The Job Modeler IDE's graphical SQL editor and test facility, called SQLBuilder, helps with SQL chores. Talend generates native SQL code for every supported database, no additional effort required. XSLT and XPath are in tow for XML processing. And a good set of orchestration components makes long-running and staged processing a possibility.
Onboard debugging offers step-by-step trace and variable inspection, with real-time stats and trace data viewable directly from the layout. Other niceties, like auto- generation of HTML documentation, sweeten the offering.
You need to be able to trust the accuracy of your data, not just push it around. Talend has data governance covered with good provisions for data quality and profiling. Data conformity and consistency, beyond de-duplication, is achieved using filters such as search-and-replace, interval- and fuzzy- matching, and schema-based transformation. The profiler adds metrics on data quality -- tracked and assessed over time -- and graphically depicts stats and performance summaries for quick isolation of data in need of scrubbing.
I was impressed by Talend's rich set of components for third-party products, too. Support ranges from the higher end of OLAP cubes and Microsoft AX Server, down to QuickBooks and Google Apps. Even open BI solutions, including Jaspersoft and SpagoBI, as well as CRM apps, including Salesforce.com, Sugar, and Centric CRM, are supported.
Talend needs to work on automating management and partitioning of distributed jobs. I'd like to see Talend (and the Talend community) generate more industry-specific components -- say, to address HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) directly. And although Talend offers ELT support in addition to ETL, currently ELT mode is limited to Oracle, MySQL, and Teradata databases.
Support is always a key concern for open source. Although Talend is still a young company, its worldwide presence enables it to deliver service, support, and training 24/7. Support is included in its team-oriented Integration Suite, along with added provisions for distributed monitoring and load balancing down to the CPU core. Talend even offers a free SaaS edition, Talend on Demand, with subscription-based support.
Clearly Talend has much to offer. Before you break the bank for a six-figure proprietary alternative or ponder the ongoing maintenance nightmare of a hand-coded solution, you'd be foolish not to explore Talend for your next data integration project.