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

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

Focus Transformations Event tracking, data ingestion, ELT Data ingestion, ELT
Database replication Full table; incremental via hand-coded SELECT statements No database data sources Full table; incremental via change data capture or SELECT/replication keys
SaaS sources None About 35 More than 100
Ability for customers to add new data sources No For events but not cloud app sources (see explanation below) Yes
Connects to data warehouses? Data lakes? No / No Yes / No Yes / Yes
Transparent pricing Yes Yes Yes
G2 customer satisfaction 4.5/5 4.6/5 4.8/5
Support SLAs No Available Available
Purchase process Options for self-service and talking with sales Options for self-service and talking with sales Options for self-service or talking with sales. Also available from the AWS store.
Compliance, governance, and security certifications None GDPR HIPAA, GDPR, SOC 2
Data sharing No No Yes, through Talend Data Fabric
Vendor lock-in Annual contracts Month to month or annual contracts. The company maintains several open source projects. Month to month or annual contracts. Open source integrations
Developer tools COM-based API (Component Object Module) JavaScript library, mobile SDKs, server-side libraries, HTTP Tracking API, Pixel Tracking API, Objects API, Objects Bulk 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

Altova

Altova MapForce is a data transformation tool. It's a Windows-based IDE that enables you to transform data from one format to another, or from one schema to another, by means of a drag-and-drop user interface. It supports only XSLT (eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) in its Basic Edition, but Professional and Enterprise editions add support for XQuery, Java, C#, C++, and MapForce's proprietary BUILT-IN transformation language.

Segment

Segment lets users track events across multiple applications and send event data to multiple destinations. It's designed to collect and connect customer data from multiple marketing, analytics, and data warehousing tools. It's not primarily an ETL tool, but it does include connectivity to some SaaS data sources and data warehouse destinations. To the extent that it performs ETL operations, Segment focuses on the E and L, extraction and loading. It extracts raw data from sources and loads it into destinations without allowing users to define their own transformations — though Segment itself transforms events and objects to conform to its standard as it sends them between different tools, including to the data warehouse.

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.

Altova

Altova sells a range of products: desktop development tools, server software, mobile development software, and regulatory solutions. The desktop development tools are available in a bundle as Altova MissionKit, or individually. They include:

  • MapForce — graphical data mapping, conversion, and integration tool that maps data between XML, database, EDI, XBRL, flat file, Excel, JSON, and/or web service, then transforms data or autogenerates data integration code for future execution. MapForce supports different sources and destinations depending on the edition used. Basic Edition supports only XML, XML Schema, and HL7 electronic health information (EHI) files. Professional Edition adds support for flat files and relational databases. Enterprise Edition adds support for EDI formats, JSON files, Excel 2007 and later, and XBRL. None of the editions supports data warehouses or data lakes as sources or targets.
  • XMLspy — graphical schema designer that includes a code generator, file converters, and debuggers
  • StyleVision — a tool for designing reports and forms based on XML, database, and XBRL inputs
  • UModel — UML application modeler that generates Java, C++, C#, or Visual Basic .NET code and project documentation
  • DatabaseSpy — multi-database query, design, and database comparison tool
  • DiffDog — diff / merge utility for files, directories, and database schemas and tables
  • SchemaAgent — tool for analyzing and managing relationships among XML-based files
  • Segment

    Segment has a different focus than most ETL tools — it's designed to track events from applications, websites, and mobile apps and unify them into customer profiles. In Segment, an event is a set of actions that represents a step in the funnel, such as user invited or signed up or order completed. Users can define events that make sense for their business use cases, based on key metrics that provide business value, and create tracking plans to document the events and properties they intend to collect across Segment sources.

    Segment offers integrations for several different kinds of sources:

  • It tracks and sends events between more than 250 supported tools.
  • It replicates data from about 35 cloud app sources that are common among ETL tools.

  • To understand the difference between the events and SaaS data sources, take the example of Salesforce, which is one of a handful of integrations supported in both categories. Event tracking would enable updates to Salesforce leads and contacts based things those users did in a separate system, like a mobile app.

    If you want to replicate all of the data in your Salesforce instance to your data warehouse, including information entered by your sales team, that’s only possible with a cloud app source.

    Customers can use Segment's developer tools to track new event sources, but no one outside of the Segment team can build new cloud app sources.

    Segment supports six destinations:

  • Amazon Redshift
  • Google BigQuery
  • Snowflake
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • Postgres
  • IBM Db2
  • 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.

    Altova

    Altova MapForce provides support through a web-based form. Product consulting, including telephone support, is available for an hourly fee. Documentation is provided in the form of PDF-format manuals available for download, and an online version of the same information. The company provides online training materials.

    Segment

    Segment provides support through a ticketing system. Documentation is comprehensive. Segment does not provide training services.

    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

    Altova

    Altova provides a 30-day free trial of MapForce (in a bundle with its entire line of developer tools). Licenses start at $999 for one installed user. Altova also prices the software per concurrent user or named user, and sells 5-, 10-, 20-, and 50-user licenses of each type. A support and maintenance package is available at additional cost.

    Segment

    Segment provides a 14-day free trial, and has a free Developer tier. Team accounts start at $120 per month. Pricing is based in part on the volume of monthly tracked users in data sources. Business plans for larger organizations are priced individually.

    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.