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Batch ETL vs Streaming ETL: 8 Differences You Need To Know

You have large amounts of data waiting to be processed – user interactions, transactions, system logs – the list goes on. All this data can be great for insights but it also means dealing with the challenge of managing it in the most efficient and timely manner. To handle this, it is important to understand the difference between 2 main methods: batch ETL vs streaming ETL.

But how do you figure out which way to go? Is it about data volume or the immediacy of insights? Or maybe it is about doing things right away in real-time versus the comprehensive analysis of big batches of information at once. When faced with such decisions, having a clear picture is key – and that is exactly what this guide will provide.

We will explore 8 major differences between batch ETL and streaming ETL for a clear, concise understanding of each method so you can choose the right approach for your data processing challenges. 

What Is Batch ETL?

Batch ETL vs Streaming ETL - Batch ETL

Batch ETL is a traditional method in data processing with 3 crucial steps: extract, transform, load i.e. extract data from various sources, transform this data, and then load data into a system for bulk processing at scheduled intervals. 

The process is characterized by structured and predictable cycles. It is a dependable option when real-time data processing isn't a critical requirement. Batch ETL fits well with traditional data warehousing setups as a reliable means of extracting data for established data systems.

What Is Streaming ETL?

Batch ETL vs Streaming ETL - Streaming ETL

Streaming ETL is a modern approach to data processing that is designed to handle data in real-time as it is generated or received. Unlike traditional batch processing, which deals with data in intervals, streaming ETL continuously collects, processes, and moves data to let organizations gain insights and respond to events almost immediately. 

It is an essential component of contemporary data strategies and integrates seamlessly with advanced data architectures, stream processing platforms, and streaming ETL tools. Streaming ETL also plays a crucial role in data migration where it ensures that the data remains current and actionable.

Batch ETL vs Streaming ETL: Understanding 8 Key Differences To Revolutionize Your Data Workflow

Batch ETL vs Streaming ETL - Batch ETL vs Streaming ETL

Batch and streaming ETL cater to different data processing needs and scenarios. Let’s discuss the major differences between them to help you choose the most suitable ETL strategy for your data management objectives.

1. Data Processing Method

Batch ETL processes data in comprehensive, aggregated sets at predetermined intervals. It focuses on gathering data over a specific period and then executing the ETL process in a consolidated manner. You can use this traditional method when data is voluminous and not time-sensitive. 

On the other hand, streaming ETL operates continuously to process raw data in real-time as it is generated or received. It is particularly effective in scenarios where timely processing and analysis are crucial, like in financial trading or real-time monitoring systems.

2. Latency

By design, batch processing experiences higher data latency. The nature of batch processing inherently introduces a delay between the occurrence of a data event and the complete processing of that data for downstream consumption

This makes batch processing less suitable for applications requiring immediate data analysis and action. Essentially, it prioritizes processing large amounts of data efficiently over getting quick insights from the data.

On the other hand, streaming ETL offers low data latency and processes data immediately as it arrives. This makes it highly suitable for applications that require real-time data analysis and immediate action. In streaming ETL, the data pipeline is designed to minimize delays so you can quickly respond to emerging trends, anomalies, or critical events as they happen.

3. Data Volume Handling

Batch ETL handles large volumes of data that accumulate over time. This approach is used in situations where the overall dataset is massive and requires extensive computation, like in monthly financial reporting or large-scale data analytics.

Streaming ETL is tailored for managing data incrementally as it arrives. It can handle high-velocity data streams which makes it suitable for scenarios where data is generated continuously and needs immediate processing like IoT devices, social media feeds, or online transaction systems.

4. Scalability

Batch processing’s scalability is more rigid as it is designed to handle predetermined data volumes and intervals. It involves scaling vertically by adding more power to existing machines or horizontally by adding more machines, depending on the volume and complexity of the data. 

However, this scalability is limited by the nature of batch processing since it processes large data sets at once but less frequently.

Streaming ETL provides superior scalability as it can adapt to different data velocities and volumes in real-time. It can be scaled horizontally to handle increased data volumes and processing requirements without sacrificing performance. 

5. Complexity

Batch ETL processing is simpler in setup and operation as it deals with finite, predictable data sets. Its processes and infrastructure are designed for less frequent but large-scale data handling, which simplifies many aspects of data management. However, this simplicity also means less flexibility and slower adaptation to changing data requirements.

Streaming ETL presents higher complexity because of its nature of continuous data flow. Challenges of the streaming ETL process include real-time data ingestion, continuous transformations, and maintaining performance and data consistency. This complexity requires a higher level of technical expertise to effectively manage and operate the streaming ETL pipeline.

6. Infrastructure Needs

Batch ETL can operate with less demanding infrastructure compared to streaming ETL. It is compatible with traditional data warehouses and does not need the advanced computing resources needed for real-time processing. 

This makes batch ETL a cost-effective option for organizations with existing data infrastructures that are not geared toward real-time analytics.

Streaming ETL, however, requires more advanced infrastructure capable of handling real-time data processing and analytics. This includes powerful computing resources, high-speed data storage, and advanced networking capabilities to ensure that data is processed as soon as it arrives. The infrastructure for streaming ETL must be robust, resilient, and capable of continuous operation.

