Top ETL Tools

Top 10 ETL Tools for Data Integration

Alternatives to Google Sheets for Data Analysis

February 6, 2024

Streamlined data has become more imperative in today’s digital landscape than ever. It ensures a better understanding of pre-existing information and helps analyze data in a structured fashion. Today, businesses extensively use data analytics to gain valuable insights and draw meaningful conclusions, which can only be achieved through seamless data integration.

Google Sheets is a popular spreadsheet used to analyze data. However, with the advent of different spreadsheets having better features, more is needed to cater to expanding business needs. In this article, you will understand what Google Sheets is, its significant drawbacks for data analysis, and other alternative options.

Google Sheets Overview

Introduced in 2016, Google Sheets is an online spreadsheet tool developed by Google within its drive service. It consists of rows and columns and allows you to insert, update, edit, organize, and share different types of data with multiple users. It facilitates real-time data collaboration and file formatting that can be easily tracked from any device. In addition, it also provides assistive features such as adding comments to selective data, auto-update, and offline editing to ensure the smooth functioning of data.

Google Sheets can also be linked to other Google applications, which helps save time and allows quick access and interlinking of data across various platforms like Google Docs and Slides. This integration of Google Sheets with in-built or third-party add-ons further extends its functionality, offering you a wide range of specialized tools to tailor your spreadsheet experience to specific necessities.

Major Drawbacks of Using Google Sheets for Data Analysis

Using Google Sheets for data analysis has advantages, such as online data formatting, offline editing, and multiple-user access. However, it has various drawbacks when delivering advanced data insights and building complex databases.

  • Inefficient to Handle Large Datasets: When you store extensive datasets on Google Sheets, accessing them becomes a cumbersome task. Moreover, it may lead to delayed response, system slowdown, and errors during data analysis.
  • Limited Analytical Tools: The availability of advanced data analytical tools is crucial to performing complex data analysis and making data-driven decisions. Google Sheets does not have proper data modeling tools and complex statistical functions, making it less suitable for professional environments.
  • Compromised Security: Google Sheets can be shared via email, making it vulnerable and accessible to unauthorized users, thus compromising the security of an organization’s data. Therefore, one needs to be cautious while sharing and editing data.

Top 6 Google Sheets Alternatives

Spreadsheets are integral tools businesses use to organize and analyze data. While Google Sheets are widely used for data storage and visualization, it also has a set of drawbacks that render it inconvenient with growing business models. Below are six robust tools you can use as an alternative to Google Sheets based on your needs and business requirements.

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel, an online spreadsheet editor, is an advanced data analysis and visualization tool. It is a widely used spreadsheet application for its excellent data organization and management capabilities. You can store, edit, and analyze data in Excel using its wide range of functions and formulas to implement better business propositions.

Key Features:

  • Data Storage: In Microsoft Excel, the maximum sheet size is 10,48,576 rows by 16,384 columns, which allows it to handle large volumes of data. This enables data processing to be done faster and in a structured manner. 
  • Advanced Data Analysis Tools: It offers a wide range of tools, such as charts, pivot tables, Xlookup functions, and array formulas, which makes the data analysis process streamlined. It also provides customized features like What-If Analysis, enabling you to draw insights through test scenarios.

Pricing: You can sign into Microsoft Excel and use its online free version. However, to employ the advanced tools and functions you should go for its paid desktop version, available at $20.81/ month, as it offers a more comprehensive set of features like Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which is extensively used in data analytics.

Airtable

Airtable is a dynamic combination of spreadsheet and database management solutions that allows you to store and visualize data in a tabular format. Unlike traditional databases, Airtable is equipped with flexible and collaborative features, allowing you to customize information with advanced data fields, mentions, and comments for efficient data management.

Key Features:

  • Data Security: This is one of the most impressive features offered by Airtable, as it enables you to share projects with specific collaborators and grants different levels of access to them. It allows you to secure files and confidential data through two-factor authentication (2FA) and also ensures access restriction by creating password-protected share links.
  • Simplified Data Tracking: Airtable can handle multiple projects efficiently, and you can easily keep track of changes made in the specific tables and records, making the complete process transparent.

