As the demand for data-driven insights increases across industries, data teams need to constantly integrate more disparate data sources and destinations than ever before. This task would be impossible without easy-to-use data integration tools like Airbyte.
Despite its meteoric rise to popularity, Airbyte has stiff competition. There are many Airbyte alternatives available in the market today. Some are relatively new while others have been around for as long as a decade.
With so many options available to help you automate your data pipelines, choosing the right one can be a challenge.
And this is what today’s post is about – finding the best option for your business. In this guide, we’ll discuss seven of the best Airbyte alternatives. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be aware of Airbyte’s strengths and weaknesses, and which alternative tool might be the ideal choice for you.
But first, let’s start with defining data integration and a quick overview of Airbyte.
What Is Data Integration?
Data integration is the process of connecting data between systems within a company’s data infrastructure. These systems can be databases, data warehouses, applications, event streams, and more.
The main unit of data integration is a data pipeline. Each data pipeline ingests data from a source and loads it to a destination. Therefore, a given organization will need a large number of different pipelines to connect many different combinations of systems.
That’s where a platform or tool like Airbyte comes in.
What Is Airbyte?
Airbyte is an open-source data integration tool that also offers a paid, no-code SaaS platform. Since its inception in 2020, it has rapidly become a prominent name in the data integration space.
Like other data integration platforms, Airbyte uses components called connectors to integrate with different data source and destination systems.
What distinguishes Airbyte from other platforms is the fact that it prioritizes supporting as many data source and destination systems as possible. It does this by using an open-source model for its connectors and actively encouraging its community to contribute.
The Best 7 Airbyte Alternatives
Here is a detailed analysis of the top 7 Airbyte alternatives that can boost your business intelligence.
Estuary – Top Pick
Estuary Flow is our top pick for the finest data integration platform. It combines open-source code with a cloud-hosted, low-code SaaS platform that’s meant to empower the whole team, not just engineers.
Where Airbyte’s focus is on a variety of SaaS connectors, Estuary Flow focuses on high-scale technology systems like databases, filestores, and pub-sub. And unlike Airbyte and most other data integration tools, Flow is a real-time data streaming system.
Flow can be used to build analytical pipelines that end at the data warehouse, as well as operational pipelines (sometimes called “reverse ETL”).
Flow is a great option if you’re looking to stream huge datasets while keeping costs low — and to do so in milliseconds.
Pros And Cons Of Estuary
|True real-time data integration||Since Estuary is a more recent solution, it is changing rapidly|
|Both UI and CLI support are available, so engineers and other stakeholders can contribute meaningfully||Fewer connector options than some others on this list|
|Prioritizes connectors for high-scale technology systems and change data capture. The open-source connector model integrates with Airbyte’s connectors for more options|
|Event-based architecture provides better performance and pricing at scale|
Meltano – Best Airbyte Alternative For Engineer-Only Teams
Meltano is another open-source data integration platform and has a truly vast variety of open-source connectors through its support of open-source Singer taps. Unlike Airbyte, Meltano is aimed specifically at data engineers and is a CLI-first platform.
It lets you create pipelines-as-code and includes other features that developers seek out, like CI/CD and version control. As with Airbyte, transformation is possible through an integration with dbt. Apache Airflow is also supported as an orchestrator plugin.
Pros And Cons Of Meltano
|Robust CLI support and version control take advantage of programming best practices||UI is rudimentary and the learning curve is steep|
|Offers more connectors than any other platform on this list|
Matillion – Best For Self-Hosting
Matillion is a self-hosted ETL tool, which means it can only be deployed on your own infrastructure. This makes it a great choice for industries where privacy and data control are top priorities.
While the self-hosted versions of other products on this list are open-source and CLI-based, Matillion’s self-hosted product has a UI (user interface) and comes with great customer support.
Matillion has a more robust UI-based transformation than other platforms on this list, but if you prefer a separate transformation platform, like dbt, integration isn’t provided.
Pros And Cons Of Matillion
|Self-hosted ETL with a user interface and full product support||Not self-service and increased vendor lock-in compared to cloud data services|
|UI-based transformations||UI can be challenging to master|
|Fewer connectors than others on this list|
Fivetran – Most Established Airbyte Alternative
Founded in 2012, Fivetran is the original cloud-based data integration platform. It remains a leader today, as thousands of customers around the world would attest.