7. Error Handling

In batch ETL, errors are discovered and corrected after processing the batch. This allows for detailed error checking but it also means that if any errors affect the batch, you might have to reprocess it.

In streaming ETL, you need immediate error detection and correction to maintain data integrity and accuracy in real-time. This is crucial as errors should be identified and resolved as data flows through the system and prevent inaccurate data from affecting real-time decisions. 

Streaming ETL systems incorporate sophisticated error-handling mechanisms, including real-time monitoring and automated correction processes, to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the data processing pipeline.

8. Flexibility

Batch ETL is less adaptable to sudden changes in data or requirements. Modifications to batch ETL processes can be challenging and time-consuming as you typically have to change the scheduling and processing logic. This lack of flexibility can hold you back in dynamic environments where data requirements frequently change.

Streaming ETL offers greater flexibility and can efficiently adapt to dynamic data sources and real-time analytics needs. Its continuous nature allows for quick adjustments to the data processing pipeline. This means you can incorporate changes in data formats, sources, or processing logic with minimal disruption.

Batch ETL

Streaming ETL

Data Processing Method

Processes large sets of accumulated data at scheduled intervals.

Processes data continuously and in real-time as it arrives.


Higher latency because of intermittent processing.

Minimal latency, enabling immediate data processing and insights.

Data Volume Handling

Ideal for handling large volumes of accumulated data.

Efficient in handling high-velocity, continuously arriving data.


Limited scalability, designed for predetermined volumes and intervals.

Superior scalability, adapts efficiently to different data volumes.


Simpler setup and operation, dealing with finite, predictable datasets.

More complex because of continuous data flow and real-time processing.

Infrastructure Needs

Operates with traditional data warehouse infrastructure.

Requires advanced infrastructure for real-time processing.

Error Handling

Rectifies errors post-processing, with delayed correction.

Detects and corrects errors instantly, maintaining data flow.


Less adaptable to sudden changes.

Greater adaptability to dynamic data and real-time needs.

Diverse Applications Of Batch ETL: Exploring 5 Use Cases

Batch ETL effectively manages data in structured, time-defined periods which makes it ideal for different applications. Let’s explore its use cases with examples:

A. Daily Sales Reports

Batch ETL helps consolidate day-long sales data from multiple channels. Retail businesses use this to get a detailed view of daily operations. For example, a retail chain collects sales figures from hundreds of stores. Then, batch processing can generate a complete picture of daily sales, customer trends, and inventory requirements.

B. Monthly Financial Reconciliation & Reporting

Batch processing is pivotal in compiling and reconciling monthly financial transactions. A multinational corporation, for instance, uses batch processing to compile transactions from various global divisions. It can then create consolidated financial reports that are critical for both internal assessments and regulatory compliance.

C. End-Of-Day Stock Market Data Analysis

Batch ETL is used for processing vast amounts of stock market data after the market closes. Financial institutions utilize this for detailed analysis and strategic planning. An investment bank, for example, analyzes this data to understand daily market trends, forecast future market movements, and advise clients on investment strategies.

D. Scheduled Data Backups & Archival

Regular data backups often use batch ETL. This is especially important in industries where data integrity is critical. For instance, a large healthcare institution might perform nightly backups of patient data to ensure that information is preserved and recoverable in the event of system failures.

E. Bulk Email Processing

Batch ETL plays a major role in handling large-scale email operations like marketing campaigns. It allows for efficient, timed sending of large numbers of emails or reminders. A digital marketing agency could use this to schedule and send thousands of promotional emails while optimizing delivery times for maximum engagement.

Diverse Applications Of Streaming ETL: Exploring 5 Use Cases

Batch ETL vs Streaming ETL - Streaming ETL Use Cases

Let’s now discuss how streaming ETL is used in different industries for real-time data analysis and immediate action.

I. Real-Time Fraud Detection In Financial Transactions

In the finance sector, streaming ETL is used for detecting and addressing fraud in real-time. Banks and financial services utilize it for safeguarding customer transactions. For instance, a bank employs stream processing to identify and react to unusual transaction patterns, like unexpected large transfers, thereby protecting customers from fraudulent activities.

II. Live Monitoring & Analytics Of IoT Devices

Industries using IoT devices, like logistics or manufacturing, benefit greatly from stream processing. This real-time analysis is crucial for operational efficiency and proactive maintenance. A manufacturing company could use stream processing to continuously monitor machinery, detect anomalies instantly, and prevent potential downtimes.

III. Real-Time Social Media Sentiment Analysis

Businesses use streaming ETL to analyze social media content as it is generated. This allows for agile responses to consumer sentiment. For example, a technology firm launching a new product can use stream processing to monitor social media reactions and quickly adjust marketing tactics based on real-time feedback.

IV. Streaming Analytics For Online Gaming Platforms

Online gaming platforms rely on streaming ETL for live data analysis which enhances player experiences. This involves adapting gaming environments based on real-time player interactions. An online game developer can use this technology to adjust game scenarios and challenges, ensuring a continuously engaging and personalized gaming experience for players.