Pricing: Airtable offers various subscription plans for personal and professional needs. It has a Business Plan available for $45 per seat/month billed annually, which is an ideal plan to suffice all your business needs. However, it also has a free version, which can be accessed by signing on to the Airtable platform. 

Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a SaaS application offering a centralized workspace. It enables you to build, track, integrate, and manage projects effectively. With its user-friendly interface, multiple collaborators can seamlessly plan and prioritize tasks. 

Key Features:

  • Seamless Task Automation: Smartsheet enhances productivity and efficiency by automating repetitive tasks. This visual tool facilitates data recording, status reviews, and resource assignment. In addition, it keeps team members well-informed of the changes in the data and reminds them of the deadlines.
  • Efficient Project Management: Smartsheet has different views like the calendar, Gantt charts, and Kanban view, which helps plan and execute data seamlessly. 
  • Advanced-Data Integration: With Smartsheets, you can integrate third-party applications like Salesforce, Slack, and Jira into your existing workflow. This helps elevate your collaboration beyond project management by unifying data across multiple platforms.

Pricing: Smartsheet offers a paid subscription for businesses under the Business Plan, which comes at $25 per user/month billed yearly. However, you can also utilize its free version on a trial basis.

Apple Numbers

Launched in 2007 for Mac OS, Numbers is a spreadsheet application developed as a part of the iWork productivity suite. Similar to the alternatives mentioned above, Numbers provides you with essential spreadsheet functions such as formulating tables, manipulating data arranged in rows and columns, or analyzing numbers with charts from its ready-to-use templates. With its high visual appeal, which can be seen in the charts and tables, Numbers provides a stylish yet simple interface.

Key Features:

  • Data Analysis: Numbers has various data analysis and visualization features, such as interactive charts and pivot tables, which bring the numbers to life. It has a Smart Categories feature, which performs auto data analysis, and has useful statistical functions and math equations such as RegEx and LaTeX or MathML, which help you achieve quick data analysis. 
  • Selective Collaboration: Apple's Numbers has a dedicated option for collaboration that allows you to invite others to collaborate with them on a spreadsheet. It also offers compatibility with Microsoft Excel, allowing spreadsheets to be emailed in Excel format in a single step or shared through Numbers for iCloud. 

Pricing: It is freely available and accessible online to anyone with an Apple account.

Zoho Sheet

Zoho Sheet is an online spreadsheet application offering creative and compatible data management and visualization features. Using Zoho sheet, you can simply create, share, and record data in one place. You can also discuss and prepare reports with your team in real time and get them reviewed for better insights.

Key Features:

  • Inbuilt Data Analyst: One feature that makes Zoho Sheet distinct is its personal data analyst, Zia. Zia is an AI-powered assistant adept at analyzing and managing the quality of your data and inputs. It also assists in fetching information, taking notes, deriving meaningful insights, and suggesting better strategies by visualizing charts and tables. 
  • Exclusive Features: Zoho Sheets offers more than 350 predefined functions to perform basic to complex calculations. Apart from data visualization, it has troubleshooting formulas like the Solver function and Goal Seeker, which help resolve variable errors to optimize solutions.

Pricing: Zoho Sheet comes with a paid version, and if you are looking to buy one for smooth business projects, then the Zoho Sheet Business Plan is ideal for you. You can also access its free version by signing up on its website.

Jotform Tables

Jotform is a web-based application designed to analyze data and streamline workflow. It is easily accessible and lets you organize, edit, and share data with multiple users in real time. It also has filters, formulas, and color-coded labels that allow you to segregate and simplify data. Jotform tables can synchronize with over 100 applications. You can also create your Jotform integration and connect it with your existing tools.

