Data Lake ETL: How to Choose the Best Tools

CEO, Portable

What Is the Difference Between a Data Lake and a Data Warehouse?

A data lake can store data indefinitely for present or future use and contains all of an organization's data in a raw, unstructured state. Structured data that has been cleaned up and processed and is ready for strategic analysis based on predetermined business requirements can be found in a data warehouse.

What Is a Data Lake?

A Data Lake is a centralized repository where businesses can keep all of their structured, semi-structured and unstructured data, independent of format or source. The purpose of a data lake is to provide a centralized location for data storage in its original format, which can then be processed and analyzed as required.

Data Lakes are usually used in big data environments where the volume and variety of data make traditional data storage techniques difficult to manage. A crucial feature of a Data Lake is that it saves data in its original format, without any transformation or normalization.

Data Lake Use Cases

The primary benefit of a data lake is to view and analyze historical data with various tools and applications. Data Lakes are frequently used for exploratory data analysis and data science projects because they enable data scientists to directly access and manipulate the data.

A healthcare organization, for example, may use a data lake to keep patient records such as medical images, lab reports, and electronic health records. Machine learning algorithms can be used to analyze these records in order to find patterns and trends in patient outcomes.

Another data lake use case could be for talent acquisition. Imagine the possibilities of aggregating insights from applicants and successful new-hires. People leaders could understand common traits, skills, and previous job roles shared by successful candidates --- and that's just the start. 

What Is a Data Warehouse?

A data warehouse is a centralized repository of data that is used for reporting and research. It is intended to aid business decision-making by providing a consolidated view of data from various sources within a company.

Data warehouses usually collect information from transactional systems such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and other operational databases.

Data warehouses are intended for analytical processing, which means they can handle large amounts of data and complicated queries requiring aggregation, grouping, and filtering. The data is organized into a dimensional model, which is a structure that optimizes the data for reporting and analysis.

Dimensions, which are categories or attributes that characterize the data, and measures, which are the numerical data being analyzed, are common components of this structure. Organizations use data warehouses to gain insights into their business operations and make informed decisions based on the data.

They are also used in business intelligence (BI) and data mining, which entail analyzing data to find patterns and trends that can aid in forecasting and planning.
A retail company, for example, may use a Data Warehouse to store e-commerce data such as customer demographics, product sales, and inventory levels. This information can be analyzed to spot trends in customer behavior and sales performance, which can help businesses make decisions about product pricing and inventory management.

FeaturesData LakeData Warehouse
Data typesRaw, unstructured, and semi-structured dataStructured data
Data processingData is kept in its original format, with no transformations.Data is transformed, cleaned, and organized.
Data retrievalAd hoc queries and exploration are possible.Querying and analyzing are greatly simplified.
CostIt is generally less expensive to store big amounts of data.Data translation and optimization can increase the cost.
Use casesData exploration, machine learning, and discoveryAnalytics, business intelligence, and reporting

What Are the Benefits of Using Data Lake ETL?

1. Centralized data storage 

A Data Lake ETL process enables companies to store all of their data, independent of format or data source, in a centralized location. This facilitates data management and analysis and allows companies to take a comprehensive view of their data assets.

2. Improved data quality

Data Lake ETL procedures can aid in data quality improvement by cleaning and normalizing data as it is extracted and transformed. This reduces the possibility of data errors and inconsistencies and guarantees that users are working with high-quality data.

3. Agility 

Data Lake ETL enables agile data processing, allowing organizations to react rapidly to changing business needs. With Data Lake ETL, companies can swiftly and efficiently adapt to new data sources and formats, allowing for more timely and accurate decision-making.

4. Flexible data processing

Organizations can process and evaluate data in a variety of formats thanks to Data Lake ETL processes' ability to handle both structured and unstructured data. Organizations can explore and experiment with their data using this adaptability to find new prospects and insights.

5. Scalability 

Data Lake ETL processes can manage large amounts of data, which is critical in big data environments. Organizations can quickly and effectively process and analyze significant amounts of data thanks to this scalability.

How Does Data Lake ETL Work?

Extract, Transform, Load or ETL is a method for transferring and transforming data from various sources into a data lake environment. This is how it usually goes:


Data extraction from various sources, including databases, files, APIs, and streaming sources, is the first stage in the Data Lake ETL process. Usually in raw form, this material may be either structured or unstructured.


The data is transformed into an analysis-ready version after it has been extracted. This may entail conducting data quality checks, data validation, and data standardization in addition to cleaning, enriching, and normalizing the data. For the data to be accurate, consistent, and usable, the transformation phase is essential.


Data is put into a Data Lake environment, such as a Hadoop cluster or cloud-based data storage, after it has been transformed. For flexibility in data processing and analysis, data is usually stored in its raw format without any predefined schema.