Like Airbyte, Fivetran is a low-code tool with a wide variety of connectors, but since it is a completely closed-source platform, all connectors are built by the Fivetran team.
Despite its extended dominance, Fivetran is coming under scrutiny lately as a wider variety of data integration platforms (like the others on this list) become more advanced.
Pros And Cons Of Fivetran
|Offers a large number of connectors||No pre-load transformation capabilities|
|Being in the industry for a while, lots of information is available||No extensibility or open-source components|
|Pricing based on active rows only can save money compared to other tools that offer pure row-based pricing||Team is slow to address support requests|
Stitch Data – Best For Smaller Companies
Stich Data is a cloud-based ETL platform owned by Talend. It is self-service, has over 130 connectors, and is primarily used to get data to the warehouse for analysis.
Stitch is an excellent option for smaller companies that can get by with the free tier (less than 5 million rows per month) or a relatively small contract on the Standard tier.
Another great feature is that there is no coding required to set up the software, making it ideal for businesses of all sizes.
Pros And Cons Of Stitch
|Extensibility and integration with open-source connectors through the Singer specification||Beyond the free tier, pricing is based on monthly rows, which can get expensive at scale|
|Orchestration and visibility features included||Minimal support for transformations|
|Integrates with other tools in the Talend Data Fabric|
Workato – Best Airbyte Alternative For Workflow Integration
Workato calls itself an integration platform as a service (iPaaS), differentiating itself from ETL and ELT pipeline platforms.
Workato is designed to fully integrate the systems that make up your data stack, not just the data itself. It’s a real-time automation platform for a variety of workflows including data management and analytics tasks that involve multiple data platforms.
That puts Workato in a different category than most of the platforms on this list. It can help connect many of the apps supported by Airbyte, but does so in a different way and for a different purpose.
Pros And Cons Of Workato
|Real-time integration for small-scale analytic operational workflows||Can be expensive for some businesses|
|A large number of connectors are available||Not ideal for moving large amounts of data|
Singular – Best For Marketing
Marketing is a huge business domain that relies heavily on data analytics. The first step to successful analytics is data ingestion and consolidation, and there are many marketing tools one must ingest data from.
Singular sets itself apart from other data integration tools by being completely specialized in the marketing niche. It’s a completely no-code platform designed specifically to extract data from marketing APIs and SaaS directly into warehouses like Snowflake or Google BigQuery for analysis. It includes other features important to marketers, like conversion tracking and cost analytics dashboards.
Pros And Cons Of Singular
|Extracts the most granular marketing data for in-depth analytics||You’ll have to look for another platform if you require a non-marketing pipeline|
|Strong schema normalization and validation prior to loading|
|Integrations with analytics and fraud protection tools|
5 Things To Look For In An Airbyte Alternative
There isn’t a perfect Airbyte substitute out there since each organization has unique needs and requirements. However, there are a few factors you should consider before you make your choice.
Sources And Destinations
The wide variety of connectors is a huge part of the appeal of Airbyte, and also something to consider as you choose an alternative.
Integration quality and prioritization may be more important factors than sheer quantity.
For example, if you want to integrate with a lot of different SaaS APIs, Airbyte might be the right fit. If you care more about database CDC or integrating with pub/sub systems, Estuary is a better option. And if you’re looking for high-quality marketing integrations, Singular is the right pick.
Scalable Data Transfer
Not every data integration use case involves terabytes of data, but many do. Consider if the platform you choose will be able to perform for large backfills of historical data and variations in new data volume over time.
Also evaluate how the pricing model will scale, and whether it will be in your favor or the vendor’s.
What is the acceptable latency for your data? Airbyte and many of its competitors use batch data processing, which naturally introduces some amount of time lag.
If you need data changes to be reflected immediately, in seconds or milliseconds, you’ll need a real-time data integration system, which will narrow down your options considerably.
Usability And Learning Curve
Some of the tools on this list emphasize a no-code user interface but lack a CLI and support for engineering workflows. While this can be inclusive for a wider range of data stakeholders, it can be incredibly frustrating for data engineering teams.