Key Features:

  • Robust Template Collection: More than 10,000 form templates are available in Jotform's vast template collection. They are neatly organized into specific categories to ensure quick access to different styles and colors. 
  • Inbuilt Analytics Form: Jotform tables have a separate analytics form that helps you derive insights from pre-existing data to make data-driven decisions. It presents data visually appealingly through bar graphs and pie charts, making it effortless to navigate specific data.

Pricing: Jotform offers multiple subscriptions to cater to every business application. You can pick any of its three significant plans—Jotform Bronze Plan: $34/month, Jotform Silver Plan: $39/month, and Jotform Gold Plan: $99/month. You can also use its free version, which is accessible just by signing in to the Jotform.

Enhancing Data-Driven Analysis with Airbyte

While the above-listed solutions are a great alternative to Google Sheets for analytics, you should instead use BI tools like Power BI and Tableau for advanced analytics. However, in either of the scenarios, if you want to achieve robust data integration, automated data pipelines, and scalability, Airbyte is an efficient solution that effectively handles diverse datasets. This platform allows you to consolidate data from disparate sources into a data warehouse. From the data warehouse, you can seamlessly connect to BI tools for in-depth analysis.

Airbyte has a robust catalog of 300+ pre-built connectors, which you can use to move data between multiple sources and destinations, including Google Sheets and many more. Its no-code approach and intuitive interface allow you to extract and organize structured and unstructured data from various sources. 

With Airbyte, you can build your data pipelines effortlessly, as the setup is reliable and straightforward. Look no further if you want to spend more time analyzing data to draw relevant insights and less time to integrate and organize information.

The Final Word

Spreadsheets are a vital tool that you can utilize to make data-driven decisions. While Google Sheets offers some excellent features to manage and visualize data, other emerging alternatives provide a more comprehensive and advanced data analysis framework. However, choosing the right tool will assist you in making informed decisions and extracting valuable insights from your data.

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TL;DR

The most prominent ETL and ELT tools to transfer data from include:

  • Airbyte
  • Fivetran
  • Stitch
  • Matillion
  • These ETL and ELT tools help in extracting data from and other sources (APIs, databases, and more), transforming it efficiently, and loading it into a database, data warehouse or data lake, enhancing data management capabilities. Airbyte distinguishes itself by offering both a self-hosted open-source platform and a Cloud one..

    What is ETL?

    ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) is a process used to extract data from one or more data sources, transform the data to fit a desired format or structure, and then load the transformed data into a target database or data warehouse. ETL is typically used for batch processing and is most commonly associated with traditional data warehouses.

    What is ELT?

    More recently, ETL has been replaced by ELT (Extract, Load, Transform). ELT Tool is a variation of ETL one that automatically pulls data from even more heterogeneous data sources, loads that data into the target data repository - databases, data warehouses or data lakes - and then performs data transformations at the destination level. ELT provides significant benefits over ETL, such as:

    • Faster processing times and loading speed
    • Better scalability at a lower cost
    • Support of more data sources (including Cloud apps), and of unstructured data
    • Ability to have no-code data pipelines
    • More flexibility and autonomy for data analysts with lower maintenance
    • Better data integrity and reliability, easier identification of data inconsistencies
    • Support of many more automations, including automatic schema change migration

    For simplicity, we will only use ETL as a reference to all data integration tools, ETL and ELT included, to integrate data from .

    How data integration from to a data warehouse can help

    Companies might do ETL for several reasons:

    1. Business intelligence: data may need to be loaded into a data warehouse for analysis, reporting, and business intelligence purposes.
    2. Data Consolidation: Companies may need to consolidate data with other systems or applications to gain a more comprehensive view of their business operations
    3. Compliance: Certain industries may have specific data retention or compliance requirements, which may necessitate extracting data for archiving purposes.

    Overall, ETL from allows companies to leverage the data for a wide range of business purposes, from integration and analytics to compliance and performance optimization.

    Criterias to select the right ETL solution for you

    As a company, you don't want to use one separate data integration tool for every data source you want to pull data from. So you need to have a clear integration strategy and some well-defined evaluation criteria to choose your ETL solution.

