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Thought Leadership

3 Key Elements Of a Data Observability Platform

April 20, 2023
10 Min Read

As enterprise data stacks become more complex, they need a way to organize and guide them to optimal data health. Data observability is that essential ingredient.

While you may have a robust set of processing tools and systems, data observability is absolutely crucial for your business to be able to make insights-powered decisions that lead to real-world successes. Those who do take advantage of data observability solutions unlock a number of benefits, including:

  • Early Issue Detection: Catch errors in complex data pipelines before they turn into costly mistakes. 
  • Minimize Downtime: With debugging and troubleshooting tools, data observability platforms help teams identify and resolve issues rapidly, thereby reducing downtime.
  • Rapid Data Engineering: With the power of real-time monitoring and automated tools, your organization will appreciate dramatic improvements in data engineering productivity and innovation.
  • Maintain Data Quality: Your tactics and strategies are only as good as the data and insights backing them. Observability makes it easy for analysts to monitor data quality metrics, ensuring data is accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Optimize Data Pipeline: Observability solutions like Acceldata can help your team identify trends and patterns in data that can help them maximize data by optimizing your pipeline and improving system performance. This can lead to increased efficiency and cost savings. 

The importance of data observability is abundantly clear. However, not all data observability platforms are created equal. It’s vital to do your research before you invest in a platform to determine whether or not it has the features you need. There are three components that any good data observability solution should provide. These are:

  1. Real-Time Data Pipeline Monitoring
  2. Pipeline Visualization and Analysis
  3. Customization of Capabilities

These features are essential for data observability. By utilizing them in your organization, you can take advantage of all the benefits of data observability and help your business make better, more informed decisions. 

Real-Time Data Pipeline Monitoring

The best data pipeline tools monitor the entire pipeline by collecting and analyzing data from a variety of sources. By continuously monitoring the flow of data from source to destination, any potential issues can be rapidly identified and addressed. In most organizations, there are hundreds or even thousands of different data sources, making it impossible for a human, or even a team of humans, to manually analyze all of it.

The following chart is from a recent Eckerson Group white paper. It illustrates the previous simplicity of the data lifecycle, including the process involved ingesting data from an application or SQL database into a data warehouse using a straightforward ETL or CDC tool. As you can see, occasionally, the data underwent transformations, cleaning, and quality testing during this stage. Subsequently, the data was stored and transmitted to a basic analytics application, which analyzed the data and generated regular reports, such as weekly or monthly summaries, or displayed them on a dashboard.

Evolution of data pipelines
Evolution of data pipelines. Source: Eckerson Group

To achieve real-time monitoring, a data observability platform like Acceldata leverages advanced technologies, including machine learning algorithms and anomaly detection techniques. With these capabilities, these platforms can also be set up to automatically generate alerts and notifications when any errors or problems are detected. Some providers even offer automated features that can take corrective actions without any human involvement required. 

Do you need real-time pipeline monitoring? The answer for modern enterprise is a resounding affirmative. Data has become a critical asset for organizations of all sizes. In today’s fast-paced, global economy, data teams must ensure that their pipelines are operating efficiently, reliably, and accurately. Downtime or data loss, even for a short time, could result in massive financial and reputational losses for the organization. However, with real-time observability, analysts can troubleshoot issues before they impact your business.

Pipeline Visualization And Analysis

The second feature we’re covering here is data pipeline visualization and analysis. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Nowhere is this more true than in the complex space of the modern distributed data stack. Truly effective data observability platforms utilize graphics and visuals to make it easier for data teams to understand the flow of data through the pipeline. This can facilitate the identification of problem areas or bottlenecks.

A good observability tool allows you to drill down into specific data points to identify the source of issues and to trace the flow of data as it moves throughout the organization. There should be clear dashboards that provide recommendations for fixing and optimizing the data pipeline. When comparing data pipeline observability tools, look at the dashboards, charts, graphs, and other visualizations that the platform provides. Be sure that these are informative and meet your needs. 

Acceldata provides end-to-end visibility, giving you insights into your data assets and pipelines throughout the data lifecycle. Furthermore, this visibility applies to all your data, not just your data currently within your pipelines. That means you get visibility into your data-at-rest, data-in-motion, and data-for-consumption.

Acceldata data observability operational intelligence
Acceldata's data observability platform

Customization of Capabilities

Every organization has unique requirements when it comes to data pipeline monitoring. A one-size-fits-all approach is insufficient. That’s why customization of capabilities is the third key feature of any data observability platform. When it comes to alerts, notifications, and dashboards, you need to be able to customize the platform to deliver the information and insights you need. 

One of the core principles of data observability is flexibility. Here at Acceldata, we have designed our solution to provide robust customization so that you can utilize data observability to reach your goals. For example, users interested in optimizing their cloud data platform spend can utilize our “cost explorer” tool to track and analyze spend using composable dashboards. If your organization is more concerned with data reliability, Acceldata’s platform can be tailored to increase data quality and timeliness. If, on the other hand, operational intelligence is your objective, look no further than Acceldata’s contextual drill-downs and interactive dashboards. Utilize custom alerts, notifications, trends, and triggers to rapidly resolve the specific and unique issues impacting your organization. 

Additional Features To Look For In Data Observability Tools

If you’ve found a data observability platform that includes the three main features we have covered here, you can be confident that the tool you are considering will be able to get the job done. However, there are several other components and capabilities to be aware of that you should consider when comparing these platforms. Here are three critical use cases that align with the needs of all data teams, irrespective of size or industry:

  1. Automated Testing and Validation
  2. Data Lineage and Tracking
  3. Integrations

Automating repetitive tasks such as data validation and testing can reduce the risk of human error and help you ensure that your data is accurate as well as reliable. Data lineage tracking means that you should always be able to track data from its source to its destination. These insights can be used to provide transparency into how the data is being used and ensure compliance with data regulations. Finally, a good data observability platform integrates into the data tools already being used within your organization. For example, Acceldata has built a wide variety of integrations with some of the biggest data environments, including Snowflake, Databricks, and Hadoop

How To Improve Pipeline Reliability and Platform Performance

One of the best ways to improve your data pipeline’s reliability and your platform’s performance is through a data observability tool. Early detection and resolution of issues provided by real-time observability enable you to prevent downtime and data loss.

Visualization of the entire data pipeline and the ability to drill down into individual data points make it easier for data teams to understand the overall data pipeline to identify and eliminate bottlenecks. Finally, the customization features offered by many data observability platforms make it easier to adjust the tool to suit your specific needs. 

Acceldata offers a comprehensive data pipeline observability solution with everything you need to optimize your data pipeline and ensure your data’s reliability. Learn more about how Acceldata can provide real-time insights to support data-driven decision-making. 

Photo by Alex Lehner on Unsplash

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