Introduction to a Data Analytics Stack
Today, data guides most decisions in the companies. These decisions could be launching a new product, diversification, research and development, promotional offers, advertising campaigns, etc.
Business teams always need data at their disposal. But the challenge they face is that the data is scattered across different sources say MixPanel, Amazon Redshift, Google Analytics, Salesforce or more.
Let me explain with a simple example –
You are a mobile network service provider. Your customer complaints’ data is stored in Zendesk and CRM data in Salesforce. For discovering real-time insights from both, it is important to merge the data for querying and processing. Bringing the scattered data to a platform in order to provide a unified view is termed as data integration.
Here is what you will be looking at:
Hevo integrates your data seamlessly. It supports pre-built data integrations from 100+ data sources. Hevo is a consistent and reliable solution for your ETL process. You can enrich your data and transform it into analysis-ready without writing any code. You can also leverage the extensive logging capabilities of Hevo to understand how your pipeline behaves.
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Let’s discuss some unbeatable features of Hevo:
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- Fully Automated: Hevo can be set-up in a few minutes and requires zero maintenance and management.
- Scalability: Hevo is built to handle millions of records per minute without any latency.
- Secure: Hevo offers two-factor authentication and end-to-end encryption so that your data is safe and secure.
- Fault-Tolerant: Hevo is capable of detecting anomalies in the incoming data and informs you instantly. All the affected rows are kept aside for correction so that it doesn’t hamper your workflow.
- Real-Time: Hevo provides real-time data migration. So, your data is always ready for analysis.
- Live Support: Hevo team is available round the clock to extend exceptional support to its customers through chat, email, and support calls.
Components of Data Analytics Stack
Data integration begins with the extraction of data, followed by data transformation and ends with loading the data into a warehouse.
Performed by a data pipeline, this process is the core component of a data analytics stack. The three components of a data analytics stack are – data pipeline, data warehouse, and data visualization.
Let us understand more about the data analytics stack:
1. Data Pipeline
To fetch data from scattered sources such as MySQL, log files, Google Analytics to a data warehouse, say Redshift; you require a data pipeline.
A data pipeline moves your data from one system to another while transforming it along the way. The process of blending data from different sources, existing in different formats takes place in a data pipeline.
There are three steps which take place in data pipelines- Extract, Transform, Load. Of which Transform and Load can occur in any order. They are abbreviated as ETL and ELT.
Let us try to understand ETL and ELT with a simple use case.
A leading fashion retail company has its presence in the United States and Europe. The operations take place in different time zones – PST, CST and UTC.
To know the sales figures per day, you can either transform the time zone into a standard format and then load in the data warehouse (ETL). Else you can load the data as it is and perform desired transformations at the end (ELT). ELT is a more feasible option here. It also gives the user flexibility to customize their pivoted data.
Extraction, Transformation, and Loading are key components of the data centralization toolbox.
The extraction process deals with retrieval of desired data from different sources. It also includes identification and selection of the data as the source usually contains unwanted data or data of little interest. The complexity of the extraction process varies and it depends on the type of data source of the analytics stack.
The different sources could be of the following types:
Databases: MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Cassandra
Cloud applications: Google Analytics, Salesforce, MixPanel, SendGrid
Data streams: Mobile application, Website, Sensors in machines, Smart home devices
Flat files: Log files, Excel files, Amazon S3
The extracted data is cleaned, sorted and formatted as per the requirements. This process is called as data transformation. Joining and merging of data from different data sources takes place during the transformation phase. Data from some sources might require fewer transformations, whereas others may require multiple transformations – such as validation, summarization, etc.
Loading refers to physical transportation of data into a data warehouse. Data warehouses are updated periodically and records are often loaded to multiple tables in one go.
2. Data Warehouse
A data warehouse is a large storage space used to consolidate data which is accessible to different departments in an organization. It is an integral part of a data stack. If the data has a smaller volume, it is feasible to operate using SQL databases like MySQL or PostgreSQL. But as the data complexity grows, data warehousing becomes a need.
Data warehousing models have evolved with changing business requirements. Some of the widely used modern data warehouses are – Amazon Redshift (Amazon Web Services), BigQuery (Google) and Snowflake.
A data warehouse operates upon historical data. For avoiding data complications, a data warehouse and organization’s operational databases are kept separate. Once it is loaded in a warehouse, the data to be analyzed should be easy to interpret. At this juncture, data visualization tools play a pivotal part.
3. Data Visualisation
It is easier to understand the growth per quarter or sales figures from a pictorial view instead of a heavy excel file. Visualisation is important as it makes it easier to comprehend the data. Dashboards provide a combined view of multiple analyses on a single platform.
There are many commercial as well as open source data visualization tools available. Paid tools like Periscope data, Tableau, Looker, QlikView allow SQL queries. More features of these widely used tools are listed in this blog.
Free tools like – Metabase, Redash and Superset also support SQL backends used for data analytics. You can organize reports in dashboards in all of them.
If you are looking for an easier solution to your data integration process, you should try – Hevo.
Hevo is a No-code Data Pipeline that has 100+ inbuilt connectors that can connect to any source in a minute. You can also leverage the extensive logging capabilities of Hevo to understand how your pipeline behaves.
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