    Here is our recommendation for the criteria to consider:

    • Connector need coverage: does the ETL tool extract data from all the multiple systems you need, should it be any cloud app or Rest API, relational databases or noSQL databases, csv files, etc.? Does it support the destinations you need to export data to - data warehouses, databases, or data lakes?
    • Connector extensibility: for all those connectors, are you able to edit them easily in order to add a potentially missing endpoint, or to fix an issue on it if needed?
    • Ability to build new connectors: all data integration solutions support a limited number of data sources.
    • Support of change data capture: this is especially important for your databases.
    • Data integration features and automations: including schema change migration, re-syncing of historical data when needed, scheduling feature
    • Efficiency: how easy is the user interface (including graphical interface, API, and CLI if you need them)?
    • Integration with the stack: do they integrate well with the other tools you might need - dbt, Airflow, Dagster, Prefect, etc. - ? 
    • Data transformation: Do they enable to easily transform data, and even support complex data transformations? Possibly through an integration with dbt
    • Level of support and high availability: how responsive and helpful the support is, what are the average % successful syncs for the connectors you need. The whole point of using ETL solutions is to give back time to your data team.
    • Data reliability and scalability: do they have recognizable brands using them? It also shows how scalable and reliable they might be for high-volume data replication.
    • Security and trust: there is nothing worse than a data leak for your company, the fine can be astronomical, but the trust broken with your customers can even have more impact. So checking the level of certification (SOC2, ISO) of the tools is paramount. You might want to expand to Europe, so you would need them to be GDPR-compliant too.

    Top ETL tools

    Here are the top ETL tools based on their popularity and the criteria listed above:

    1. Airbyte

    Airbyte is the leading open-source ELT platform, created in July 2020. Airbyte offers the largest catalog of data connectors—350 and growing—and has 40,000 data engineers using it to transfer data, syncing several PBs per month, as of June 2023. Major users include brands such as Siemens, Calendly, Angellist, and more. Airbyte integrates with dbt for its data transformation, and Airflow/Prefect/Dagster for orchestration. It is also known for its easy-to-use user interface, and has an API and Terraform Provider available.

    What's unique about Airbyte?

    Their ambition is to commoditize data integration by addressing the long tail of connectors through their growing contributor community. All Airbyte connectors are open-source which makes them very easy to edit. Airbyte also provides a Connector Development Kit to build new connectors from scratch in less than 30 minutes, and a no-code connector builder UI that lets you build one in less than 10 minutes without help from any technical person or any local development environment required.. 

    Airbyte also provides stream-level control and visibility. If a sync fails because of a stream, you can relaunch that stream only. This gives you great visibility and control over your data. 

    Data professionals can either deploy and self-host Airbyte Open Source, or leverage the cloud-hosted solution Airbyte Cloud where the new pricing model distinguishes databases from APIs and files. Airbyte offers a 99% SLA on Generally Available data pipelines tools, and a 99.9% SLA on the platform.

    2. Fivetran

    Fivetran is a closed-source, managed ELT service that was created in 2012. Fivetran has about 300 data connectors and over 5,000 customers.

    Fivetran offers some ability to edit current connectors and create new ones with Fivetran Functions, but doesn't offer as much flexibility as an open-source tool would.

    What's unique about Fivetran? 

    Being the first ELT solution in the market, they are considered a proven and reliable choice. However, Fivetran charges on monthly active rows (in other words, the number of rows that have been edited or added in a given month), and are often considered very expensive.

    Here are more critical insights on the key differentiations between Airbyte and Fivetran

    3. Stitch Data

    Stitch is a cloud-based platform for ETL that was initially built on top of the open-source ETL tool Singer.io. More than 3,000 companies use it.

    Stitch was acquired by Talend, which was acquired by the private equity firm Thoma Bravo, and then by Qlik. These successive acquisitions decreased market interest in the Singer.io open-source community, making most of their open-source data connectors obsolete. Only their top 30 connectors continue to be  maintained by the open-source community.

