Transform Data

10 dbt alternatives

Last Updated:

May 20, 2024


Mayra Peña

dbt (data build tool) is a powerful data transformation tool that allows data analysts and engineers to transform data in their warehouse more effectively. It enables users to write modular SQL queries, which it then runs on top of the data warehouse; this helps to streamline the analytics engineering workflow by leveraging the power of SQL. In addition to this, dbt incorporates principles of software engineering, like modularity, documentation and version control.

dbt Core vs dbt Cloud

Before we jump into the list of dbt alternatives it is important to distinguish dbt Core from dbt Cloud. The primary difference between dbt Core and dbt Cloud lies in their execution environments and additional features. dbt Core is an open-source package that users can run on their local systems or orchestrate with their own scheduling systems. It is great for developers comfortable with command-line tools and custom setup environments. On the other hand, dbt Cloud provides a hosted service with dbt core as its base. It offers a web-based interface that includes automated job scheduling, an integrated IDE, and collaboration features. It offers a simplified platform for those less familiar with command-line operations and those with less complex platform requirements.

You may be searching for alternatives to dbt due to preference for simplified platform management, flexibility to handle your organization’s complexity, or other specific enterprise needs. Rest assured because this article explores ten notable alternatives that cater to a variety of data transformation requirements.

Below is a quick list of the dbt alternatives we will be covering in this article:

We have organized these dbt alternatives into 3 groups: dbt Cloud alternatives, code based dbt alternatives , and GUI based dbt alternatives.

dbt Cloud Alternatives

dbt Cloud is a tool that dbt Labs provides, there are a few things to consider:

  • Flexibility, may be hindered by the inability to extend the dbt Cloud IDE with Python libraries or VS Code extensions
  • Handlining enterprise complexity of an end-to-end ELT pipeline will require a full-fledged orchestration tool
  • Costs can be higher than some of the alternatives below, especially at enterprise scale
  • Data security and compliance may require VPC deployment which is not available in dbt Cloud
  • Some features of dbt Cloud are not open source increasing vendor lock-in

Although dbt Cloud can help teams get going quickly with dbt, it is important to have a clear understanding of the long-term vision for your data platform and get a clear understanding of the total cost of ownership. You may be reading this article because you are still interested in implementing dbt but want to know what your options are other than dbt Clould.


Datacoves is tailored specifically as a seamless alternative to dbt Cloud. The platform integrates directly with existing cloud data warehouses, provides a user-friendly interface that simplifies the management and orchestration of data transformation workflows with Airflow, and provides a preconfigured VS Code IDE experience. It also offers robust scheduling and automation with managed Airflow, enabling data transformations with dbt to be executed based on specific business requirements.


Flexibility and Customization: Datacoves allows customization such as enabling  VSCode extensions or adding any Python library. This flexibility is needed when adapting to dynamic business environments and evolving data strategies, without vendor lock-in.

Handling Enterprise Complexity: Datacoves is equipped with managed Airflow, providing a full-fledged orchestration tool necessary for managing complex end-to-end ELT pipelines. This ensures robust data transformation workflows tailored to specific business requirements. Additionally, Datacoves does not just support the T (transformations) in the ELT pipeline, the platform spans across the pipeline by helping the user tie all the pieces together. From initial data load to post-transformation operations such as pushing data to marketing automation platforms.

Cost Efficiency: Datacoves optimizes data processing and reduces operational costs associated with data management as well as the need for multiple SaaS contracts. Its pricing model is designed to scale efficiently.

Data Security and Compliance: Datacoves is the only commercial managed dbt data platform that supports VPC deployment in addition to SaaS, offering enhanced data security and compliance options. This ensures that sensitive data is handled within a secure environment, adhering to enterprise security standards. A VPC deployment is advantageous for some enterprises because it helps reduce the red tape while still maintaining optimal security.

Open Source and Reduced Vendor Lock-In: Datacoves bundles a range of open-source tools, minimizing the risk of vendor lock-in associated with proprietary features. This approach ensures that organizations have the flexibility to switch tools without being tied to a single vendor.

Do-it-Yourself dbt Core

It is worth mentioning that that because dbt Core is open source a DIY approach is always an option. However, opting for a DIY solution requires careful consideration of several factors. Key among these is assessing team resources, as successful implementation and ongoing maintenance of dbt Core necessitate a certain level of technical expertise. Additionally, time to production is an important factor; setting up a DIY dbt Core environment and adapting it to your organization’s processes can be time-consuming.  

Finally, maintainability is essential- ensuring that the dbt setup continues to meet organizational needs over time requires regular updates and adjustments. While a DIY approach with dbt Core can offer customization and control, it demands significant commitment and resources, which may not be feasible for all organizations.


This is a very flexible approach because it will be made in-house and with all the organization’s needs in mind but requires additional time to implement and increases the total cost of long-term ownership.

dbt alternatives - Code based ETL tools

For organizations seeking a code-based data transformation alternative to dbt, there are two contenders they may want to consider.


