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ETL is short for extract, transform, load, three database functions that are combined into one tool to pull data out of one database and place it into another database. Extract is the process of reading data from a database. Transform is the process of converting the extracted data from its previous form into the form it needs to be in so that it can be placed into another database.
Transformation occurs by using rules or lookup tables or by combining the data with other data. Load is the process of writing the data into the target database. ETL is used to migrate data from one database to another, to form data marts and data warehouses and also to convert databases from one format or type to another.