    What's unique about Stitch? 

    Given the lack of quality and reliability in their connectors, and poor support, Stitch has adopted a low-cost approach.

    Here are more insights on the differentiations between Airbyte and Stitch, and between Fivetran and Stitch.

    Other potential services

    Matillion

    Matillion is a self-hosted ELT solution, created in 2011. It supports about 100 connectors and provides all extract, load and transform features. Matillion is used by 500+ companies across 40 countries.

    What's unique about Matillion? 

    Being self-hosted means that Matillion ensures your data doesn’t leave your infrastructure and stays on premise. However, you might have to pay for several Matillion instances if you’re multi-cloud. Also, Matillion has verticalized its offer from offering all ELT and more. So Matillion doesn't integrate with other tools such as dbt, Airflow, and more.

    Here are more insights on the differentiations between Airbyte and Matillion.

    Airflow

    Apache Airflow is an open-source workflow management tool. Airflow is not an ETL solution but you can use Airflow operators for data integration jobs. Airflow started in 2014 at Airbnb as a solution to manage the company's workflows. Airflow allows you to author, schedule and monitor workflows as DAG (directed acyclic graphs) written in Python.

    What's unique about Airflow? 

    Airflow requires you to build data pipelines on top of its orchestration tool. You can leverage Airbyte for the data pipelines and orchestrate them with Airflow, significantly lowering the burden on your data engineering team.

    Here are more insights on the differentiations between Airbyte and Airflow.

    Talend

    Talend is a data integration platform that offers a comprehensive solution for data integration, data management, data quality, and data governance.

    What’s unique with Talend?

    What sets Talend apart is its open-source architecture with Talend Open Studio, which allows for easy customization and integration with other systems and platforms. However, Talend is not an easy solution to implement and requires a lot of hand-holding, as it is an Enterprise product. Talend doesn't offer any self-serve option.

    Pentaho

    Pentaho is an ETL and business analytics software that offers a comprehensive platform for data integration, data mining, and business intelligence. It offers ETL, and not ELT and its benefits.

    What is unique about Pentaho? 

    What sets Pentaho data integration apart is its original open-source architecture, which allows for easy customization and integration with other systems and platforms. Additionally, Pentaho provides advanced data analytics and reporting tools, including machine learning and predictive analytics capabilities, to help businesses gain insights and make data-driven decisions. 

    However, Pentaho is also an Enterprise product, so hard to implement without any self-serve option.

    Informatica PowerCenter

    Informatica PowerCenter is an ETL tool that supported data profiling, in addition to data cleansing and data transformation processes. It was also implemented in their customers' infrastructure, and is also an Enterprise product, so hard to implement without any self-serve option.

    Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

    MS SQL Server Integration Services is the Microsoft alternative from within their Microsoft infrastructure. It offers ETL, and not ELT and its benefits.

    Singer

    Singer is also worth mentioning as the first open-source JSON-based ETL framework.  It was introduced in 2017 by Stitch (which was acquired by Talend in 2018) as a way to offer extendibility to the connectors they had pre-built. Talend has unfortunately stopped investing in Singer’s community and providing maintenance for the Singer’s taps and targets, which are increasingly outdated, as mentioned above.

    Rivery

    Rivery is another cloud-based ELT solution. Founded in 2018, it presents a verticalized solution by providing built-in data transformation, orchestration and activation capabilities. Rivery offers 150+ connectors, so a lot less than Airbyte. Its pricing approach is usage-based with Rivery pricing unit that are a proxy for platform usage. The pricing unit depends on the connectors you sync from, which makes it hard to estimate. 

    HevoData

    HevoData is another cloud-based ELT solution. Even if it was founded in 2017, it only supports 150 integrations, so a lot less than Airbyte. HevoData provides built-in data transformation capabilities, allowing users to apply transformations, mappings, and enrichments to the data before it reaches the destination. Hevo also provides data activation capabilities by syncing data back to the APIs. 

