All ETL tool comparison

AWS Glue vs. Airflow vs. Airbyte

A detailed comparison of AWS Glue vs Airflow vs Airbyte.

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AWS Glue
AWS Glue
AWS Glue

Getting information from different sources, organizing it, and making it usable is a big deal. Choosing the right tool designed to help with this process can really make a difference in how well things go.

This article compares three popular data integration tools—AWS Glue vs Apache Airflow vs Airbyte. Each tool has its own strengths, weaknesses, and best-use scenarios. By exploring their features, drawbacks, and costs, you'll gain insights into which tool best suits your needs.  

AWS Glue Overview

AWS Glue

AWS Glue, a fully managed ETL service by Amazon Web Services (AWS), aims to simplify your data extraction, transformation, and loading for analytics. It automates the ETL process, allowing you to set up, schedule, and monitor workflows for data preparation. Glue supports various data sources and formats, including relational databases, data lakes, and streaming data. This flexibility enables you to integrate different data types into your analytics pipeline seamlessly.

Key Features

  • Data Catalog: AWS Glue provides a centralized metadata repository, the Glue Data Catalog, storing metadata information about your data assets. This enables you to discover, search, and manage datasets efficiently. 
  • ETL Job Creation: You can create ETL jobs visually using the AWS Glue console or programmatically using APIs. These jobs define the steps for extracting, transforming, and loading data. 
  • Serverless Execution: AWS Glue offers serverless infrastructure, eliminating the need for you to provision or manage servers. It automatically scales resources based on workload demands, resulting in cost savings and simplified management.
  • Integration with AWS Services: AWS Glue seamlessly integrates with other AWS services, such as Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon RDS, enabling you to build end-to-end data pipelines. By utilizing the full capabilities of the AWS ecosystem, you can create robust and scalable data solutions that meet your business needs.

Airflow Overview


Apache Airflow is an open-source platform for orchestrating complex workflows and data pipelines. It allows you to easily schedule, monitor, and manage your workflows. With Apache Airflow, you can define your workflows as Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs), where tasks are organized to represent dependencies and execution order. This flexible and extensible architecture makes it suitable for various use cases, from simple data transformations to complex machine-learning pipelines.

Key Features

  • Workflow Orchestration: Apache Airflow provides a rich set of operators for defining tasks within workflows. You can define dependencies between tasks, manage task execution, and handle task retries and failures. 
  • Dynamic Workflows: Airflow supports dynamic DAG generation, allowing you to create workflows programmatically based on parameters or external conditions. This flexibility lets you adapt your workflows to changing data requirements or business logic.
  • Extensibility: It is highly extensible, with a rich ecosystem of plugins and integrations. You can extend Airflow’s functionality by writing custom operators, sensors, and hooks or integrating third-party systems and services.
  • Monitoring and Alerting: Apache Airflow provides a web-based user interface for monitoring and managing workflows. You can view task execution logs, track progress, and receive alerts for failures or anomalies. This visibility into workflow execution helps you diagnose issues and optimize performance.

Airbyte Overview


Airbyte is a modern ELT platform designed to simplify data integration processes. It offers a user-friendly interface and strong features for building, managing, and monitoring data pipelines. Airbyte provides cloud-native and open-source solution for ingesting and syncing data from various sources to destinations. It aims to democratize data integration by offering a simple yet powerful platform that caters to technical and non-technical users.

Key Features

  • Different UI Options: Airbyte offers multiple options to handle your data pipelines, catering to both visual and programmatic interfaces. These options include UI for simplicity, API as well as Terraform Provider for programmatic control, and PyAirbyte for Python scripting.
  • Diverse Data Formats: Airbyte supports a wide range of data formats, giving you the ability to work with structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data types. You can also integrate with JSON, CSV, Feather, Excel, and Parquet.
  • Open Source: Airbyte is an open-source data integration platform. This fosters collaboration and innovation within the data community, allowing you to customize and extend Airbyte to suit your specific needs. 
  • Serverless Architecture: It is built on a serverless architecture, which means you don't need to provision or manage infrastructure. Airbyte automatically scales resources based on workload demands, ensuring optimal performance and cost efficiency.
  • Change Data Capture (CDC): With CDC, you can ensure real-time data replication, keeping your data synchronized across different systems as changes occur. This feature streamlines data synchronization, ensuring your data remains up-to-date without manual intervention.

AWS Glue vs Airflow vs Airbyte: Key Differences

Here's a comparative analysis table:

Criteria AWS Glue Apache Airflow Airbyte
Ease of Use Spark Web UI Learning curve for setup and configuration Intuitive interface
Scalability Serverless architecture, scalable resources Horizontal scalability with multiple workers Serverless architecture, scalable resources
Flexibility Integration with AWS services Extensible architecture, custom operators Modular architecture, custom connectors, multiple deployment options
Data Replication Built-in replication capabilities Requires custom development or integration with third-party tools for replication CDC with Full Refresh and incremental sync options
Community Support Strong AWS community Large open-source community Growing community with over 800+ contributors
Integration Capabilities Seamless integration with AWS services Integration with third-party tools and services Over 350+ pre-built connectors
Use Cases ETL Processes Workflow orchestration Simplified data integration, especially for ELT processes
Monitoring and Logging Built-in monitoring and logging features Integration with external monitoring tools Basic monitoring and logging capabilities
Extensibility Limited extensibility with predefined features Highly extensible with custom operators Custom connectors and PyAirbyte library
Cost-effectiveness Pay-per-use pricing model Open-source with no licensing fees For small data transfer, use open-source. Also, offers a cloud deployment option for replicating enormous datasets.


