An Exploration Of What Data Automation Can Provide To Data Engineers And Ascend's Journey To Make It A Reality - Episode 320

Summary

The dream of every engineer is to automate all of their tasks. For data engineers, this is a monumental undertaking. Orchestration engines are one step in that direction, but they are not a complete solution. In this episode Sean Knapp shares his views on what constitutes proper automation and the work that he and his team at Ascend are doing to help make it a reality.

Bigeye LogoBigeye is an industry-leading data observability platform that gives data engineering and science teams the tools they need to ensure their data is always fresh, accurate and reliable. Companies like Instacart, Clubhouse, and Udacity use Bigeye’s automated data quality monitoring, ML-powered anomaly detection, and granular root cause analysis to proactively detect and resolve issues before they impact the business.

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RudderStack Logo

RudderStack provides all your customer data pipelines in one platform. You can collect, transform, and route data across your entire stack with its event streaming, ETL, and reverse ETL pipelines.

RudderStack’s warehouse-first approach means it does not store sensitive information, and it allows you to leverage your existing data warehouse/data lake infrastructure to build a single source of truth for every team.

RudderStack also supports real-time use cases. You can Implement RudderStack SDKs once, then automatically send events to your warehouse and 150+ business tools, and you’ll never have to worry about API changes again.

Visit dataengineeringpodcast.com/rudder to sign up for free today, and snag a free T-Shirt just for being a Data Engineering Podcast listener.

Your data platform needs to be scalable, fault tolerant, and performant, which means that you need the same from your cloud provider. Linode has been powering production systems for over 17 years, and now they’ve launched a fully managed Kubernetes platform. With the combined power of the Kubernetes engine for flexible and scalable deployments, and features like dedicated CPU instances, GPU instances, and object storage you’ve got everything you need to build a bulletproof data pipeline. If you go to dataengineeringpodcast.com/linode today you’ll even get a $100 credit to use on building your own cluster, or object storage, or reliable backups, or… And while you’re there don’t forget to thank them for being a long-time supporter of the Data Engineering Podcast!


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Announcements

  • Hello and welcome to the Data Engineering Podcast, the show about modern data management
  • When you’re ready to build your next pipeline, or want to test out the projects you hear about on the show, you’ll need somewhere to deploy it, so check out our friends at Linode. With their new managed database service you can launch a production ready MySQL, Postgres, or MongoDB cluster in minutes, with automated backups, 40 Gbps connections from your application hosts, and high throughput SSDs. Go to dataengineeringpodcast.com/linode today and get a $100 credit to launch a database, create a Kubernetes cluster, or take advantage of all of their other services. And don’t forget to thank them for their continued support of this show!
  • Atlan is the metadata hub for your data ecosystem. Instead of locking your metadata into a new silo, unleash its transformative potential with Atlan’s active metadata capabilities. Push information about data freshness and quality to your business intelligence, automatically scale up and down your warehouse based on usage patterns, and let the bots answer those questions in Slack so that the humans can focus on delivering real value. Go to dataengineeringpodcast.com/atlan today to learn more about how Atlan’s active metadata platform is helping pioneering data teams like Postman, Plaid, WeWork & Unilever achieve extraordinary things with metadata and escape the chaos.
  • RudderStack helps you build a customer data platform on your warehouse or data lake. Instead of trapping data in a black box, they enable you to easily collect customer data from the entire stack and build an identity graph on your warehouse, giving you full visibility and control. Their SDKs make event streaming from any app or website easy, and their state-of-the-art reverse ETL pipelines enable you to send enriched data to any cloud tool. Sign up free… or just get the free t-shirt for being a listener of the Data Engineering Podcast at dataengineeringpodcast.com/rudder.
  • The only thing worse than having bad data is not knowing that you have it. With Bigeye’s data observability platform, if there is an issue with your data or data pipelines you’ll know right away and can get it fixed before the business is impacted. Bigeye let’s data teams measure, improve, and communicate the quality of your data to company stakeholders. With complete API access, a user-friendly interface, and automated yet flexible alerting, you’ve got everything you need to establish and maintain trust in your data. Go to dataengineeringpodcast.com/bigeye today to sign up and start trusting your analyses.
  • Your host is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Sean Knapp about the role of data automation in building maintainable systems

Interview

  • Introduction
  • How did you get involved in the area of data management?
  • Can you describe what you mean by the term "data automation" and the assumptions that it includes?
  • One of the perennial challenges of automation is that there are always steps that are resistant to being performed without human involvement. What are some of the tasks that you have found to be common problems in that sense?
  • What are the different concerns that need to be included in a stack that supports fully automated data workflows?
  • There was recently an interesting article suggesting that the "left-to-right" approach to data workflows is backwards. In your experience, what would be required to allow for triggering data processes based on the needs of the data consumers? (e.g. "make sure that this BI dashboard is up to date every 6 hours")
  • What are the tasks that are most complex to build automation for?
  • What are some companies or tools/platforms that you consider to be exemplars of "data automation done right"?
    • What are the common themes/patterns that they build from?
  • How have you approached the need for data automation in the implementation of the Ascend product?
  • How have the requirements for data automation changed as data plays a more prominent role in a growing number of businesses?
    • What are the foundational elements that are unchanging?
  • What are the most interesting, innovative, or unexpected ways that you have seen data automation implemented?
  • What are the most interesting, unexpected, or challenging lessons that you have learned while working on data automation at Ascend?
  • What are some of the ways that data automation can go wrong?
  • What are you keeping an eye on across the data ecosystem?

Contact Info

Parting Question

  • From your perspective, what is the biggest gap in the tooling or technology for data management today?

Closing Announcements

  • Thank you for listening! Don’t forget to check out our other shows. Podcast.__init__ covers the Python language, its community, and the innovative ways it is being used. The Machine Learning Podcast helps you go from idea to production with machine learning.
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Links

The intro and outro music is from The Hug by The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

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