Integration, Migration, and Transformations at decent costs, along with comparable performance in comparison to commercial products.
2) Inexpensive Integration Tooling
When System Integrators (SI) look for Inexpensive Integration Tooling, Open-Source ETL Tools come into their mind. These tools enable System Integrators to integrate data significantly quicker and with higher quality as compared to commercial products.
3) Local Solution
Enterprise Departmental Developers that want to find local solutions opt for Open-Source ETL Tools.
4) Smaller Budgets & Fewer Complex Requirements
Companies that do not have complicated requirements tend to opt for Open-Source ETL Tools. This is because these tools accomplish business requirements while keeping their budgets in check.
Top 11 Popular Open-Source ETL Tools
Choosing the best Open-Source ETL Tool for your business requirements can be a daunting task as each tool has its advantages and disadvantages. Generally, companies would like to opt for tools that are regularly monitored by the community and bring in new features too.
Here is a comprehensive list of the Top 11 Popular Open-Source ETL Tools:
1) Hevo Data
Hevo allows you to replicate data in near real-time from 150+ sources to the destination of your choice including Snowflake, BigQuery, Redshift, Databricks, and Firebolt. Without writing a single line of code. Finding patterns and opportunities is easier when you don’t have to worry about maintaining the pipelines. So, with Hevo as your data pipeline platform, maintenance is one less thing to worry about.
For the rare times things do go wrong, Hevo ensures zero data loss. To find the root cause of an issue, Hevo also lets you monitor your workflow so that you can address the issue before it derails the entire workflow. Add 24*7 customer support to the list, and you get a reliable tool that puts you at the wheel with greater visibility. Check Hevo’s in-depth documentation to learn more.
If you don’t want SaaS tools with unclear pricing that burn a hole in your pocket, opt for a tool that offers a simple, transparent pricing model. Hevo has 3 usage-based pricing plans starting with a free tier, where you can ingest upto 1 million records.
Hevo was the most mature Extract and Load solution available, along with Fivetran and Stitch but it had better customer service and attractive pricing. Switching to a Modern Data Stack with Hevo as our go-to pipeline solution has allowed us to boost team collaboration and improve data reliability, and with that, the trust of our stakeholders on the data we serve.– Juan Ramos, Analytics Engineer, Ebury
Check out how Hevo empowered Ebury to build reliable data products here.Sign up here for a 14-Day Free Trial!
2) Apache Camel
Apache Camel is an Open-Source framework that helps you integrate different applications using multiple protocols and technologies. It helps configure routing and mediation rules by providing a Java-object-based implementation of Enterprise Integration Patterns (EIP), declarative Java-domain specific language, or by using an API.
Apache Camel uses more than 100 components including FTP, JMX, and HTTP. It uses Uniform Resource Indicators (URI) to provide information such as which components are being used, the context path, and which options are applied on what components.
Airbyte is one of the newest Open-Source ETL Tools that was launched in July 2020. It differs from other ETL tools as it provides connectors that are usable out of the box through a UI and API that allows community developers to monitor and maintain the tool.
The connectors run as Docker containers and can be built in the language of your choice. By providing modular components and optional feature subsets, Airbyte provides more flexibility.
Currently, Airbyte has 3 pricing models: Community, Standard, and Enterprise depending on the number of connectors, the number of seats needed and the number of premium features activated.
4) Apache Kafka
Apache Kafka is an Open-Source Data Streaming Tool written in Scala and Java. It publishes and subscribes to a stream of records in a fault-tolerant manner and provides a unified, high-throughput, and low-latency platform to manage data.
Apache Kafka can be used as a message bus, a buffer for systems and events processing, and to decouple applications from databases for both OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) and Data Warehouses.
Logstash is an Open-Source Data Pipeline that extracts data from multiple data sources and transforms the source data and events and loads them into ElasticSearch, a JSON-based search, and analytics engine. It is part of the ELK Stack. The “E” stands for ElasticSearch and the “K” stands for Kibana, a Data Visualization engine.
It is written in Ruby and is a pluggable JSON framework that consists of more than 200 plugins to cater to the ETL process across a wide variety of inputs, filters, and outputs. It can be used as a BI tool or even as a Data Warehouse.
Currently, Logstash is part of ElasticSearch and comes in 4 pricing packages, namely Standard, Gold, Platinum, and Enterprise. The Standard edition is $16 per month, the Gold edition is $19 per month, the Platinum edition is $22 per month and the Enterprise edition is $30 per month.
6) Pentaho Kettle
Pentaho Kettle is now a part of the Hitachi Vantara Community and provides ETL capabilities using a metadata-driven approach. It has a graphical drag and drop UI and standard architecture. This tool allows users to create their own data manipulation jobs without writing a single line of code. Hitachi Vantara also offers Open-Source BI tools for reporting and Data Mining that work seamlessly with Pentaho Kettle.
