The Ins and Outs of ETL

In the technology space, we deal with so many abbreviations and even more acronyms. It can really make you feel lost in the alphabet soup and can distract from the important knowledge held within. Let’s delve into what exactly ETL is and how it can benefit your organization.

What It Stands For

In its essence ETL, which stands for Extract, Transform, and Load is a protocol for integrating your data. It takes data integration and develops a data warehouse that can be later pulled from. This data warehouse is a comprehensive storage of all the data you work with, taking into account every source that you need to be accountable and organized.

Initial Considerations

Before jumping into the ETL workflow, it is important to pause and contemplate what your organization’s actual needs are. A common mistake the IT team of any company does when engaging in ETL is they begin coding and building before the needs are considered. For instance, if you are a smaller business with far fewer clients and customers than a Fortune 500 you would not need to spend the time and money to build a database of the same size. Keep in mind your company’s goals and scalability at all times when engaging in ETL.

How ETL Can Help You

Now that you have a grasp of what ETL actually is and understand the precautions needed before setting it up. Let’s explore just how it can help you and your organization. One of the perks of the ETL system is that it takes many essential functions every business needs and organizes it into a single group of tools that greatly streamline your needed activities. Some of these activities include: 

  • Creating a road map for where your business has been and where it is going
  • Creates a common space for all your data needs
  • Allows the users to compare data sets for optimal results

The ETL Flow

The literal workflow of ETL is the following: Data Extraction, Data Cleansing, Transformation, and finally Loading. The very first step of Data Extraction requires the most accuracy and care for it will be the source of all the processes afterward so it is paramount to do it properly. You need to understand the different types of data you will be extracting. The most common types of data are the following:

  • Databases
  • Flat files
  • Web services
  • RSS feeds

Next up is the transformation side of things, you need to comprehend how that data is going to be changed and where it is going to be stored. The most common types of storage databases are things like MySQL and Oracle, both of which have certifications that can be granted to experts if you are looking to recruit or outsource this process to someone.

Finally, you need to get your head around how the data will be loaded for later use and examination. You need to understand how many people will be utilizing the data and how frequently. This will help you judge the cost-effectiveness of your database. The more efficient you can be with this part of the ETL flow the better off your organization is going to be.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a rough understanding of the world of ETL you can approach your business’ needs with confidence and expertise. We now navigate a business landscape where the difference between success and failure lies heavily on the gathering and analysis of big data to leverage your decisions. If you and your organization can master the ETL flow you can have a huge advantage in this new decade.

For more information and other articles, contact us at Helios!



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