Behind the scenes in computer ‘engine rooms’, businesses’ functions become electronic
processes. A frequent need is to move selected electronically-held data from
one place to another, making changes to it at some point along the way. The
industry has long-used a loose description for this process: ‘extract,
transform and load’ – or ETL for short. ETL has a low profile, but your
organisation like everyone else’s will be using it. Whenever information (data)
is taken from one file or database into another and a change in format
(transformation) takes place, that is ETL. For instance, ETL is employed when
merging disparate databases or loading a data warehouse from another source.
Yet there are no ETL ‘standards’ at present while new technologies such as
service-oriented architecture (SOA) and enterprise service buses (ESBs) have
propelled ETL to new levels of complexity. So pressure keeps mounting on those
faced with ETL tasks trying to figure out how best to achieve the business
Nor does that paint the whole ETL picture. Once achieved as a sequential task
(‘batch run’), ETL now frequently updates data in real-time, thanks to a
combination of new data legislation and other business imperatives demanding
higher levels of data accuracy at all times. Each personal details change to a
contact database may also immediately update a data warehouse being used in
real-time, the information format having been ‘transformed’ on the way. This
complexity and variety of needs is forcing business who could once get away
with writing their own one-off ETL programs to investigate the multi-function
ETL software market – only to discover ETL software ranging from under $100 to
over $1m with many (but never all) the bells and whistles. Almost all products
offer an important unique feature with some addressing a specific industry’s
need. If you are tasked with finding the right ETL software, a barrier to
selecting the best match for the organisation’s short- and long-term ETL needs
is not even being able to see the wood for the trees. Yet it is a business
imperative to do so.
Clearly, the time is ripe for an informed update on the fast-changing ETL market, which
is precisely what Philip Howard, Bloor’s Research Director for Technology, has
set out to do in his new report.
In Extract, Transform & Load Philip provides a brief
history and ‘state-of-the nation’ for ETL, explaining how we reached where we
are today. His update on the burgeoning and ever more competitive ETL
marketplace will guide you through the complexities and possibilities of ETL.
On the way he reviews over 40 different software products, showing which fits
best in what circumstances. With this as your reference, you will have the
tools you need to understand the ETL state of play and to narrow down your
search for the ETL software most likely to suit to your organisation’s unique needs
– and budget.