Currently, Pentaho Kettle provides a 30-day free trial period. The exact pricing details are not disclosed.
7) Talend Open Studio
Talend Open Studio is a free and Open-Source ETL Tool that provides its users a graphical design environment, ETL and ELT support, and enables them to export and execute standalone jobs across runtime environments. It has a wide range of connectors for RDBMS, SaaS, Packaged applications, Dropbox, LDAP, FTP, and many more. It also offers Open-Source solutions for Data Preparation and Data Quality.
Currently, Talend offers 5 pricing models. These include Talend Open Source (Free for everyone), Stitch Data Loader (Free 14-Day Trial), Talend Pipeline Designer (Free 14-Day Trial), Talend Cloud Data Integration (Free 14-Day Trial), and Talend Data Fabric (Contact Sales).
Some Open-Source ETL Tools have a command line interface. Singer is one such tool that uses a command-line interface to allow users to build modular ETL Pipelines using its “Tap” and “Target” modules. Singer provides a framework that allows users to connect data sources to storage locations directly.
With a large collection of pre-built taps, scripts can be defined for ETL processes and users can write concise, single-line ETL processes that can easily be modified by swapping taps and targets.
KETL is a production-ready ETL platform designed to assist the development and deployment of Data Integration processes. It allows users to use an Open-Source platform to manage complex data. The KETL engine consists of a multi-threaded server to manage different job executors. Job executors fall into several categories including SQL, OS, XML, Sessionizer, and Empty.
10) Apache NiFi
Apache NiFi allows you to automate and manage the flow of information systems. It also enables NiFi to be an effective platform for building scalable and powerful dataflows. NiFi follows the fundamental concept of Flow-Based Programming. It has a highly configurable web-based UI, and houses features such as Data Provenance, Extensibility, and Security features.
The pricing details of Apache NiFi depend on the configuration costs you want. It can be purchased in the AWS Marketplace. The Professional edition costs $0.25 per hour if you purchase it with an AWS account.
CloverDX is one of the first Open-Source ETL Tools. It has a Java-based Data Integration framework that is designed to transform, map and manipulate data of various formats. It can be used as a standalone system or be embedded with other databases and files such as RDBMS, JMS, SOAP, HTTP, FTP, and many more.
Although CloverDX is no longer offered by the provider, you can download it from this link.
Currently, CloverDX has 2 pricing models, CloverDX Designer and CloverDX Server. Each has a 45-day trial period and fixed prices after the trial are completed. You can talk to CloverDX Tech Support in case you face any issues.
Limitations of Open-Source ETL Tools
Although Open-Source ETL Tools can provide a solid backbone for your Data Pipeline, they have few limitations especially when it comes to providing support. As these tools are work-in-progress tools many of them are not fully developed and are not compatible with multiple data sources. Some of the limitations of Open-Source ETL Tools include:
- Enterprise Application Connectivity: Companies are not able to connect a few of their applications with Open-Source ETL Tools.
- Management & Error Handling Capabilities: Open-Source ETL Tools are not able to handle errors easily due to their lack of error handling capabilities.
- Non-RDBMS Connectivity: Some Open-Source ETL Tools are not able to connect with a variety of RDBMS and can hamper the performance of the Data Pipeline when data is collected from these data sources.
- Large Data Volumes & Small Batch Windows: Some Open-Source ETL Tools need to analyze large data volumes but can process the data in small batches only. This can reduce the efficiency of the Data Pipeline.
- Complex Transformation Requirements: Companies that have complex transformation needs cannot use Open-Source ETL Tools. This is because they often lack support for performing complex transformations.
- Lack of Customer Support Teams: As Open-Source ETL Tools are managed by communities and developers all around the world, they do not have specific customer support teams to handle issues.
- Poor Security Features: Being Open-Source causes these tools to have poor security infrastructure and become prone to many cyber attacks.
This article gave a comprehensive list of the Top 11 Open-Source ETL Tools. It also provided you with a brief overview of the ETL process. It further explained the features and pricing models for a few of the tools. Finally, it highlighted some of the limitations of these tools. Overall, Open-Source ETL Tools play a pivotal role in the field of Data Analytics today due to their regular development and cheaper prices.
Paid ETL Tools are also important as they provide better features and insights from their customers. At the end, whether you opt for a Paid ETL Tool or an Open-Source Tool, you can be rest assured that the quality of your data will never get compromised.
You can now also learn about the best ETL tools that are currently available in the market. Based on your requirements, you can leverage one of these to boost your productivity through a marked improvement in operational efficiency.
In case you want to integrate data into your desired Database/destination, then Hevo Data is the right choice for you!
It will help simplify the ETL and management process of both the data sources and the data destinations.
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Share your experience of learning about the popular Open-Source ETL Tools in the comments section below!