SQLMesh is an open-source framework that allows for SQL or python-based data transformations. Their workflow provides column level visibility to the impact of changes to downstream models. This helps developers remediate breaking changes. SQLMesh creates virtual data environments that also eliminate the need to calculate data changes more than once. Finally, teams can preview data changes before they are applied to production.


SQLMesh allows developers to create accurate and efficient pipelines with SQL. This tool integrates well with tools you are using today such as Snowflake, and Airflow. SQLMesh also optimizes cost savings by reusing tables and minimizing computation.


Dataform enables data teams to manage all data operations in BigQuery. These operations include creating table definitions, configuring dependencies, adding column descriptions, and configuring data quality assertions. It also provides version control and integrates with GitLab or GitHub.


Dataform is a great option for those using BigQuery because it fosters collaboration among data teams with strong version control and development practices directly integrated into the workflow. Since it keeps you in BigQuery, it also reduces context switching and centralizes data models in the warehouse, improving efficiency.  

AWS Glue

AWS Glue is a serverless data integration service that makes it easy to discover, prepare, and combine data for analytics, machine learning, and application development. It automates the provisioning of ETL code. It is worth noting that Amazon Glue offers GUI elements (like Glue Studio).


AWS Glue provides flexible support for various pipelines such as ETL, ELT, batch and more, all without a vendor lock-in. It also scales on demand, offering a pay-as-you-go billing. Lastly, this all-in-one platform has tools to support all data users from the most technical engineers to the non-technical business users.

dbt alternatives - Graphical ETL tools

While experience has taught us that there is no substitute for a code-based data transformation solution. Some organizations may opt for a graphical user interface (GUI) tool. These tools are designed with visual interfaces that allow users to drag and drop components to build data integration and transformation workflows. Ideal for users who may be intimidated by a code editor like VS Code, graphical ETL tools may simplify data processes in the short term.  


Matillion is a cloud-based data integration platform that allows organizations to build and manage data pipelines and create no-code data transformations at scale. The platform is designed to be user-friendly, offering a graphical interface where users can build data transformation workflows visually.


Matillion simplifies the ETL process with a drag-and-drop interface, making it accessible for users without deep coding knowledge. It also supports major cloud data warehouses like Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, and Snowflake, enhancing scalability and performance.


Informatica offers extensive data integration capabilities including ETL, hundreds of no code connectors cloud connectors, data masking, data quality, and data replication. It also uses a metadata-driven approach for data integration. In addition, it was built with performance, reliability, and security in mind to protect your valuable data.


Informatica enhances enterprise scalability and supports complex data management operations across various data types and sources. Informatica offers several low-code and no-code features across its various products, particularly in its cloud services and integration tools. These features are designed to make it easier for users who may not have deep technical expertise to perform complex data management tasks.


Alteryx allows you to automate your analytics at scale. It combines data blending, advanced analytics, and data visualization in one platform. It offers tools for predictive analytics and spatial data analysis.  


Alteryx enables users to perform complex data analytics with AI. It also improves efficiency by allowing data preparation, analysis, and reporting to be done within a single tool. It can be deployed on-prem or in the cloud and is scalable to meet enterprise needs.

Azure Data Factory

Azure Data Factory is a fully managed, serverless data integration service that integrates with various Azure services for data storage and data analytics. It provides a visual interface for data integration workflows which allows you to prepare data, construct ETL and ELT processes, and orchestrate and monitor pipelines code-free.


Azure Data Factory can be beneficial for users utilizing various Azure services because it allows seamless integration with other Microsoft products, which is ideal for businesses already invested in the Microsoft ecosystem. It also supports a pay-as-you-go model.


Talend offers an end-to-end modern data management platform with real-time or batch data integration as well as a rich suite of tools for data quality, governance, and metadata management. Talend Data Fabric combines data integration, data quality, and data governance into a single, low-code platform.


Talend can enhance data quality and reliability with built-in tools for data cleansing and validation. Talend is a cloud-independent solution and supports cloud, multi-cloud, hybrid, or on-premises environments.

SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services)

SQL Server Integration Services are a part of Microsoft SQL Server, providing a platform for building enterprise-level data integration and data transformations solutions. With this tool you can extract and transform data from a wide variety of sources such as XML data files, flat files, and relational data sources, and then load the data into one or more destinations. It Includes graphical tools and wizards for building and debugging packages.


SQL Server Integration Services are ideal for organizations heavily invested in SQL Server environments. They offer extensive support and integration capabilities with other Microsoft services and products.


While we believe that code is the best option to express the complex logic needed for data pipelines, the dbt alternatives we covered above offer a range of features and benefits that cater to different organizational needs. Tools like Matillion, Informatica, and Alteryx provide graphical interfaces for managing ETL processes, while SQLMesh, and Dataform offer code-based approaches to SQL and Python based data transformation.  

For those specifically looking for a dbt Cloud alternative, Datacoves stands out as a tailored, flexible solution designed to integrate seamlessly with modern data workflows, ensuring efficiency and scalability.

Mayra Peña

Data Engineering | Technical Customer Success.
Solving enterprise data challenges quickly with dbt & Airflow.

Looking for an enterprise data platform?

Datacoves offers managed dbt core and Airflow and can be deployed in your private cloud.


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