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December 18, 2009

On a Couple of Misconceptions About ETL Tools

Filed under: Data Integration, ETL, Open Source — Tags: , — Olga Belokurskaya @ 8:20 am

When deciding to start a data integration process, many companies consider using ETL tools instead of hand-coding. Such a decision is justified by the fact – and many data integration experts agree with it – that hand coding is error prone, takes time and additional resources, etc. However, it’s also wrong to assume that an ETL tool will help to finish data integration project sooner, or will result in some substantial cost savings, according to a TDWI.

Their point is that though ETL tools definitely accelerate the process of data integration at some level, one should not leave aside time that is to be spent on ETL tools evaluation, selection, and implementation.

Another deception is about cost savings. The acquisition cost of ETL tools is quite sufficient, and the annual support cost is often overlooked when a decision is being made on selection and implementation of an ETL tool. Thus, companies have a bit wrong idea about the amount of savings they might have.

The misconceptions described above, are a source of inappropriate expectations, and as a result, wrong assessment of data integration initiative expenses, and at worst, failed data integration initiative.

I think, the situation’s a bit different, when we speak about open source ETL tools. First, there’s no such thing as annual support cost. Huge developer and user communities make it possible to receive support from other users, without paying for it. Then, license costs of open source ETL solutions are really low, which allows to redirect the released budget where there would be a demand for additional finance. So, here I see a real possibility to reduce the cost of data integration with the help of ETL tools.

What I agree with, is that selection process will take time, as well as deployment (including user training), though open source solutions are typically easier to deploy, compared to proprietary ETL tools. Companies should take time for proper evaluation of ETL tools, either open source or proprietary; and I do agree that the decision should be taken based on whether an ETL tool fits this peculiar company’s business needs best and is capable to provide a company with help in achieving their goals.

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