Top Data Engineering tools

Maria Chojnowska

24 March 2023, 8 min read

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Data engineering is a critical aspect of data science and analytics, as it involves collecting, storing, and preparing data for analysis. With the increasing importance of big data and the need for faster and more efficient data processing, many tools are available for data engineers to choose from. In this article, we will explore some of the top data engineering tools that are currently available, including their features, advantages, and use cases. We'll also look at how these tools can be used to build robust and scalable data pipelines and how they can help organizations make more informed decisions.

What are data engineering tools?

Data engineering tools are software applications and platforms that collect, store, and process large amounts of data. These tools are designed to support the data pipeline, the process of moving data from one location to another and transforming it into a format that can be used for analysis.

Cloud-Based Data Engineering Tools

Cloud-based data engineering tools are hosted and run on cloud computing infrastructure, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). These tools are designed to make it easier for organizations to collect, store, and process large amounts of data in the cloud.

Data Engineering Tools in AWS

AWS offers a wide range of data engineering tools for organizations to collect, store, and process large amounts of data. The most famous examples are:

Amazon Redshift

Amazon Redshift is a data warehousing service that allows users to store and analyze large amounts of data in a cloud-based environment. It uses a columnar storage format, which is optimized for read-heavy workloads and allows for faster query performance compared to traditional row-based storage. It also uses advanced compression techniques to reduce storage costs. Redshift supports a variety of data sources, including Amazon S3, and can be integrated with other AWS services such as Amazon EMR, Amazon Kinesis, and Amazon QuickSight. Additionally, users can use SQL-based tools and BI analytics applications to connect and interact with the Redshift data. This makes it a popular choice for large-scale data warehousing and analytics workloads.

Amazon Athena

Amazon Athena is a serverless, interactive query service that allows users to analyze data stored in Amazon S3 using standard SQL. It is designed to work with data stored in various file formats, such as CSV, JSON, and Parquet, and supports data sources, including S3, Amazon Glue, and Amazon Lake Formation. Athena automatically scales the query engine based on the amount of data being queried, and users only pay for the queries they run. This makes it a cost-effective option for running ad-hoc queries on large data sets. Additionally, Athena can be integrated with other AWS services, such as Amazon QuickSight, Amazon Redshift, and AWS Glue, allowing users to create visualizations and perform more complex data processing tasks.

Data engineering tools in Azure

Azure offers a variety of data engineering tools, including:

Azure Data Factory

Azure Data Factory (ADF) is a data integration service that allows users to create, schedule, and manage data pipelines to move and transform data between various data sources. It supports a wide range of data sources, including Azure services such as Azure Data Lake Storage, Azure SQL Database, and Azure Cosmos DB, as well as on-premises and third-party sources like SQL Server, Oracle, and Amazon S3. It also provides a visual interface for creating, scheduling, and monitoring data pipelines and allows for the use of data flow activities for data transformation. Additionally, ADF provides for integration with other Azure services, such as Azure Machine Learning, Azure Logic Apps, and Azure Stream Analytics for more complex data processing tasks.

Azure Databricks

Azure Databricks is a collaborative, cloud-based platform for data engineering, machine learning, and analytics. It is built on Apache Spark and provides a collaborative environment for data scientists, data engineers, and business analysts. It allows users to process and analyze large datasets using Spark and other open-source libraries and frameworks like TensorFlow and PyTorch. It also provides a web-based notebook interface for data exploration, visualization, and model development.

One of the key features of Databricks is its ability to scale resources automatically, which makes it easy to handle large data sets and perform distributed computations. Additionally, Databricks provides an integrated environment for data engineering, machine learning, and analytics, allowing users to perform data preparation, model development, model training, model deployment, and monitoring in one platform. This makes it an excellent tool for building and deploying data-driven applications and services.

Apache data engineering tools

Apache offers several open-source data engineering tools, including:

Apache Spark

Apache Spark is an open-source, distributed computing system for big data processing. It handles data wrangling, data exploration, and machine learning. It is built on the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) and is compatible with other Hadoop ecosystem tools.

The tool is designed to provide fast and efficient data processing by using an in-memory computing model, which allows it to process data stored in memory rather than reading from disk. This makes Spark much faster than traditional big data processing tools like Hadoop MapReduce. Additionally, Spark provides a high-level API for programming in popular languages such as Python, R, and Scala, making it easy for data scientists and engineers to use.

Spark also has a variety of libraries built on top of its core engine, such as Spark SQL for SQL processing, Spark Streaming for real-time streaming data, and MLlib for machine learning. These libraries provide additional functionality and make Spark a versatile tool for many big data processing tasks.

Apache Airflow

Apache Airflow is a powerful tool for building, scheduling, and monitoring data pipelines and allows users to define workflows as directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) of tasks. Each task in a DAG represents an operation that needs to be executed, such as running a Python script or a SQL query. Airflow schedules and monitors these tasks and provides an easy-to-use web interface to manage and visualize the pipeline.

One of the key features of Airflow is its ability to handle dependencies between tasks, allowing users to build complex data pipelines with multiple stages. It also provides a variety of built-in operators for common data pipeline operations and will enable users to create custom operators for specific tasks. Additionally, Airflow has built-in support for error handling and retries, which makes it easy to handle and recover from failures in the pipeline.

Airflow also has a wide range of integration with other tools, such as BigQuery, AWS, GCP, and more. This makes it a popular choice for data engineers and data scientists who work with big data and need to perform complex data processing and data pipeline tasks.

Apache Kafka

Apache Kafka is an open-source, distributed event streaming platform for building real-time data pipelines and streaming applications. It handles high volume, high throughput, and low latency data streams. It can be used for messaging and streaming cases, such as activity tracking. Kafka is written in Scala and Java and is a key part of the Apache Software Foundation's Big Data project.

Other data engineering tools

Snowflake Data Warehouse

Snowflake allows for the storage and querying of structured and semi-structured data. It uses a unique architecture that separates storage and compute, allowing for independent scaling. This enables the near-instant scaling of query performance and the ability to pause and resume compute resources when they are not needed, resulting in cost savings.


Tableau is primarily a data visualization tool, so it is not typically used for data engineering tasks such as data cleaning, transformation, and integration. However, it can be applied with data engineering tools to visualize and analyze the data once it has been prepared for analysis.

Power BI

Power BI is a business intelligence and data visualization tool developed by Microsoft. It allows users to connect to various data sources, create interactive dashboards and reports, and share them with others. It also includes features for data modeling, collaboration, and data governance.

Summing up

In conclusion, there are many powerful tools available to data engineers that can help them with the design, construction, and maintenance of data infrastructure and systems. Each of these tools has its strengths and can be used in different situations depending on the specific requirements of the data engineering project. Ultimately, the right tool for the job will depend on factors such as the size and complexity of the data, the desired performance, scalability, and the specific use case. With the right tools, data engineers can build robust and efficient systems that support the collection, storage, and processing of large and complex data sets.

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