Data mesh is a novel approach to framing data architecture in a decentralized manner. It enables individual domain teams within your organization to manage and control all tasks related to the data used in their domains. Many platforms can help facilitate the implementation of data mesh architecture within your enterprise, and Snowflake is one of the effective solutions.

This article comprehensively describes all there is to know about a Snowflake data mesh, the associated challenges of building one, and some use cases to help you easily manage data within your organization.

What is Data Mesh? 

Snowflake Data Mesh: Data Mesh Structure
Snowflake Data Mesh: Data Mesh Structure

Data mesh is a decentralized enterprise data architecture framework in which data is organized according to different business units, such as sales, finance, marketing, etc. Each unit treats its domain data as a product, managing the consumption, storage, transformation, and output of this data independently. The data mesh helps in improving the data quality, breaks data silos, and accelerates data delivery operations through self-managed data infrastructure.

The successful implementation of data mesh depends on the following four principles:

Domain-driven Ownership

Effective data mesh implementation requires each business team to take ownership of managing their domain data. The management tasks include ingesting, cleaning, transforming, and governing their data to create refined data products.

Data as a Product

Your organization’s data is not just raw information but the foundation for delivering the final products or services. It is the duty of each team of your organization to treat its domain data as a product and work on it extensively. This practice improves the overall quality of your product or service.

Self-service Infrastructure

The decentralized approach, which is the basis of data mesh, requires all domain teams to have their own infrastructure for data maintenance. This allows teams in your organization to independently build, test, and run their data products according to their specific vision and goals.

Federated Governance

While implementing a data mesh, it is essential to have a consistent format for security protocols and metadata management across all domains. For this purpose, the federated governance approach could be useful as it creates a shared responsibility between the various domain teams and the central data mesh team for secure data management.

Prerequisites for Building a Data Mesh

Implementing a data mesh involves significant technological and organizational changes. To seamlessly enforce a data mesh, consider the following prerequisites:  

  • The senior leadership and authorities should understand and support the importance of data mesh in your enterprise.
  • Conduct workshops and training sessions to familiarize all employees with the benefits of data mesh. This also helps in developing the necessary skills for data mesh implementation.
  • Organize teams in a cross-functional manner, with each unit having experts from data engineering, data science, data governance, and business domains.
  • Maintain thorough documentation of best practices and examples of successful data mesh implementation. It creates a repository for all employees, who can then refer to it to resolve any issue.

Why Use Snowflake for Data Mesh?

Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehouse used extensively for data engineering, management, and governance applications. Some of the reasons that make Snowflake a go-to choice for data mesh architecture are as follows:

Distributed Platform

It is a distributed platform that allows you to create several independent accounts that can reside in the same or different cloud regions. Different domain teams can work in isolation in these separate accounts while still using Snowflake’s functionalities to share data assets seamlessly.

Built-in Data Sharing Features

Snowflake includes advanced data-sharing options through listings; you can share your data using both private and public data-sharing configurations. You can also request access to data assets across other domain units within your organization, enhancing collaboration.

Robust Security Features

Snowflake ensures secure data management through role-based access control, column-level data masking, and row-level access policies. It also supports external tokenization, data lineage, and comprehensive audit capabilities. You can assign metadata tags to track, audit, and restrict objects such as accounts, databases, tables, columns, etc.

Usage Tracking

Snowflake offers detailed telemetry and consumption data metrics, which you can use to track how data products are utilized across different consumer bases.

Snowflake is one of the few platforms that fulfills all four principles required for data mesh implementation and is, therefore, a suitable data mesh solution.

Different Approaches for Building Snowflake Data Mesh

To successfully build a data mesh using Snowflake, you can follow one or more of the below-mentioned approaches:

Account Per Domain

Snowflake Data Mesh: Account Per Domain Approach
Snowflake Data Mesh: Account Per Domain Approach

In a Snowflake data mesh architecture, you can provide each domain team with its own Snowflake account. These accounts can be housed within the same cloud region or in a different cloud region.

Owing to Snowflake’s distributed cloud infrastructure, it facilitates secure data sharing between different domains as needed. Utilizing the account per domain approach while creating a Snowflake data mesh architecture offers the following benefits:

  • It isolates each domain, contributing to the decentralization of data management.
  • Different domains can operate in different cloud regions and cloud platforms.
  • By leveraging the data-sharing capabilities of Snowflake, you can create a multi-cloud data mesh architecture within your enterprise.

Database Per Domain

Snowflake Data Mesh: Database per Domain Approach
Snowflake Data Mesh: Database per Domain Approach

In this approach, each domain team operates within different databases. You can create a single Snowflake account and allocate one or more databases to each domain separately. Snowflake’s self-service capabilities allow you to scale compute clusters according to the specific requirements of each domain.

Some of the advantages of the database per domain approach for a data mesh Snowflake architecture are:

  • You can manage all the databases in a single account.
  • It provides a centralized approach to security and governance administration, ensuring consistent policies across all domains.
  • You can easily access databases of different domains by acquiring appropriate permissions, promoting efficient collaboration and improved performance. 

Schema Per Domain

In the schema per domain approach, each domain can have a different schema within the same database. This setup allows you to scale the compute clusters according to your requirements. The benefits of this approach are:

  • The domains are less isolated, which can facilitate easier collaboration across teams. 
  • This Snowflake data mesh approach is particularly effective if your domains are further segmented into subdomains.
  • For small enterprises, the account per domain and database per domain approaches can be expensive for creating a data mesh in Snowflake. Opting for a schema per domain approach offers a cost-efficient data mesh implementation method. 