AWS Glue vs Apache Airflow vs Airbyte: Major Comparisons

Here is a detailed comparison of the significant features of AWS Glue vs Apache Airflow vs Airbyte:

AWS Glue vs Apache Airflow vs Airbyte: Connectors

AWS Glue offers seamless integration with various AWS services, enabling easy connectivity and integration of data from sources like Amazon S3, Amazon RDS, and Amazon Redshift. Its data catalog facilitates efficient data discovery and access, making it convenient if you are already within the AWS ecosystem. However, you may find limited flexibility when integrating with non-AWS data sources.

As Airflow is an orchestration tool, it does not provide any pre-built connectors. Instead, it provides a flexible approach through in-built operators, allowing you to connect with a variety of databases, APIs, and cloud services. With operators like Python, Bash, and KubernetesPod, you can streamline data integration workflows to suit your specific requirements and scale deployments accordingly.

Airbyte offers a growing library of 350+ pre-built connectors and a unique approach with its Connector Development Kit (CDK) to create custom connectors. This flexibility makes Airbyte suitable if your organization needs tailored data integration solutions beyond standard connectors. While AWS Glue and Apache Airflow focus on integration within their respective ecosystems, Airbyte offers a more agnostic approach, catering to a wider range of integration needs.

AWS Glue vs Apache Airflow vs Airbyte: Use Cases

AWS Glue is well-suited if your business utilizes the AWS ecosystem for its data infrastructure. It is particularly beneficial if you're handling data warehousing, data lake analytics, and Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) processes. By seamlessly integrating with various AWS services, AWS Glue simplifies your data management and processing tasks within the AWS environment.

On the other hand, Apache Airflow orchestrates complex data workflows and pipelines, making it ideal for users who require flexibility and control over their data integration processes. Use cases for Apache Airflow include workflow orchestration, data pipeline automation, and task scheduling. Its extensible architecture and wide range of operators empower you to build and manage diverse data workflows efficiently.

Comparatively, Airbyte is primarily used for data ingestion, focusing on simplicity and ease of use. It is primarily used for the ELT process, allowing you to seamlessly move data into your warehouses or lakes from various sources before any complex transformations. You can also integrate Airbyte with dbt to perform complex transformations.

AWS Glue vs Apache Airflow vs Airbyte: Privacy and Security

AWS Glue prioritizes data security and offers robust security features to protect sensitive information. It provides encryption mechanisms for data at rest and in transit, ensuring data confidentiality. Additionally, AWS Glue implements access control policies and compliance certifications, such as SOC 2 and HIPAA, to meet regulatory requirements and industry standards.

On the flip side, Airflow is an open-source that includes several security measures to safeguard your data and workflows. It offers audit logs for tracking user activities and changes made to workflows. Airflow also has authentication mechanisms, such as OAuth and LDAP, providing secure access control. And for secure communication and compliance with security protocols, it supports SSL encryption. Overall, the level of security in Airflow for data management activities depends on how you enforce security measures.

Comparatively, Airbyte implements robust security measures like audit logging to protect your data integrity and confidentiality. It also supports authentication mechanisms like OAuth and API keys for secure access control. Additionally, Airbyte encrypts data in transit using TLS/SSL protocols to prevent unauthorized access during transmission.


When it comes to data integration and workflow management, AWS Glue vs Apache Airflow vs Airbyte offers a range of features, each with its own perks. AWS Glue is recommended if you're already using AWS services, providing a serverless solution for ETL within AWS. Apache Airflow offers flexibility and workflow control, making it efficient for complex data pipelines. 

On the other hand, Airbyte is recommended for its reliable data integration services, intuitive interface, and growing community support. Notably, Airbyte allows you to integrate with AWS as well as other services, making it a versatile choice for diverse integration needs.

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What Airbyte users say

“Airbyte saved us two months of engineering time by not having to build our own infrastructure. We can count on the stability and reliability of Airbyte connectors. Plus, with Airbyte it’s simple to build custom pipelines.”
“With Airbyte, we don’t need to worry about connectors and focus on creating value for our users instead of building infrastructure. That’s priceless. The time and energy saved allows us to disrupt and grow faster.”
"I used Airbyte's connector builder to write 2 connectors. The experience was amazing, the setup was straightforward, and in almost no time I was able to develop a new connector and get it running.”
“Using Airbyte makes extracting data from various sources super easy! I don't have to spend time maintaining difficult data pipelines. Instead, I can use that time to generate meaningful insights from data.”
"Airbyte does a lot of things really well. We just had to set it up, and it ran from there. Even moving 40GB worth of data works just fine without needing to worry about sizing up.”