How to Evaluate Data Platforms for Your Company

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Companies and organizations create information and are progressively using this information to generate extra worths. While generally this was a task for organisation administration analysts, today data plays an important function in all elements and divisions of the organizations. To allow business for this modification, an efficient and long term information architecture is needed. Here we are going to talk about lots of elements and technical obstacles that require to be resolved to develop such an information architecture.

The inspiration for this post originated from the observation that data platforms frequently are reduced to the database element which is a substantial oversimplification of the entire data lifecycle. We want to highlight the quantity of functionality that is needed for a standard, long term data method in a company.

What Is an Information Platform?

An information platform is a service that permits you to ingest, process, shop, access, examine, and present information. These are thought about the defining functions of what we call a Data Platform. This platform can be broken down into theree parts:

  • Information Warehouse: ingest, process, shop, access.

  • Service Intelligence: evaluate and provide.

  • Data Science: Data and Artificial Intelligence (an unique type of analysis).

Although keeping and processing data is at the heart of a data platform it does not stop there. To get a good summary of the general information management jobs, we put together a list of 17 requirements concerning the whole information engineering and analytics lifecycle.

  1. Information Architecture (Facilities, scaling, database)
  2. Import User Interfaces
  3. Information Change (ETL)
  4. Performance
  5. Process Automation
  6. Tracking
  7. Data Historization
  8. Information Versioning
  9. Surrogate Secret Management
  10. Analysis/Reporting
  11. Information Science Workspace
  12. External Access/API
  13. Use
  14. Multiuser Advancement Process
  15. In-platform Paperwork
  16. Documentation
  17. Security
  18. Expenses

In the following sections, we will give a short intro to each of these requirements but will not go too much into technical details.

1. Data Architecture

The core information architecture is one of the most important aspects in a data platform architecture, however without a doubt not the only one. The goal is to find an appropriate storage and database option to fulfill your requirements. There are 3 fundamental choices to pick from with impact on all the other topics listed below:

Relational Database

Very mature database systems with a great deal of integrated intelligence to handle large information sets efficiently. These systems have the most meaningful analysis tools, but often are more complex with regard to upkeep. Nowadays, these systems are also available as distributed systems and can manage exceptionally large data sets. Examples are PostgreSQL with Citus or Greenplum cluster service, MariaDB/MySQL with Galera Cluster, Amazon Redshift, Oracle, MSSQL, …

NoSQL Style Sharding Database

These systems sacrifice some of the classical functions of relational databases for more power in other locations. If you have substantial quantities of data or specific requirements for streaming or real-time data you need to take a look at these specialized information systems.

File-Based Systems

It is possible to create an information strategy exclusively on files. File structures like the Parquet file standard allow you to use really cheap storage to save very large data sets dispersed over many storage nodes or on a Cloud Object Shop like Amazon S3. The primary benefit is that the data storage system is enough to respond to data access requests. The two systems above requirement to run services on additional compute nodes to react to data questions. With a solution like Apache Drill you can query parquet files with comparable convenience that is known from SQL.

When watching out for the hardware architecture to support your chosen data architecture a few standard choices are on the table.

  1. You can attempt and develop your platform depending on services used by significant cloud suppliers. On cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud you can plug together a choice of rather simple services to develop an information platform that covers our criteria list. This may look basic and cheap at little scale, but can turn out to be rather complicated and rather expensive when you scale out and need to personalize.
  2. In contrast there are platforms based on self operated hardware consisting of cloud virtual makers and specific software stacks. Here you have a maximum of versatility however likewise require to respond to many of the requirements in our list by producing your own code and customized options.
  3. As a last category we would point out more complete and devoted independent cloud information platforms like Repods, Snowflake, Panoply or Qubole ( Disclaimer: The author is from the Repods platform). These platforms handle basically of the requirements on our list out of package.

2. Performance

We do not want to go into more information and rather focus on the less recognized topics of an information platform.

3. Import User Interfaces

We categorize import interfaces into 3 different sections.

Data Warehosuing graphic

  1. Files– Still the most common type of information.

  2. Web Providers– Plenty offered on the net with relevant data.

  3. Databases– Although in many companies a lot of data is stored in standard databases, in many cases direct database access is not exposed to the internet and for that reason not offered for Cloud Data Platforms.

  4. Real-time streams– Real-time information streams as provided by messaging routers (speaking WAMP, MQTT, AMQP, …) and are not utilized quite today but are going to become more vital with the increase of IoT.

4. Data Change ETL

Information imported into the information platform usually has to undergo some information transformations to be usable for analysis down the roadway. This procedure is typically called ETL (Extract, Transform, Load). These processes typically develop a table from the raw data, appoint data types, filter values, sign up with existing data, produce obtained columns/rows, and use all sort of custom-made logic to the raw information. Creating and handling ETL procedures is sometimes called data engineering and is the most time consuming job in any data environment. This job takes up 80%of the total human efforts. Larger data storage facilities can contain countless ETL processes with different stages and dependences and processing series.

5. Process Automation

Process automation

When you have numerous sources, targets, and data improvement processes in between you also have lots of reliances and with this a particular run schedule logic. The automation of processes becomes part of every data warehouse and involves a great deal of intricacy. There are devoted tools (Apache Air flow, Automate, Control-M, Luigi, …) to deal with just the scheduling of processes.