    Meltano

    Meltano is an open-source orchestrator dedicated to data integration, spined off from Gitlab on top of Singer’s taps and targets. Since 2019, they have been iterating on several approaches. Meltano distinguishes itself with its focus on DataOps and the CLI interface. They offer a SDK to build connectors, but it requires engineering skills and more time to build than Airbyte’s CDK. Meltano doesn’t invest in maintaining the connectors and leave it to the Singer community, and thus doesn’t provide support package with any SLA. 

    All those ETL tools are not specific to , you might also find some other specific data loader for data. But you will most likely not want to be loading data from only in your data stores.

    Which data can you extract from ?

    How to start pulling data in minutes from

    If you decide to test Airbyte, you can start analyzing your data within minutes in three easy steps:

    Step 1: Set up as a source connector

    Step 2: Set up a destination for your extracted data

    Choose from one of 50+ destinations where you want to import data from your source. This can be a cloud data warehouse, data lake, database, cloud storage, or any other supported Airbyte destination.

    Step 3: Configure the data pipeline in Airbyte

    Once you've set up both the source and destination, you need to configure the connection. This includes selecting the data you want to extract - streams and columns, all are selected by default -, the sync frequency, where in the destination you want that data to be loaded, among other options.

    And that's it! It is the same process between Airbyte Open Source that you can deploy within 5 minutes, or Airbyte Cloud which you can try here, free for 14-days.

    Conclusion

    This article outlined the criteria that you should consider when choosing a data integration solution for ETL/ELT. Based on your requirements, you can select from any of the top 10 ETL/ELT tools listed above. We hope this article helped you understand why you should consider doing ETL and how to best do it.

    What should you do next?

    Hope you enjoyed the reading. Here are the 3 ways we can help you in your data journey:

    flag icon
    Easily address your data movement needs with Airbyte Cloud
    Take the first step towards extensible data movement infrastructure that will give a ton of time back to your data team. 
    Get started with Airbyte for free
    high five icon
    Talk to a data infrastructure expert
    Get a free consultation with an Airbyte expert to significantly improve your data movement infrastructure. 
    Talk to sales
    stars sparkling
    Improve your data infrastructure knowledge
    Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and get the community’s new enlightening content along with Airbyte’s progress in their mission to solve data integration once and for all.
    Subscribe to newsletter

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is ETL?

    ETL, an acronym for Extract, Transform, Load, is a vital data integration process. It involves extracting data from diverse sources, transforming it into a usable format, and loading it into a database, data warehouse or data lake. This process enables meaningful data analysis, enhancing business intelligence.

    What is ?

    What data can you extract from ?

    How do I transfer data from ?

    This can be done by building a data pipeline manually, usually a Python script (you can leverage a tool as Apache Airflow for this). This process can take more than a full week of development. Or it can be done in minutes on Airbyte in three easy steps: set it up as a source, choose a destination among 50 available off the shelf, and define which data you want to transfer and how frequently.

    What are top ETL tools to extract data from ?

    The most prominent ETL tools to extract data include: Airbyte, Fivetran, StitchData, Matillion, and Talend Data Integration. These ETL and ELT tools help in extracting data from various sources (APIs, databases, and more), transforming it efficiently, and loading it into a database, data warehouse or data lake, enhancing data management capabilities.

    What is ELT?

    ELT, standing for Extract, Load, Transform, is a modern take on the traditional ETL data integration process. In ELT, data is first extracted from various sources, loaded directly into a data warehouse, and then transformed. This approach enhances data processing speed, analytical flexibility and autonomy.

    Difference between ETL and ELT?

    ETL and ELT are critical data integration strategies with key differences. ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) transforms data before loading, ideal for structured data. In contrast, ELT (Extract, Load, Transform) loads data before transformation, perfect for processing large, diverse data sets in modern data warehouses. ELT is becoming the new standard as it offers a lot more flexibility and autonomy to data analysts.