Extract, transform, and load (ETL) is one of the most critical parts of data integration. The process can be tricky if you write your code for the data ETL pipeline. Most data professionals acknowledge that the manual ETL process is cumbersome and requires advanced expertise to execute correctly.
However, what if a zero-code ETL solution could automate all this manual work? This functionality is what ETL tools, such as Astera Centerprise, offer. They allow you to prepare production-ready ETL pipelines without writing even a single line of code. This ensures that you can focus on perfecting your workflow for the data ETL pipeline rather than dealing with the nitty-gritty details of the underlying code.
So, what is zero-code ETL? And what benefits does it offer compared to writing your ETL code, i.e., manual ETL? This blog post introduces no-code ETL and how to use it to develop complex data pipelines for your business.
Differences Between Manual ETL And Zero-Code ETL
Manual ETL refers to writing ETL code using one or more programming languages. It is the traditional method of performing ETL. Still, it requires a wide range of skills, including writing error-free code, expertise in documenting and outlining the entire ETL process, and a deep understanding of the data architecture.
On the other hand, zero-code or no-code ETL is performed using software with automation features and visual UI that eliminates the need for coding skills. The software enables you to prepare a codeless ETL pipeline and move data with minimal IT intervention.
Given below is a comparison of manual ETL and zero-code ETL based on three determining factors:
- Ease of use: Even if you are an experienced developer, writing an ETL process from scratch can be difficult. Moreover, modifying the process may require scratching the old code and rewriting a new one. With zero-code or no-code ETL tools, you can quickly and conveniently develop ETL pipelines in lesser time. In addition, making changes is comparatively easy as the software presents the basic framework.
- Maintenance: ETL code can be written in Java, Python, SQL, or other languages. Maintaining this code would require a team that understands the code and has a strong background in working with these programming languages.
These requirements make the set of processes for manual ETL maintenance difficult and expensive. As opposed to this, pipelines created with zero-code ETL tools are easier to maintain and manage because they identify and explain errors. Hence, you only need to make minor changes yourself.
- Cost: A no-code ETL software, such as Astera Centerprise, is a one-time investment that incurs an upfront cost but reduces your data integration costs in the long run. This is because you no longer have to pay the salary for an entire team of developers (for manual ETL) who develop, maintain, and test your ETL pipelines.
How to Build Complex Data Pipelines with Zero-Code ETL
To illustrate the convenience of no-code ETL platforms, let us take the example of XYZ Healthcare. XYZ is a leading healthcare provider that has recently witnessed a sharp rise in demand for its services. XYZ wants to build a consolidated database from its various data stores to ensure consistent availability and improve its service quality. This will allow them to get a 360-degree view of their resources and make informed decisions about expanding their business to accommodate this increased demand using a code-free solution.
Here is how XYZ Healthcare can use the utilities available in a no-code ETL software to build the data pipeline for their enterprise database quickly:
- Connectors: XYZ stores its customer information in an SQL Server database, appointment schedules in an Excel file, and financial information in Oracle ERP. Using a code-free ETL tool, XYZ can quickly connect to all these source systems for extracting data using pre-built connectors by defining connection parameters.
On the contrary, their developers would have to create custom connectors for these different data sources if they were to write code for their ETL pipeline. Moreover, they would also have to define various methods for loading the data from these source systems to the target system, a significant task that can take weeks.
- Data Profiling: To design the structure for their database, the ETL team at XYZ would like to understand the structure and quality of the source data. Several zero-code platforms come with data profiling features that provide a detailed breakdown of the source system, including data types, integrity, and quality. You can even define custom validation rules to filter out ‘dirty’ or ‘unwanted’ data. In contrast, the developers must manually curate and examine the source data during the manual ETL process.
- Pre-built Transformations: To better assess their capacity, XYZ would like to aggregate the number of appointments each department has and, within those departments, break down those appointments across various dimensions such as time, doctor, and service being offered. With no-code ETL, data transformations are pre-built within the software and can be applied to the raw data directly by dragging and dropping them into the ETL pipeline. You can perform a variety of aggregations and transformations on the source databases for data analysis.
- Workflow Automation: Scheduling the ETL pipeline based on triggers makes them efficient. Create a separate script or use a third-party utility to schedule your code to run automatically. You get a built-in job scheduler with no-code ETL software that automates ETL pipelines. You can even schedule sub-flows of your ETL workflow to run separately as and when needed.
A single data process can take years to develop with manual ETL, which can be expensive for a business. On the other hand, XYZ can achieve the same results in less than six months and lower costs using a no-code ETL tool.
No code ETL solutions offer a range of benefits, including increased efficiency of business processes, lower costs, and in-depth data insights. With no-code ETL solutions, you can build complex data pipelines within a few days without requiring extensive coding and data engineering knowledge. If you want to transition from the traditional manual ETL process to zero-code ETL, try Astera Centerprise for free.
Astera Centerprise is a zero-code platform that integrates data from diverse sources in a visual, drag-and-drop UI. It requires no coding knowledge, and you can access, clean, and view your data with utmost convenience and ease.