V. Real-Time Personalization For eCommerce Platforms

eCommerce platforms use streaming ETL for instant personalization of user experiences. This involves dynamically adjusting content based on user interactions. An online retailer, for instance, analyzes customer browsing behavior in real-time and adjusts product displays and recommendations to suit individual preferences, enhancing user engagement and increasing sales potential.

Selecting The Right ETL Approach: 5 Key Factors To Consider

When choosing between batch ETL and streaming ETL for your data processing needs, match the method to your specific requirements. This decision influences how you handle data, impacts your resources, and aligns with your business goals. 

For example, if your organization maintains a comprehensive data lake, batch ETL could be more aligned with your needs for structured, scheduled processing. On the other hand, for modern data teams focused on immediate insights and agility, streaming ETL and its low-latency nature would be more appropriate.

Here’s a table that will simplify the decision-making process between batch ETL and streaming ETL based on different criteria:


Select Batch ETL If

Select Streaming ETL If

Data Processing Schedule

Your data processing can be scheduled (not immediate)

Immediate data processing is crucial

Data Volume

You deal with large volumes of data collected over time

You handle high-volume, continuous data streams

Data Type Consistency

Your data sources and formats are consistent and uniform

Your data is varied and evolving

Budget Constraints

You have a limited budget for infrastructure

You are ready for higher investment in infrastructure and expertise

Business Goals

Your business goals are long-term and structured

Agility and quick response are key to your business strategy

Batch ETL vs Streaming ETL: The Role Of Timeplus 

Batch ETL vs Streaming ETL - Timeplus

Timeplus is our streaming-first data analytics platform which is designed to transform the way organizations handle and analyze processed data in real-time. At its core, Timeplus uses the open-source streaming database Proton for high performance and advanced data handling.

It is a powerful tool for processing both streaming and historical data, offering a unique blend of flexibility and efficiency. This makes Timeplus ideal for scenarios where both immediate data processing (streaming ETL) and analysis of accumulated data (batch processing) are necessary.

Let’s discuss in detail how Timeplus bridges the gap between traditional batch ETL and modern streaming ETL and offers a comprehensive solution for different data processing needs​​.

i. Streaming-First Data Analytics Platform

  • Versatile data processing: Offers end-to-end capabilities for processing both streaming and historical data, accessible to organizations of different sizes and industries.

  • SQL-based data engineering Equips data engineers with SQL tools for effective manipulation and utilization of streaming data.

ii. Optimized Storage And Analytics For Streaming ETL

  • Timeplus Data Format (TDF): Uses Timeplus Data Format (TDF) for fast serialization and deserialization which is essential for high-performance analytics.

  • Timeplus NativeLog: A specialized stream storage solution that enhances data ingestion and time series analysis, crucial for streaming ETL workflows.

iii. Advanced Analytic Engine

  • Efficient streaming data processing: Uses vectorized data computing and SIMD technology for efficient streaming data processing.

  • Late event handling: Supports detection and handling of late events and offers various window types for stream processing.

iv. Comprehensive Analytic Platform

  • Interactive real-time analysis: Supports dynamic data analysis and visualization to address the immediate data processing needs of streaming ETL.

  • Multiple data source integration: Facilitates connectivity with key streaming data sources like Kafka, S3, and Kinesis to enhance streaming ETL capabilities.

v. Versatile Data Ingestion Methods

  • Broad source support: Supports ingestion from multiple sources, with Apache Kafka as a primary source.

  • Kafka Connect utilization: Uses Kafka Connect for seamless data import and export between Kafka and external systems.

vi. Adaptive Streaming Query Framework

  • Unbounded stream processing: Facilitates both continuous (unbounded) and finite (bounded) query executions.

  • Diverse query types: Includes non-aggregation, window aggregation, and global aggregation for catering to different analytical requirements.

vii. Event-Driven Non-Aggregation Queries

  • Event-driven analysis: Executes analysis per event arrival. This makes it ideal for tasks like data listing, filtering, and transformation.

  • Real-time data handling: Ensures immediate processing and response for each incoming event.

viii. Window-Based Aggregation Methods

  • Structured stream analysis: Uses fixed time windows for aggregating data which is essential for structured, time-sensitive analysis.

  • Advanced features: Incorporates watermark mechanisms and delay options to handle complex data aggregation scenarios effectively.


When choosing between batch ETL vs streaming ETL, the verdict doesn’t dictate one as superior over the other. It really depends on the nature of your data. Flexibility to switch between batch and streaming or even using a hybrid approach could be the winning formula. Stay adaptable, prioritize efficiency, and always be prepared to reassess as your business grows and transforms.

With its enterprise-grade capabilities tailored for modern data environments, Timeplus empowers you to adopt streaming ETL at scale by providing a unified platform for end-to-end streaming ETL, lightning-fast streaming SQL for real-time processing, and pre-built integrations with Kafka, Kinesis, and GCP PubSub.

Sign up for a free trial today or schedule a demo with our team to discuss your streaming ETL needs and how Timeplus can address them.



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