Most businesses have data stored in a variety of locations, from in-house databases to SaaS platforms. To get a full picture of their finances and operations, they pull data from all those sources into a data warehouse or data lake and run analytics against it. But they don't want to build and maintain their own data pipelines.

Fortunately, it’s not necessary to build everything in-house. We put together this ETL tool comparison guide to help you choose the product that’s the best fit for your business.

Overview

Apache Airflow, MuleSoft, and Stitch are all popular platforms. Here's a side-by-side look at how they stack up against each other.

Focus Orchestration, scheduling, workflows Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), application integration Data ingestion, ELT
Database replication Only via plugins Incremental replication depends upon manually written SELECT statements Full table; incremental via change data capture or SELECT/replication keys
SaaS sources Only via plugins About 70 More than 100
Ability for customers to add new data sources Yes Yes Yes
Connects to data warehouses? Data lakes? Yes / Yes No / Yes Yes / Yes
Transparent pricing Yes No Yes
G2 customer satisfaction Not rated 4.5/5 4.8/5
Support SLAs No Yes Available
Purchase process Free to download and use Requires a conversation with sales Options for self-service or talking with sales. Also available from the AWS store.
Compliance, governance, and security certifications None HIPAA/HITRUST, GDPR, Level-1 PCI-DSS, SOC 2, FIPS HIPAA, GDPR, SOC 2
Data sharing Yes, via plugins Yes Yes, through Talend Data Fabric
Vendor lock-in Free to use Annual contracts. Mule Kernel is available as open source, licensed under the Common Public Attribution License (CPAL). Month to month or annual contracts. Open source integrations
Developer tools Experimental REST API Runtime Manager REST API, CloudHub API Import API, Stitch Connect API for integrating Stitch with other platforms, Singer open source project

Let's dive into some of the details of each platform.

Transformations

Apache Airflow

Apache Airflow is a powerful tool for authoring, scheduling, and monitoring workflows as directed acyclic graphs (DAG) of tasks. A DAG is a topological representation of the way data flows within a system. Airflow manages execution dependencies among jobs (known as operators in Airflow parlance) in the DAG, and programmatically handles job failures, retries, and alerting. Developers can write Python code to transform data as an action in a workflow.

MuleSoft

MuleSoft specializes in application integration — moving data from one application or platform to another. Each application has defined data structures, so MuleSoft often has to transform data from a source to fit the destination schema. MuleSoft comes with more than 20 prepackaged "transformers," and gives developers the ability to write their own custom processors in scripting languages such as JavaScript and Groovy.

Stitch

Stitch is an ELT product. Within the pipeline, Stitch does only transformations that are required for compatibility with the destination, such as translating data types or denesting data when relevant. Stitch is part of Talend, which also provides tools for transforming data either within the data warehouse or via external processing engines such as Spark and MapReduce. Transformations can be defined in SQL, Python, Java, or via graphical user interface.

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Connectors: Data sources and destinations

Each of these tools supports a variety of data sources and destinations.

Apache Airflow

Airflow orchestrates workflows to extract, transform, load, and store data. It run tasks, which are sets of activities, via operators, which are templates for tasks that can by Python functions or external scripts. Developers can create operators for any source or destination. In addition, Airflow supports plugins that implement operators and hooks — interfaces to external platforms. The Airflow community has built plugins for databases like MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server and SaaS platforms such as Salesforce, Stripe, and Facebook Ads.

MuleSoft

The MuleSoft Anypoint Platform includes several components:

  • Anypoint Design Center provides tools to build connectors and implement data and application flows, including the Anypoint Studio desktop IDE.
  • Anypoint Security defends the APIs and integrations users build.
  • Mule runtime engine powers the platform's connections to applications, data, and devices.
  • Anypoint Management Center lets users manage APIs and users, analyze traffic, monitor SLAs, and fix integration flows.

  • Like other application integration platforms, MuleSoft typically replicates data changes one at a time between multiple systems, as events happen, rather than pushing batches of data to a single central repository. MuleSoft supports almost 300 connectors to databases, SaaS platforms, storage resources, and network services. It supports Amazon S3 data lakes, but no cloud data warehouses.

    Stitch

    Stitch supports more than 100 database and SaaS integrations as data sources, and eight data warehouse and data lake destinations. Customers can contract with Stitch to build new sources, and anyone can add a new source to Stitch by developing it according to the standards laid out in Singer, an open source toolkit for writing scripts that move data. Singer integrations can be run independently, regardless of whether the user is a Stitch customer. Running Singer integrations on Stitch’s platform allows users to take advantage of Stitch's monitoring, scheduling, credential management, and autoscaling features.

    Support, documentation, and training

    Data integration tools can be complex, so vendors offer several ways to help their customers. Online documentation is the first resource users often turn to, and support teams can answer questions that aren't covered in the docs. Vendors of the more complicated tools may also offer training services.

    Apache Airflow

    The open source community provides Airflow support through a Slack community. Documentation includes quick start and how-to guides. Other than a tutorial on the Apache website there are no training resources.

    MuleSoft

    MuleSoft provides online, email, and telephone support. Documentation is comprehensive. Digital training materials are available.

    Stitch

    Stitch provides in-app chat support to all customers, and phone support is available for Enterprise customers. Support SLAs are available. Documentation is comprehensive and is open source — anyone can contribute additions and improvements or repurpose the content. Stitch does not provide training services.

    Pricing

    Apache Airflow

    Airflow is free and open source, licensed under Apache License 2.0.

    MuleSoft

    MuleSoft provides a 30-day free trial. Pricing isn't disclosed.

    Stitch

    Stitch has pricing that scales to fit a wide range of budgets and company sizes. All new users get an unlimited 14-day trial. After the trial, there's a free plan for smaller organizations and nonproduction workloads. Standard plans range from $100 to $1,250 per month depending on scale, with discounts for paying annually. Enterprise plans for larger organizations and mission-critical use cases can include custom features, data volumes, and service levels, and are priced individually.

    Get started now

    Which tool is best overall? That's something every organization has to decide based on its unique requirements, but we can help you get started. Sign up now for a free trial of Stitch.