On the other hand, CLI-first tools can be intimidating or downright impossible to use for non-engineers. Consider the people on the team that will be building and monitoring your pipelines, and base your decision on that.
There is a lot to take into consideration when it comes to reliability. For example:
- What is the quality of open-source components?
- What is the quality of the tech support from the vendor?
- Does the platform provide resilience against outages and failures?
- How is data validated, and what happens if there’s a schema or transformation error?
Seeking out reviews and learning from the experiences of other customers is extremely helpful here.
Why Do Companies Choose Airbyte?
Here are a few reasons that make Airbyte a popular option.
Ease Of Use
There are two versions of Airbyte available. Airbyte Open Source is a self-hosted version where users must supply their own storage and processing resources. For data engineers, this is an approachable workflow.
Airbyte Cloud is Airbyte’s self-service SaaS product. It features an intuitive user interface and includes the use of Airbyte’s servers, so it’s easy to get started. A variety of stakeholders, not just engineers, can use Airbyte Cloud to create and monitor data pipelines.
Airbyte Is Extensible
No data platform is perfect. It’s common for a data integration platform to fall short of customers’ needs, especially when it comes to connectors. Often the customers decide to hand-code their own connectors to integrate systems that aren’t supported.
Some data integration vendors disallow this or make it quite challenging. By contrast, Airbyte encourages customer contributions in every form.
If an Airbyte customer sees an issue with a connector or wants to build one of their own, they don’t have to go through customer support or spend time figuring out how to modify their individual setup. In fact, Airbyte provides guidelines and templates for adding new connectors and making changes to existing ones.
This allows each customer to get what they need sooner and other members of the Airbyte community can benefit from their work.
Airbyte prioritizes community development. That’s powerful and has earned them a loyal following.
Huge Variety Of Integrations
Thanks to its open-source model and emphasis on community, Airbyte has more data connectors than most of its peers.
There are hundreds of Airbyte connectors available today, and the number is growing quickly. Even somewhat obscure APIs and SaaS products are likely to have Airbyte connectors, so it doesn’t just support major names like Salesforce or Snowflake.
Airbyte is completely free if you self-host the open-source version.
For Airbyte Cloud, pricing is transparent on the website. It’s based on “credits” which equate to roughly ⅙ million rows of API replication or 250MB of database replication. Custom pricing is also available for enterprises.
Reasons To Pick Other Data Integration Platforms
Airbyte is far from the complete solution. Most users will note the following challenges with the ELT tool.
Connector Quality Is Inconsistent
An unfortunate side effect of the open-source connector model is that some connectors work better than others, and they don’t all work in the same way.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise because Airbyte is still a small company, yet it has managed to include a large number of connectors, many of which are contributions from people outside the team.
Some users have expressed a desire for more thorough regulation and testing of connectors, rather than a focus on sheer quantity.
Frequent New Releases
Airbyte is still in its early stages, and Airbyte Cloud, which debuted in 2022, is even newer. The business is rapidly improving its product, but doing so will result in a short-term inconsistent user experience. Long-term, this will improve the product’s quality.
Frequent releases make it hard for users to get used to workflows and troubleshoot errors.
Data Transformation Is Not A Priority For Airbyte
In ELT/ELT terms, Airbyte is mainly an EL tool: it focuses on extracting and loading data, not data transformation.
While transformation is possible with Airbyte, it’s not a priority feature and options are limited. Users can upload SQL scripts, but the recommended pathway involves integrating with a separate tool, dbt.
Most notably, these transformations are only possible after loading, which makes it harder to protect your data warehouse or other storage systems from messy data.
In today’s rapidly diversifying data landscape, it’s highly unlikely that your team will be able to build its own data pipelines from scratch.
That’s why new data integration platforms, like Airbyte, are gaining ground, and older ones, like Fivetran, are enjoying continued growth.
In our list of the seven best Airbyte alternatives, each tool has its unique traits and flaws. Your organization’s needs, team, and existing data infrastructure are all unique, so only you will be able to identify the best data integration solution for your requirements. We hope that the information provided here gives you what you need to narrow down your options.
If you’d like to find out if Estuary is the right fit for you, you can get started for free.