When should a ESB vs ETL tool be used? I have worked on ESB projects using Tibco Businessworks quite a few years ago. The message bus that we built used to consume messages from a source system , applying validation , perform transformation and send it to appropriate destination. The source could be a db , service , file etc and same with the destination. I was under the impression that ETL is primarily to extract , transform and load large volume of data & source / destination are primarily different databases. I recently looked at one pentaho project and it pretty much supported all the functions that I have seen in Tibco Businessworks and the project that I looked at was performing data extraction from a DB , but doing the same activities such a filter / transformation and routing. I also believe it has facility to route messages and consume messages from queues. When should we choose one over the other?

1 Answer 1


Enterprise Service Bus is a "software architecture" model used for designing and implementing communication between mutually interacting software applications in a service-oriented architecture (SOA).

Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) refers to a data warehousing process that extracts data from various data sources, transforms it into the proper format, and loads it into the final target, usually a database.

The two things that they both have in common:

  1. They both work with databases, and
  2. They both allow heterogenous systems to be connected together,

But they have different purposes. ESB is used for ongoing operations, whereas ETL is intended for one-time, ad-hoc or batch-like imports of data, much like the purposes of OLAP and OLTP.

  • Thanks Robert. If ETL is primarily aimed at dealing with data transfer between DBs , why do the tools support polling from different data sources , calling we services etc? Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 5:33
  • Because the emphasis is on the connecting together of disparate systems. ESB does that too, but on a more real-time basis. Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 5:37

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