Recently I was after ways which I could use to integrate (ETL) data from separate sources into the Cloud. Move data between MS SQL Server and Salesforce or MS SQL Server to Oracle for example. But mostly I was interested in an easy peasy way to migrate data from back-end database systems such as MS SQL Server into the Salesforce Cloud.
How is that possible? First thing which comes to mind is API, Java, Import & Export and custom code, code and code.
Not really, all you need is Informatica on Demand! A simple and intro level absolutely free ETL tool which is running in the Cloud!
Informatica is a very reputable company in the Data Integration field. Informatica on Demand is part of their free Software as a Service (SaaS) offering. An ETL tool which is itself in the Cloud. You don't have to install any software anywhere in your infrastructure, apart from a little Informatica agent which identifies your network to the Informatica Cloud. All you do is just create a login on their website and start working! How cool is that! You login to the Informatica on Demand website and configure and even schedule your data migration and ETL tasks between your databases and the Cloud as easy as checking your email!
This free tool does schema-to-schema migrations only. It doesn't allow you to migrate by writing custom SQL on the source window and loading its result set to the target. It is limited to table-to-table migrations between separate sources and targets. You can however, save your SQL as a view in your source database and the tool will see this as a table object.
In the same Informatica on Demand website and within the same Cloud infrastructure, they also have a suite of other more advanced tools such as Data Synchronization, Data Replication and Data Assessment. This stack of tools is not free. But a 30 day trial is still possible.
Overall, I found the tool quite easy to use and with few clicks, I could transfer thousands of rows from say Oracle to Salesforce and from Microsoft SQL Server to Oracle. No need to install and configure gateways, ODBC and no need tweak any hardware locally. It also has a scheduler which works and sends emails when tasks are complete and all this is still hosted and running in The Could. So you don't have to backup anything or look after things.
Here is a snapshot of the Field Mapping screen: