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The Rise of DataOps – Atlan

Knowledge is getting even greater, and conventional information administration simply doesn’t work. DataOps is on the rise, promising to tame at this time’s chaos and context challenges.

Let’s face it — conventional information administration doesn’t work. At the moment, 75% of executives don’t belief their very own information, and solely 27% of knowledge initiatives are profitable. These are dismal numbers in what has been referred to as the “golden age of knowledge”.

As information simply retains rising in dimension and complexity, we’re struggling to maintain it underneath management. To make issues worse, information groups and their members, instruments, infrastructure, and use circumstances have gotten extra various on the similar time. The result’s information chaos like we’ve by no means seen earlier than.

DataOps has been round for a number of years, however proper now it’s on fireplace as a result of it guarantees to resolve this drawback. Only a week aside, Forrester and Gartner not too long ago made main shifts towards recognizing the significance of DataOps.

On June 23 of this yr, Forrester launched the newest model of its Wave report about information catalogs — however as a substitute of being about “Machine Studying Knowledge Catalogs” like regular, they renamed the class to “Enterprise Knowledge Catalogs for DataOps”. Every week later, on the thirtieth, Gartner launched its 2022 Hype Cycle, predicting that DataOps will absolutely penetrate the market in 2-5 years and shifting it from the far left aspect of the curve to its “Peak of Inflated Expectations”.

Google Trends data for "DataOps" searches since 2015
Google Traits information on international searches for “DataOps” since 2015. The y-axis exhibits “curiosity over time”, or a normalized model of search curiosity. 100 represents peak reputation for the time period within the given time and area.

However the rise of DataOps isn’t simply coming from analysts. At Atlan, we work with trendy information groups world wide. I’ve personally seen DataOps go from an unknown to vital, and a few firms have even constructed whole methods, features, and even roles round DataOps. Whereas the outcomes fluctuate, I’ve seen unbelievable enhancements in information groups’ agility, velocity, and outcomes.

On this weblog, I’ll break down every little thing you must learn about DataOps — what it’s, why you must care about it, the place it got here from, and easy methods to implement it.

What’s DataOps?

The primary, and maybe most necessary, factor to learn about DataOps is that it’s not a product. It’s not a device. In actual fact, it’s not something you should buy, and anybody making an attempt to let you know in any other case is making an attempt to trick you.

As an alternative, DataOps is a mindset or a tradition — a method to assist information groups and other people work collectively higher.

DataOps could be a bit onerous to know, so let’s begin with just a few well-known definitions.

DataOps is a collaborative information administration follow centered on enhancing the communication, integration and automation of knowledge flows between information managers and information customers throughout a corporation.


DataOps is the flexibility to allow options, develop information merchandise, and activate information for enterprise worth throughout all expertise tiers from infrastructure to expertise.


DataOps is an information administration methodology that emphasizes communication, collaboration, integration, automation and measurement of cooperation between information engineers, information scientists and different information professionals.

Andy Palmer

As you possibly can inform, there’s no commonplace definition for DataOps. Nevertheless, you’ll see that everybody talks about DataOps by way of being past tech or instruments. As an alternative, they concentrate on phrases like communication, collaboration, integration, expertise, and cooperation.

In our thoughts, DataOps is de facto about bringing at this time’s more and more various information groups collectively and serving to them work throughout equally various instruments and processes. Its rules and processes assist groups drive higher information administration, save time, and scale back wasted effort.

Why must you care about DataOps?

The brief reply: It helps you tame the information chaos that each information individual is aware of all too effectively.

Now for the longer, extra private reply…

At Atlan, we began as an information group ourselves, fixing social good issues with large-scale information initiatives. The initiatives had been actually cool — we started working with organizations just like the UN and Gates Basis on large-scale initiatives affecting tens of millions of individuals.

However internally, life was chaos. We handled each fireplace drill that might presumably exist, resulting in lengthy chains of irritating cellphone calls and hours spent making an attempt to determine what went flawed. As an information chief myself, this was a personally susceptible time, and I knew it couldn’t proceed.

We put our minds to fixing this drawback, did a bunch of analysis, and found the concept of “information governance”. We had been an agile, fast-paced group, and conventional information governance didn’t look like it match us. So we got here collectively, reframed our issues as “How Would possibly We” questions, and began an inner challenge to resolve these questions with new tooling and practices. By bringing inspiration from various industries again to the information world, we stumbled upon what we now know as DataOps.

It was throughout this time that we noticed what the best tooling and tradition can do for an information group. The chaos decreased, the identical huge information initiatives turned exponentially quicker and simpler, and the late-night calls turned splendidly uncommon. And in consequence, we had been in a position to accomplish much more with far much less. Our favourite instance: we constructed India’s nationwide information platform, finished by an eight-member group in simply 12 months, a lot of whom had by no means pushed a line of code to manufacturing earlier than.

We later wrote down our learnings in our DataOps Tradition Code, a set of rules to assist an information group work collectively, construct belief, and collaborate higher.

That’s in the end what DataOps does, and why it’s all the craze at this time — it helps information groups cease losing time on the countless interpersonal and technical velocity bumps that stand between them and the work they like to do. And in at this time’s economic system, something that saves time is priceless.

Atlan's DataOps Culture Code
A part of our DataOps Tradition Code

The 4 basic concepts behind DataOps

Some folks prefer to say that information groups are identical to software program groups, they usually attempt to apply software program rules on to information work. However the actuality is that they couldn’t be extra completely different.

In software program, you will have some degree of management over the code you’re employed with. In any case, a human someplace is writing it. However in an information group, you typically can’t management your information, as a result of it comes from various supply methods in a wide range of continuously altering codecs. If something, an information group is extra like a producing group, remodeling a heap of unruly uncooked materials right into a completed product. Or maybe an information group is extra like a product group, taking that product to all kinds of inner and exterior finish customers.

The best way we like to consider DataOps is, how can we take the perfect learnings from different groups and apply them to assist information groups work collectively higher? DataOps combines the perfect elements of Lean, Product Considering, Agile, and DevOps, and making use of them to the sector of knowledge administration.

The 4 basic concepts behind DataOps


Key thought: Cut back waste with Worth Stream Mappings.

Although its roots return to Benjamin Franklin’s writings from the 1730s, Lean comes from Toyota’s work within the Nineteen Fifties. Within the shadow of World Struggle II, the auto business — and the world as a complete — was getting again on its ft. For automobile producers in all places, staff had been overworked, orders delayed, prices excessive, and prospects sad.

To unravel this, Toyota created the Toyota Manufacturing System, a framework for conserving assets by eliminating waste. It tried to reply the query, how will you ship the very best high quality good with the bottom value within the shortest time? Considered one of its key concepts is to get rid of the eight kinds of waste in manufacturing wherever potential — from overproduction, ready time, transportation, underutilized staff, and so forth — with out sacrificing high quality.

The TPS was the precursor to Lean, coined in 1988 by businessman John Krafcik and popularized in 1996 by researchers James Womack and Daniel Jones. Lean centered on the concept of Worth Stream Mapping. Similar to you’ll map a producing line with the TPS, you map out a enterprise exercise in excruciating element, establish waste, and optimize the method to take care of high quality whereas eliminating waste. If part of the method doesn’t add worth to the shopper, it’s waste — and all waste must be eradicated.

What does a Worth Stream Mapping truly appear to be? Let’s begin with an instance in the actual world.

Lean: Example Value Stream Mapping
The Worth Stream Mapping for ordering a espresso in a restaurant

Say that you simply personal a restaurant, and also you wish to enhance how your prospects order a cup of espresso. Step one is to map out every little thing that occurs when a buyer takes once they order a espresso: taking the order, accepting cost, making the espresso, handing it to the shopper, and so forth. For every of those steps, you then clarify what can go flawed and the way lengthy the step can take — for instance, a buyer having bother finding the place they need to order, then spending as much as 7 minutes ready in line as soon as they get there.

How does this concept apply to information groups? Knowledge groups are just like manufacturing groups. They each work with uncooked materials (i.e. supply information) till it turns into a product (i.e. the “information product”) and reaches prospects (i.e. information customers or finish customers).

So if a provide chain has its personal worth streams, what would information worth streams appear to be? How can we apply these similar rules to a Knowledge Worth Stream Mapping? And the way can we optimize them to get rid of waste and make information group extra efficients?

Product considering

Key thought: Ask what job your product is de facto undertaking with the Jobs To Be Executed framework.

The core idea in product considering is the Jobs To Be Executed (JTBD) framework, popularized by Anthony Ulwick in 2005.

The simplest method to perceive this concept is thru the Milkshake Principle, a narrative from Clayton Christensen. A quick meals restaurant wished to extend the gross sales of their milkshakes, in order that they tried lots of completely different modifications, resembling making them extra chocolatey, chewier, and cheaper than rivals. Nevertheless, nothing labored and gross sales stayed the identical.

Subsequent, they despatched folks to face within the restaurant for hours, amassing information on prospects who purchased milkshakes. This led them to appreciate that almost half of their milkshakes had been offered to single prospects earlier than 8 am. However why? Once they got here again the following morning and talked to those folks, they realized that these folks had a protracted, boring drive to work and wanted a breakfast that they might eat within the automobile whereas driving. Bagels had been too dry, doughnuts too messy, bananas too fast to eat… however a milkshake was good, since they take some time to drink and maintain folks full all morning.

As soon as they realized that, for these prospects, a milkshake’s function or “job” was to offer a satisfying, handy breakfast throughout their commute, they knew they wanted to make their milkshakes extra handy and filling — and gross sales elevated.

The JTBD framework helps you construct merchandise that individuals love, whether or not it’s a milkshake or dashboard. For instance, a product supervisor’s JTBD is perhaps to prioritize completely different product options to attain enterprise outcomes.

How does this concept apply to information groups? Within the information world, there are two principal kinds of prospects: “inner” information group members who have to work extra successfully with information, and “exterior” information customers from the bigger group who use merchandise created by the information group.

We are able to use the JTBD framework to know these prospects’ jobs. For instance, an analyst’s JTBD is perhaps to offer the analytics and insights for these product prioritization choices. Then, when you create a JTBD, you possibly can create an inventory of the duties it takes to attain it — every of which is a Knowledge Worth Stream, and could be mapped out and optimized utilizing the Worth Stream Mapping course of above.


Key thought: Enhance velocity with Scrum and prioritize MVPs over completed merchandise.

When you’ve labored in tech or any “trendy” firm, you’ve most likely used Agile. Created in 2001 with the Agile Software program Growth Manifesto, Agile is a framework for software program groups to plan and monitor their work.

The core thought in Agile is Scrum, an iterative product administration framework primarily based on the concept of making an MVP, or minimal viable product.

Right here’s an instance: if you happen to wished to construct a automobile, the place must you begin? You might begin with conducting interviews, discovering suppliers, constructing and testing prototypes, and so forth… however that may take a very long time, throughout which the market and world can have modified, and you could find yourself creating one thing that individuals don’t truly like.

Agile: Benefits of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Six ways in which an MVP helps enhance improvement

An MVP is about shortening the event course of. To create an MVP, you ask what the JTBD is — is it actually about making a automobile, or is it about offering transportation? The primary, quickest product to resolve this job may very well be a motorcycle fairly than a automobile.

The aim of Scrum is to create one thing as fast as potential that may be taken to market and be used to collect suggestions from customers. When you concentrate on discovering the minimal answer, fairly than creating the best or dream answer, you possibly can study what customers truly need once they check your MVP — as a result of they normally can’t categorical what they really need in interviews.

How does this concept apply to information groups? Many information groups work in a silo from the remainder of the group. When they’re assigned a challenge, they’ll typically work for months on an answer and roll it out to the corporate solely to study that their answer was flawed. Possibly the issue assertion they got was incorrect, or they didn’t have the context they wanted to design the best answer, or possibly the group’s wants modified whereas they had been constructing their answer.

How can information groups use the MVP method to cut back this time and are available to a solution faster? How can they construct a delivery mindset and get early, frequent suggestions from stakeholders?

Agile can be utilized to open up siloed information groups and enhance how they work with finish information customers. It may assist information groups discover the best information, carry information fashions into manufacturing and launch information merchandise quicker, permitting them to get suggestions from enterprise customers and iteratively enhance and adapt their work as enterprise wants change.


Key thought: Enhance collaboration with launch administration, CI/CD, and monitoring.

DevOps was born in 2009 on the Velocity Convention Motion, the place engineers John Allspaw and Paul Hammond introduced about enhancing “dev & ops cooperation”.

The normal considering on the time was that software program moved in a linear circulate — the event group’s job is so as to add new options, then the operations group’s job is to maintain the options and software program steady. Nevertheless, this discuss launched a brand new thought: each dev and ops’ job is to allow the enterprise.