Data processing and analysis 

After the data has been loaded into the Data Lake environment, it can be handled and examined using many different tools and technologies, including Apache Spark, Hive, and Pig. This makes it possible for businesses to gain knowledge and value from their data and to make informed choices.

Data consumption 

Users, including data analysts, data scientists, data engineers, and business users, can use data visualization tools, business intelligence tools, and other applications to ingest processed and analyzed data. Users are then able to learn more about the info and make decisions based on it.

How To Choose a Data Lake ETL Tool

Evaluate your requirements 

Begin by determining the precise criteria for your data lake ETL tool. Consider the volume and variety of data you need to handle, the complexity of your data transformations, your budget, and the technical expertise of your team.

Remember to fully explore ETL use cases that you might not have thought of --- ensuring it meets your business requirements.

Evaluate features 

Look for skills such as data ingestion, data processing, data transformation, data integrity checks, monitoring, and alerting. You should also consider the tool's active maintenance, support, scalability and flexibility.

Consider ease of use 

Take into account the tool's ease of use, including the level of technical expertise needed to operate it. Choose a tool with an easy-to-use interface and minimum coding requirements.

Security and compliance

Make sure the tool you select complies with your security and compliance standards. Take into account elements like data encryption, access restrictions, and adherence to legal requirements like GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS.

While some tools may already have security features built in, others may need further configuration to suit your unique security needs.

Integration with other tools 

Take into account the ETL tool's integration capabilities, as you may need to combine it with other tools in your data pipeline. Look for a tool with pre-built interfaces or APIs for integrating with other tools. In addition, ensure it adopts ETL best practices such as moving only the data you need.

Scalability and performance 

Consider the volume and anticipated growth of your data. Choose a tool that can scale with your company's needs and works well when dealing with large amounts of data. Some tools may be limited in the amount of data they can process, and they may also handle large data sets slowly.

Upfront costs and long-term pricing 

Take into account the tool's price and whether it is in line with your budget. Look for a tool that is affordable, has a high return on investment, and offers excellent value.

It's important to comprehend the pricing structure and any potential hidden costs because some tools may have different pricing models, such as per-user or per volume of data.

Curious about the costs of data warehouses? Our detailed pricing guides have you covered:

Data sources and formats 

Take into account the data sources from which you must take data and the formats in which they are saved. Some tools might only be compatible with a restricted range of data sources or data formats.

It is crucial to make sure the tool you select can connect to, extract data from, and manage the formats of your data sources.

Capabilities for processing data 

Look for tools that can handle complicated data processing needs like data transformations, aggregations, and filtering. To meet your unique data processing requirements, take into account the tool's level of flexibility and customization.

To manage common data processing tasks, some tools might provide pre-built functions or templates, while others might demand more complex programming knowledge.

Top Data Lake ETL tools

1. Portable

Portable is the finest data integration tool for teams that have a large number of long-tail data sources. Portable is an ETL/ELT tool with connectors for over 300 difficult-to-find data sources.

On request, the Portable team will create and manage custom connectors in as little as a few hours.

Top Features

  • Custom data source connectors are created on demand and maintained at no additional cost.

  • Hands-on assistance is accessible around the clock, seven days a week.

  • A large collection of long-tail data connectors that are immediately usable.

2. Oracle Data Integrator

Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) is a data integration tool created and controlled by Oracle Corporation. It is part of Oracle's data integration infrastructure, along with Oracle GoldenGate and Oracle Data Quality.

ODI is designed to assist developers in developing data integration solutions for a wide range of use cases, including data storage, data transfer, and real-time data integration. 

Top Features

  • Training, support, and professional services are all available.

  • Exclusive Licensing.

  • Environment for Design and Development.

  • Out-of-the-box integration with databases, Hadoop, ERPs, CRMs, B2B systems, flat files, XML, JSON, LDAP, JDBC, and ODBC. Java must also be installed.

3. Apache NiFi

The Apache Software Foundation created the Apache NiFi web-based open-source data integration platform, which stands for "Data Flow." The automated data flow between systems simplifies data movement and transformation from multiple sources to multiple destinations.

NiFi incorporates processors for typical duties such as filtering, aggregation, and enrichment.

Top Features

  • Data automation with other tools.

  • Scalability and data protection.

  • Tracking and notification.

  • Open-source and simple to use.

4. Talend

Users can build, develop, and execute data integration and data transformation processes using the open-source data integration platform Jaspersoft ETL (formerly known as Talend Open Studio for Data Integration).

Top Features

  • Process designer with drag-and-drop functionality.

  • The dashboard monitors task execution and performance.

  • ERP and CRM apps such as, SAP, and SugarCRM have native connectivity.

5. Apache Airflow

Apache Airflow is an open-source platform for creating, scheduling, and tracking data processing workflows or pipelines. It enables users to describe workflows as code and offers tools for scheduling and monitoring those workflows.

