Top 5 ELT Tools For Your Modern Data Stack

CEO, Portable

According to Gartner, The Future of Business Is Composable - There is an explosion of new companies, new products, and new features that will drive innovation and success. But, with more tools comes more complexity.

The number of business applications is exploding - driving significant demand for ELT tools
The number of business applications is exploding - driving significant demand for ELT tools

This complexity has led to the rapid emergence of the Modern Data Stack and demand for ELT tools that centralize data from disparate applications and create sanity from the chaos of applications sprawled across the organization.

But where do you get started when evaluating ELT tools? Which tools should you evaluate? How should you evaluate them? And what is the fastest way to get up to speed on your options?

We'll provide an overview of ELT, how you can evaluate solutions, and the top 5 ELT tools you have to evaluate for your modern data stack in 2022.

Let's start from the top.

What is an ELT Tool?

Check this article to learn in more details:

  1. How ELT tools create value for users
  2. Who uses ELT tools
  3. What data ELT tools can extract
  4. The most common data sources for ELT tools
  5. And, the difference between ETL and ELT

What is ELT? (Extract, Load, Transform)

ELT tools sync raw data from applications across the enterprise into a data warehouse or data lake to power analytics and process automation.

At the highest level.

  • Definition of ELT: Extract, Load, Transform (ELT) tools offer no-code connectors that sync data from systems across the enterprise into a data warehouse or data lake to power analytics and process automation.
  • Value Proposition of ELT: ELT tools improve strategic decision making, reduce work for data teams, and streamline manual workflows.
  • Users of ELT Tools: Data engineers and data analysts manage enterprise data infrastructure, including ELT tools.
  • Common ELT Data Sources: ELT tools pull data from APIs, files, databases, warehouses, event sources, and webhooks. The most common data sources are: product databases, CRM systems, ERP platforms, and HR applications.
  • What is the Difference Between ETL And ELT: Historically, data needed to be transformed before it could fit into a processing environment like a database. With the advent of cloud warehouses, data can be replicated in its raw form directly. ELT tools simply replicate data as-is instead of transforming data while in motion. Nowadays, most data teams use the ELT architecture instead of the legacy ETL architecture in their Modern Data Stack.

How should you select an ELT Tool?

In this other article, we outline the 5 main considerations when selecting an ELT tool.

To quickly recap, the five main considerations when choosing an ELT tool are:

  1. Connectors - Which connectors do they support? Do they cover the core systems you need to stand up your data stack? Can they provide you with connectivity to the long-tail of your organization's applications?
  2. Roadmap - How fast can they build? What's their vision for growing with you as an organization? Are they responsive to requests?
  3. Pricing - How much does the solution cost? Does the pricing model align with your data profile?
  4. Support - How do you know your pipelines will be maintained? Who is 'on call' when things break? Do you have a direct line to someone that can solve your problem?
  5. Security - How does the company approach security, privacy, and compliance? Does it align with your company's particular considerations?

Let's dig into the top 5 ELT tools on the market today.

The Top 5 ELT Tools

If you are ready to invest in an ELT solution, you need a starting point for evaluation. Below, we've outlined some of the key pros and cons of the top 5 ELT platforms on the market today.

1. Fivetran

Fivetran is the most established ELT tool on the market today. They were founded in 2012, they were one of the early players in the ELT market as the shift took place from ETL to ELT, and they provide a robust and reliable solution for core ELT connectors.

Fivetran is known to provide reliable cloud-hosted pipes for the largest databases and business applications - connecting these data sources to the common data warehouses and data lakes. In 2021, Fivetran acquired HVR to double down on these high volume connectors, and database syncing specifically.

In many scenarios, data teams that have access to budget (it's not cheap) will use Fivetran to stand up their modern data stack with core connectors to the largest applications within the enterprise. As needs expand, and long-tail business applications become important, it's common for data teams to augment Fivetran with additional ELT capabilities.

2. Stitch Data

Stitch Data played a similar role to Fivetran in the shift from ETL to ELT. In 2018, Stitch was acquired by Talend. This has led to changes in the team, and a divergence in the support model between Stitch-supported and community-supported connectors.

From a technical perspective, Stitch pioneered the open source model for modern ELT. With an open connector framework called Singer, Stitch provided the ability for community members to build and maintain their own connectors. This community has developed, but in recent years, it has seen less investment that other open source communities in the space.

Stitch is a cost-effective solution for small data teams that don't want to spend much money on an ELT solution, but want a no-code vendor to provide core ELT connectors. As a tradeoff, when things go wrong, data teams end up working with the community to address issues.

3. Airbyte

Airbyte is a recent addition to the ELT landscape, and the company has raised significant capital, very quickly. From a technical perspective, the Airbyte open source framework is not too dissimilar from the Singer framework developed by Stitch (overview of why).

For teams that want to deploy their own infrastructure, build their own connectors, and work with open source code directly, Airbyte is the most well-capitalized solution on the market. The connector catalog is on par with Singer, but support levels and investment are on the upswing while the Singer open source ecosystem sees less investment.

Airbyte recently released a cloud solution, which is new, and competes on the common connectors you'll find from Fivetran, Stitch, and other core ELT solutions.

4. Matillion

Matillion is different from the other solutions on this list because they started as an ETL tool instead of as an ELT tool. They've been around for a while.

Founded in 2011, Matillion has been solving data integration problems for large enterprises for over a decade. In addition to native transformations, one of the most unique aspects of Matllion is that the entire solution can be deployed on-prem, or in a cloud environment (even though the technology is not open source).

The enterprise flexibility, available transformation capabilities, and deployment model, can make Matillion less approachable than the other tools on this list, but great to get started with large enterprise use cases.

5. Portable

Portable is focused on long-tail ELT connectors. As data teams aim to connect more and more applications to their data warehouse, they need to constantly search for a partner that can provide these bespoke connectors.

Built from the realization that every ELT company was building the same 150 connectors, Portable has focused on building a platform on which new custom ETL connectors can be built on-demand for clients in hours or days.

So, even in scenarios where you are using Fivetran, Stitch, Airbyte, or Matillion, Portable is the perfect solution to provide a no-code integration experience to bespoke business applications quickly. It's extremely simple to get started.

Even though Portable is most recent addition to the ELT landscape on this list - with over 230+ connectors - Portable has more cloud-hosted, no-code connectors than every other company on this list.

Want to learn more about Portable? Book time for a discussion or a demo directly on my calendar