ETL for API - Use Cases

CEO, Portable

What are ETL and API?

ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) play essential roles in the data management process.

They are responsible for the acquisition, processing, and dissemination of data, and have become indispensable for organizations looking to make informed decisions.

This article explains the differences between ETL and API, and explores how they work, both separately and together to help organizations effectively manage and analyze data.

What is ETL?

ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) is a process in data management that involves extracting data from various sources. It consists of transforming it into a format suitable for analysis and loading it into a data storage system. ETL ensures data reliability, accuracy, and consistency, so that it can be used for decision-making and analysis.


During extraction, data is collected from various sources. These sources can be databases, files, or cloud-based platforms. The data is typically in a raw or unstructured format, making it easy to retrieve it in its original form and transfer it to a temporary storage location.


In this stage, the extracted data is transformed into a format suitable for analysis and loading into a target system. This step also involves cleaning and transforming the data into a consistent structure; data transformation reduces duplicative or missing values, enabling organizations to get the most out of their data.


In the load stage, the transformed data is loaded into the target system, such as a data warehouse or data lake. This stage ensures that the data is stored in a manner that makes it easily accessible for analysis and reporting. The load stage is critical for ensuring that the data is correctly stored and formatted for subsequent analysis.

What is an API?

An API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is a set of protocols, routines, and tools for building software and applications. A popular API is called REST.


REST stands for Representational State Transfer, and is a type of API that uses HTTP requests to GET, PUT, POST, and DELETE data.

REST is an efficient means of communication between different systems and applications. In simple terms, a REST API acts as an intermediary between the client and the server, allowing clients to request information or perform specific actions on the server. It leverages an API call to connect with a system and readily extract targeted information.

ETL Benefits

The ETL process aids organizations in enhancing the quality of their data. This is done by purifying and transforming unrefined data into a structured format. A well-designed structure leads to the production of precise, consistent, and dependable data, providing organizations with the ability to make knowledgeable decisions with valuable data.

Another benefit is that ETL automates routine data processing operations. ETL can provide organizations with the liberation of valuable time and resources. This means the time reduction can be redirected toward pursuing more critical endeavors.

One last benefits of ETL is that it is scalable. It can evolve along with an organization's expansion. And help with providing a sturdy infrastructure to manage large quantities of data efficiently.

API Benefits

APIs allow organizations to access data from various sources. With better access, they can integrate it into their existing systems, making it easier to control different data formats.

One benefit is that APIs provide a standardized interface for connecting systems together. Making it easier to integrate new technologies and systems into existing workflows.

Additionally, APIs provide a flexible and scalable way to access data. With the power of integration, employees can readily access important information. Thus allowing organizations to quickly and easily adapt to changing business needs.

ETL vs ELT for APIs and Data Warehouses

What's the difference between ETL and ELT?

Despite its perceived symmetry. Pulling data from an API into a data warehouse and pushing data to an API from a data warehouse fundamentally require different technologies.

When pushing to a data warehouse from an API (ETL), you are able to define the schema flexibly.

However, when pulling from a warehouse (ELT), you need only specific data to push to your destination, and that comes with more complexity.

  • For instance, if you're trying to retarget an audience, you need to extract the specific fields you need downstream (email, audience_id, etc.)
  • Who's in charge of validating that the email is an actual email address?
  • Who runs the SQL query?
  • Who mitigates the cloud costs of running the query?

When pushing to CDWs, the warehouse can pretty much accept anything. When pulling from CDWs, you need to be very specific with what is extracted to meet the needs of your downstream workflow.

ETL vs. iPaaS

In addition to ETL and ELT, iPaaS is a distinct approach to data processing.

ETL, or Extract-Transform-Load, is a method that consists of pulling data from organic sources (databases, CRMs etc). ETL transforms data into a structured format and loads into a central analytical repository.

In contrast, iPaaS, or Integration Platform as a Service, is a cloud-based solution used to sync data between business applications. These solutions are typically useful for smaller data sets and may not have the scalability to support the same volumes of data as a warehouse-centric architecture. iPaaS and automation solutions can be used to extract data from source systems via APIs, files, webhooks, and other methods. They can also be used to create real-time data pipelines and push information back into business applications such as CRM systems, ERP platforms, and other SaaS applications.