DevOps turned the linear improvement circulate right into a round, interconnected one which breaks down silos between these two groups. It helps groups work collectively throughout two various features through a set course of. Concepts like launch administration (imposing set “delivery requirements” to make sure high quality), and operations and monitoring (creating monitoring methods to alert when issues break), and CI/CD (steady integration and steady supply) make this potential.

DevOps toolchain
The DevOps toolchain (created by Kharnagy on Wikipedia)

How does this concept apply to information groups? Within the information world, it’s simple for information engineers and analysts to perform independently — e.g. engineers handle information pipelines, whereas analysts construct fashions — and blame one another when issues inevitably break. As an alternative of options, this simply results in bickering and resentment. As an alternative, it’s necessary to carry them collectively underneath a standard aim — making the enterprise extra data-driven.

For instance, your information scientists might depend upon both engineering or IT now to deploy their fashions—from exploratory information evaluation to deploying machine studying algorithms. With DataOps, they’ll deploy their fashions themselves and carry out evaluation shortly — no extra dependencies.

Going from DevOps to DataOps
Going from DevOps to DataOps

Be aware: I can not emphasize this sufficient — DataOps isn’t simply DevOps with information pipelines. The issue that DevOps solves is between two extremely technical groups, software program improvement and IT. DataOps solves complicated issues to assist an more and more various set of technical and enterprise groups create complicated information merchandise, every little thing from a pipeline to a dashboard or documentation. Be taught extra.

How do you truly implement DataOps?

Each different area at this time has a centered enablement perform. For instance, SalesOps and Gross sales Enablement concentrate on enhancing productiveness, ramp time, and success for a gross sales group. DevOps and Developer Productiveness Engineering groups are centered on enhancing collaboration between software program groups and productiveness for builders.

Why don’t we’ve got the same perform for information groups? DataOps is the reply.

Establish the tip customers

Reasonably than executing information initiatives, the DataOps group or perform helps the remainder of the group obtain worth from information. It focuses on creating the best instruments, processes, and tradition to assist different folks achieve success at their work.

Key consumers of DataOps
The important thing customers of DataOps

Create a devoted DataOps perform

A DataOps technique is only when it has a devoted group or perform behind it. There are two key personas on this perform:

  • DataOps Enablement Lead: They perceive information and customers, and are nice at cross-team collaboration and bringing folks collectively. DataOps Enablement Leads typically come from backgrounds like Data Architects, Knowledge Governance Managers, Library Sciences, Knowledge Strategists, Knowledge Evangelists, and even extroverted Knowledge Analysts and Engineers.
  • DataOps Enablement Engineer: They’re the automation mind within the DataOps group. Their key energy is sound data of knowledge and the way it flows between methods/groups, appearing as each advisors and executors on automation. They’re typically former Builders, Knowledge Architects, Knowledge Engineers, and Analytics Engineers.
How WeWork structured their DataOps function around 2 personas
How WeWork structured their DataOps perform round two key personas

Map out worth streams, scale back waste, and enhance collaboration

Firstly of an organization’s DataOps journey, DataOps leaders can use the JBTD framework to establish widespread information “jobs” or duties, also called Knowledge Worth Streams. Then, with Lean, they’ll do a Worth Stream Mapping train to establish and get rid of wasted effort and time in these processes.

In the meantime, the Scrum ideology from Agile helps information groups perceive how construct information merchandise extra effectively and successfully, whereas concepts from DevOps present how they’ll collaborate higher with the remainder of the group on these information merchandise.

Learnings from the 4 movements behind DataOps
What information groups can study from the 4 actions behind DataOps

Making a devoted DataOps technique and performance is much from simple. However if you happen to do it proper, DataOps has the potential to resolve a few of at this time’s largest information challenges, save time and assets throughout the group, and enhance the worth you get from information.

In our subsequent blogs, we’ll dive deeper into the “how” of implementing a DataOps technique, primarily based on finest practices we’ve seen from the groups we’ve labored with — easy methods to establish information worth streams, easy methods to construct a delivery mindset, easy methods to create a greater information tradition, and extra. Keep tuned, and let me know in case you have any burning questions I ought to cowl!

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Header photograph by Chris Liverani on Unsplash



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