Can you please define ETL tools?

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An ETL tool offers functionality to extract, transform and load data from one system (aka: the source) into another system (aka: the target). ETL tools are great at modifying data using conversion and transformation rules and then moving the data between systems. ETL tools can deal with different structures (flat files, databases), modifying and moving the data. But beware, they don't interpret the data, which means they're not optimal for application-to-application communications or messaging.

My partner, Evan Levy, gives a great class on this, called Architectural Options for Data Integration, in which he discusses integration alternatives, including ETL, enterprise information integration (EII), enterprise application integration (EAI), customer data integration (CDI) and master data management (MDM) solutions, and compares the pros and cons of each one. I like this class a lot since it annotates how and where each of these technologies should be optimally deployed in the context of both their value and architectural considerations.


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This was first published in June 2007

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