Process automation likewise requires you to handle the selection of information portions to procedure, i.e. in an incremental load circumstance every execution of a process requires to incrementally select particular portions of source data to hand down to the target. This “Data Scope Management” is typically carried out by a metadata driven approach, i.e. there are dedicated metadata tables that keep an eye on the procedure state of each chunk and can be queried to coordinate the processing of all chunks.

6. Tracking

Larger data storage facility systems can easily contain hundreds of tables with hundreds of automated ETL procedures managing the information flow. Errors appearing at runtime are nearly unavoidable and a lot of them have to be looked after by manual intervention. With this quantity of intricacy you definitely require a way to monitor what is going on in the platform.

7. Data Historization

The requirement to manage longer histories of data is at the core of each information storage facility effort. In reality, the data warehousing job itself could be summarized as the task of merging seperate portions of information into a homogenous information history. Data is naturally generated in time and as such there develops the need to increment an existing information stock with brand-new information. To robustly handle information histories, “information historization” is usually used. Technically, time ranges in tables are tracked utilizing dedicated time range columns. This is various to information versioning in the sense that historization is worried about real life timestamps whereas versioning is typically interested in technical insert timestamps (See section below).

8. Information Versioning

By versioning information you can track data corrections over time for later recovery of old analysis. Versioning allows you to apply non-destructive corrections to existing data.

  • Produce version snapshots on the storage subsystem ( comparable to backups).

  • The underlying database system might come with assistance for version tracking.

  • Versioning might be handled by the information warehouse system.

  • Versioning can be executed as a custom-made change logic in the user space.

9. Surrogate Key Management

Data storage facilities are used to consolidate data from lots of sources with different identifiers for the particular items.

10 Analysis/Reporting

A data platform’s function is to prepare raw information for analysis and store this data for longer time periods. Analysis can be conducted in lots of tastes.

There are numerous tools described as Service Intelligence tools (BI tools) concerned only with producing analytical and beautiful/human legible data visualizations. To prepare consumable data portions for discussion, a data platform offers functions to produce information extracts and aggregates from the larger information stock.

Answering particular service questions by wisely querying the data shops needs a terrific offer of proficiency with analytical question languages.

11 Data Science

Nowadays, training machine discovering designs is a brand-new requirement that information platforms need to serve. The more advanced techniques are implemented using Python or R together with a variety of specialized libraries like NumPy, Pandas, Scikit-learn, TensorFlow, PyTorch, and even more customized libraries for natural language processing or image acknowledgment.

Because these tasks can be computationally requiring, additional compute hardware is required in addition to the existing analytics hardware. While this opens up a big option of tools for you to pick from, you once again are facing the obstacle of hosting and managing compute resources to back extremely demanding artificial intelligence tasks.

12 External Access/API

All the collected data in the platform exists to be consumed for different purposes. Possible channels that are considered here are:

  • SQL access for direct analysis or by means of BI tools.

  • API Access (REST demand) as a service for web sites or apps.

  • Notfications through push alerts or e-mail for end users or administrators.

  • File exports for additional processing or data delivery to other parties.

13 Usability

Usability is an extremely broad and subjective classification and thinks about things such as how simple it is to produce and handle items (users, data storage facilities, tables, changes, reports, and so on) in the platform. The user generated content needs the usage of code, because the whole topic of data engineering and analysis is by nature complex and needs a big amount of expressiveness.

14 Multiuser Workflow

This category evaluates the assistance for user interaction and sharing of work and information.

15 In-Platform Paperwork

A data platform is used to implement a lot of customized complexity with lots of getting involved users, over a longer period of time.

This requires proper documents of the user offered content. Here, we examine how the platforms support this task. Naturally, documents can always be prepared beyond the platform, but this implies the risk of divergence of details. External paperwork quickly becomes outdated and for that reason simply as rapidly looses trust from the users.

16 Paperwork

All platforms need a specific efficiency by the user. Information engineering is no casual job. Correct paperwork on the information of the platform features is therefore required for expert use of a platform.

17 Security

Data Platform Security can be separated into security of storage (data at rest), interaction (data in transportation), and access control.

18 Expense Structure

We determine 3 significant expense drivers of a data platform:

  • Licenses
  • Infrastructure (Hardware)
  • Staff
  • Today, the majority of software stacks can be executed in high quality utilizing open source and/or totally free software application. Certified software or services normally need less maintenance effort and low level system know how.

Compute hardware can be utilized by cloud companies on a pay per use basis. The same holds basically for storage infrastructure.

To approximate your hardware expenses, you need to consider the facilities to cover the following elements:

  • Database
  • Information Improvements
  • Analytics
  • Data Science
  • Automation
  • Monitoring
  • Hosting of Content

Despite the fact that the database is usually the biggest part it is by far not the only one.


Data platforms ought to not be lowered to the underlying core database however instead should be thought about as a community of services that require to be stabilized.

The above list supplies a basic entry point for evaluating information platforms for their physical fitness as a long term, manageble information platform for organizations with the main purpose of aggregating longer histories of data for more substantial statistics and projections. This list applies only in part if your goal is to solve extremely particular information related issues for a shorter time period.


huge data.
information analysis.
data integration.
data platform.
data warehouse

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