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Reverse ETL

Last updated Apr 16, 2024

In reverse ETL, the traditional roles of sources and destinations in the ETL process are reversed. Data is transferred from a centralized repository to third-party applications and platforms, typically operational systems designed for specific user groups such as sales, marketing, or customer support teams.

The data warehouse, in this process, serves as a “single source of the truth,” storing the most accurate and up-to-date information and propagating it as needed to various third-party systems. Reverse ETL facilitates easier access to data and insights for employees, particularly non-technical users, within the platforms they already use.

An insightful quote by Maxime Beauchemin in RW How the Modern Data Stack Is Reshaping Data Engineering - Blog Preset likens Reverse-ETL to Master Data Services (MDS):

“Reverse ETL, a recent development in integrating data from warehouses into operational systems—often SaaS services—represents a modern approach to addressing a subset of challenges traditionally associated with Master Data Management.”

From Engineering Blog: What is Reverse ETL:

CDC is challenging to implement in Reverse ETL since business applications typically lack a transaction log or ‘updated_at’ columns.”

“In a traditional ETL pipeline, the UPSERT operation merges data into a database or data warehouse, supported by most systems. UPSERT ensures that if data already exists at the destination, it isn’t duplicated. However, most APIs lack this feature and instead offer separate endpoints for creating and updating records.”

# Tools

References: RW Best Reverse ETL Technologies in 2021 by Tech Ninja Technology Now & Next Sep, 2021 Medium
Created 2021-10-28