Heterogeneous Domains

Snowflake Data Mesh: Heterogeneous Domain
Snowflake Data Mesh: Heterogeneous Domain

In a heterogeneous domains approach, different domains within the data mesh architecture use different technologies and tools. Snowflake serves as an intermediary to provide essential governance and security features. The benefits of using heterogeneous domains include:

  • It enables domain teams to select data management tools of their choice, thereby increasing the efficiency of the product development process. 
  • This method can be more economical, as some tools may be less expensive than using Snowflake for all operations. 
  • Using a heterogeneous approach caters to diverse needs, such as real-time data ingestion or high scalability for domain-specific applications.

However, using heterogeneous domains can have a negative impact on data consistency and security.

Common Challenges for Designing Snowflake Data Mesh

Following are some of the challenges you may encounter while building a data mesh architecture in Snowflake:

  • Maintaining Data Consistency: Due to the decentralized nature of a data mesh, maintaining your data in a consistent and standard format can be challenging. A lack of data consistency can negatively impact the quality and delivery of your data services. 
  • Gap in Skillset: It can be difficult to ensure that each domain team has a skilled data engineer, data scientist, or data governance expert. Also, training your employees or hiring new experts can get expensive. 
  • Collaboration Challenges: Implementing a data mesh can hinder seamless collaboration between various teams in your organization. This is especially valid in an account per domain approach, where each domain operates independently. 
  • Increased Costs: Setting up a data mesh in Snowflake can be expensive. The expenses may vary based on the chosen method: account per domain, database per domain, schema per domain, or heterogenous domain. However, employing Snowflake cost optimization practices can help reduce unnecessary platform usage costs.

Use Cases

The Snowflake data mesh architecture is beneficial for several critical use cases, such as:

  • Data Quality and Governance: Domain teams can focus on various aspects of data management, including data types, accuracy, and security. This can improve the data governance framework and data quality.
  • Handling Complex Data Ecosystems: The decentralized approach in a data mesh simplifies data processing and management. It helps you manage complex data ecosystems that require different data types or formats across various domain units.
  • Data Monetization: Data mesh structures can facilitate the organization of data assets for monetization, making it easier to sell the data to external customers. 

To experience these benefits, schedule a demo with Hevo today!

Role of Hevo Data in Snowflake Data Mesh

Data integration typically involves consolidating data from multiple sources into a centralized repository. On the other hand, a data mesh is a decentralized data management strategy. Although both concepts seem contradictory, they are actually complementary.  

A successful data mesh implementation relies on efficiently building and managing data pipelines, effective transformations, and strict data security measures. To facilitate this, you can use tools like Hevo Data, which offers reliable data integration capabilities and secure transformation features to standardize data for data mesh architecture.

Hevo Data is a no-code ELT platform providing real-time data integration and a cost-effective solution to automate your data pipeline workflows. With over 150 source connectors, you can integrate data from multiple platforms, conduct advanced analysis on your data, and generate actionable insights.

Here are some of the most important features of Hevo Data:

  • Data Transformation: Hevo Data allows you to transform your data for analysis with simple Python-based and drag-and-drop data transformation techniques. It aids in successful data mesh implementation, as each domain team can transform their data based on their specific needs.
  • Automated Schema Mapping: Hevo Data automatically aligns the incoming data to match the destination schema. It also lets you choose between Full and Incremental Mapping, reducing manual schema mapping efforts and improving accuracy. Automated schema mapping reduces the workload of domain teams, allowing them to focus on other important data management tasks.
  • Incremental Data Load: Hevo Data helps optimize bandwidth utilization at both the source and the destination by allowing real-time data transfer of modified data. This feature ensures that you get only new or updated data instead of an entire dataset during subsequent loadings. It provides newly generated or processed data to domain teams to create updated products and contributes to building a better data mesh framework.

With its versatile features, Hevo Data is an integral tool for effectively implementing a data mesh in Snowflake.

Conclusion

Data mesh is crucial for improving data management and accessibility across organizations. This blog provides an overview of Snowflake data mesh architecture and explains the associated challenges and the best practices for overcoming them. It also explores various scenarios where a data mesh would be beneficial.

For effective data mesh implementation in Snowflake, consider using Hevo Data, a robust data integration tool that facilitates the automation of the data pipeline to integrate with Snowflake. It offers an easy-to-use interface and advanced security features to ensure efficient management of your domain data.

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FAQs

  1. What is the difference between data mesh and data fabric? 

Data mesh is the decentralization of data architecture within an enterprise. Data fabric is an integrated data architecture framework that connects data from multiple sources into a single virtual layer that becomes the repository for different units to access data.

  1. Is data mesh obsolete?

No. Data mesh is a relevant part of data management, especially in large-scale organizations with numerous domains dealing with massive amounts of data. However, many organizations, especially smaller ones, may find it unnecessary to invest in data mesh architecture because of its complexity and high implementation costs.

mm
Customer Experience Engineer, Hevo Data

Skand, with 2.5 years of experience, specializes in MySQL, Postgres, and REST APIs at Hevo. He efficiently troubleshoots customer issues, contributes to knowledge base and SOPs, and assists customers in achieving their use cases through Hevo's platform.

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