The modular architecture of Airflow allows for simple integration with a wide variety of external systems and technologies.

Top Features

  • Airflow includes a web-based user interface for tracking the status of workflows and tasks, as well as an integrated system for sending alert emails when activities fail.

  • DAG (directed acyclic graphs) creation in real-time.

  • Rigidity and scalability.

6. AWS Glue

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Glue, a fully controlled extract, transform, and load (ETL) solution, makes data transfer between data storage simple. It provides a simple and scalable paradigm for structuring ETL operations, and it can immediately locate and categorize data to make searching and querying easier.

AWS Glue is designed to make it straightforward and inexpensive for companies to transfer and integrate data across multiple sources and destinations.

Top Features

  • Integration with other Amazon Web Services applications.

  • Integration of data from common data stores and open-source formats.

  • Serverless and high scalability.

7. Informatica 

Informatica PowerCenter, an effective and efficient ETL metadata-driven utility, assists businesses in managing their data integration needs. The scalable, high-performance architecture of PowerCenter enables it to manage and analyze massive amounts of data in real-time.

According to Informatica, the optimal execution percentage is 100%. When compared to previous ETL operations, the directions and software accessibility are significantly improved.

Top Features

  • The system includes high availability and pushdown optimization.

  • Agile procedures and role-based tools.

  • Tools that are both graphical and code-free.

  • Computing on the grid.

8. Hevo

Hevo Data is a data management and integration tool that assists companies in integrating data from multiple sources. Customers do not need to install, configure, or manage the underlying infrastructure because Hevo Data is a cloud-based platform.

Hevo enables near-real-time data copying from over 150 sources, including Snowflake, BigQuery, Amazon Redshift, Databricks, and Firebolt.

Top Features

  • Governance and data integrity.

  • No-code data transformation.

  • Real-time data transfer.

  • 100+ Data Sources Supported

9. Google Cloud Dataflow

Google Cloud's Dataflow tool provides serverless ETL. It supports both stream and batch data processing and does not necessitate the ownership of a server or network. Users instead only pay for the resources they use, which scale instantly based on their needs and workload.

Within the Google Cloud Platform ecosystem, Google Dataflow runs Apache Beam pipelines. Apache provides SDKs for encoding and transferring data sets, both batch, and streaming, in Java, Python, and Go. This enables customers to select the best SDK for defining their data pipelines.

Top Features

  • Cost-effective pricing and Good technical support

  • Provisioning and management of processing tools are automated.

  • To optimize resource utilization, horizontal autoscaling of worker resources is used.

10. is a platform for data integration that enables ETL and ELT workflows. It provides cloud infrastructure and on-premise data integration services.

Top Features

  • Provides no-code and low-code cloud data integration options.

  • For simpler data ingestion, use a universal REST API connector.

  • Transformations between internal databases and cloud warehouses are supported.

11. Matillion

Matillion is a data integration and transformation tool that helps businesses extract data from multiple sources, transform it, and load it into data warehouses.

Top Features

  • An easy-to-use interface for building data integration and transformation processes.

  • Numerous data sources are supported, including relational databases, flat files, and cloud-based data sources such as Amazon S3 and Google Sheets.

  • Built-in data transformation tools such as filtering, pivoting and merging data.

12. IBM InfoSphere DataStage 

IBM InfoSphere DataStage is a data integration and management platform developed by IBM. It is part of the IBM InfoSphere Information Server Suite and is designed to help businesses with data extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) across different systems, databases, and file formats.

Top Features

  • A parallel framework with high performance that can be implemented on-premises or in the cloud.

  • Allows you to quickly and easily deploy integration run time on your chosen cloud environment.

  • Enterprise connectivity as well as extended metadata management.

13. Fivetran

Fivetran, a cloud-based data integration tool, assists companies in automating the transfer of data from multiple sources to a central data repository or another place.

Fivetran's fully controlled, zero-maintenance design allows for autonomous operations such as data deduplication, data translation, and quality reviews.

Top Features

  • Important alerts are always up to current.

  • Personalization and raw data access.

  • Connect any analytics software.

  • Schema mapping and integration monitoring.

  • Data analytics schemas that have already been built.

14. ZigiOps 

ZigiOps is a data integration tool that helps to streamline data workflows across multiple data types. It includes no-code capabilities as well as real-time data integration.

Top Features

  • Intelligent data loss protection.

  • Works for both cloud and on-premise business data.

  • Deep merging, mapping, and filtering functionality.

15. Pentaho 

Pentaho Kettle, also known as Pentaho Data Integration, is a powerful open-source tool for data integration and transformation (PDI).

The Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) model, on which Pentaho Kettle is built, includes data extraction from one or more sources, transformation to meet specific parameters, and loading into a destination.

Top Features

  • Extensibility and scalability.

  • Handling and recovering from errors.

  • Monitoring and batch scheduling.