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 needs.
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.