While ETL provides a well-established and proven approach to data processing, iPaaS offers more versatility for simple applications, enabling organizations to manage smaller amounts of data in a lightweight fashion and in real-time.

The choice between ETL and iPaaS should be based on an organization's specific needs and goals. Talk with your team and evaluate your needs before making a decision.

Using ETL Connectors to Extract Data from an API Endpoint

When it comes to extracting data from API endpoints, ETL connectors offer several advantages over manual extraction.

1. Multiple Data Use Cases from Simple to Complex

API connectors are designed to automate and streamline the data extraction process, making it faster, more efficient, and less prone to error. For example, ETL painlessly pulls data from places like GitHub, AWS, Salesforce, or Google Cloud. It can even be used for simple extraction use cases like pulling data out of a CSV file for basic use, rather than writing a Python script.

2. Big Data Set Capabilities

A key benefit of using ETL connectors for extraction is the ability to handle large amounts of API data. ETL connectors can scale to accommodate the growing needs of an organization. Providing the necessary infrastructure to handle massive amounts of data. Without having to sacrifice performance or accuracy.

3. Real-Time Data Transformation

Another advantage of ETL connectors is their ability to perform real-time data transformations. This allows organizations to quickly and easily transfer raw data across the cloud without requiring manual intervention.

4. Enhanced Security and Privacy (Data Governance)

Finally, ETL connectors offer greater security and data privacy. They automatically maintain the integrity of data during the extraction and transformation process. So, adding security to your current protection system can be significant.

5. Data Automation

ETL connectors are a valuable tool for any organization extracting data from API endpoints. It provides organizations with the ability to automate repetitive data processing tasks which enables them to handle large amounts of data with ease.

Best ETL Tools to Extract Data from API

Several popular tools are available in the market to extract data from APIs, each offering its unique features. Let's learn more about how these tools might help streamline data processing for your company below.


An integration tool that features over 300+ data sources. It is ideal for teams looking to generate fast turnaround times for data extraction. Plus, Portable even offers flexible pricing to meet your needs.

Fivetran Lite

Fivetran is now offering lite connectors, which are designed to speed up the API connectivity process. These connectors by Fivetran are intended for partial or specific use cases only.


Offers enterprise clients robust data engineering for transforming data. It allows organizations to govern, integrate, and deploy their data in the cloud.


Talend is a drag-and-drop no-code solution. Their platform features comprehensive cloud data integration with options to integrate with popular platforms.

Dell Boomi

Uses minimal code to blend data across hybrid infrastructures. It contains endpoints that are designed to speed up the data-loading process.


An iPaaS platform that uses AI technology. With endpoints, their AI tools can increase the efficiency of data flows.


A platform built for non-technical teams looking to manage data. It features drag-and-drop solutions that support the ETL process.

Supports ETL workflows and their ability to manage data through APIs. Consider using for managing internal and cloud databases.


Offers a Data Integrator and GoldenGate products to control a data ecosystem. It enables teams to govern and profile metadata during extraction.


It uses batch processing to help companies manage their data analytics. Primarily, batching can help companies authenticate large data applications.


An ETL tool used to help SaaS companies replicate their data. It provides support for data warehouses, pipelines, and schemas alike.

IRI Voracity

A data cleansing solution for teams that need to govern their data better. The cleaning solution allows for enriched data that can be used in new ways.


SAP has a suite of tools that help organizations manage cloud-based data. It's the complete platform for validating all of your workflow needs.


Streamlines data workflows by using low-code. With low-code, teams can prevent data loss and take control of their data pipeline.


Offers tools like Azure, Flow, and SSIS to serve your data. Each platform acts as a scalable solution for teams looking to grow.


IBM's web services have products like InfoSphere, DataStage, and App Connect. These products are robust and can help to standardize complex data sets.

Leverage ETL and API for Your Company

In conclusion, ETL and API are crucial components in the modern data landscape. This provides organizations with the necessary infrastructure to handle large amounts of data, ensuring its accuracy, consistency, and reliability for informed decision-making.

Both APIs endpoints and ETL processes enable organizations to interact with software systems seamlessly. Combined with data transformation frameworks like iPaaS and ETL connectors, organizations have the tools needed to maximize insights out of their data.

Understanding these concepts and their applications is imperative because it can significantly benefit organizations in their pursuit of data-driven success.