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Integrating Documents from Heterogeneous Sources

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments
Within this part of our ongoing blog series, we would like to introduce a sample data set based upon insurance data. This data set will be used to explain the concepts and patterns expanded upon further in the post. That said, please consider the following situation: an insurance company utilizes two different operational systems, let’s say, a home insurance policy system and a car insurance policy system.

Both systems should be technically integrated, which means if a new customer signs up for a home insurance policy, the customer’s data should be synchronized into the car insurance policy system as well and kept in sync at all times. Thus, when the customer relocates, the new address is updated within both systems.

Though in reality, it often doesn’t go quite as one would expect, as, first of all, both systems are usually not well integrated or simply not integrated at all. Adding to the complexity, in some worst-case scenarios, data is manually copied from one system to the next and updates are not applied to all datasets in a consistent fashion but only to some, leading to inconsistent, contradicting source datasets. The same situation applies often to data sets after mergers and acquisitions are made within an organization.

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Document Processing in MongoDB

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments
In continuing our ongoing series, this piece within the blog series will describe the basics of querying and modifying data in MongoDB with a focus on the basics needed for the Data Vault load as well as query patterns. 

In contrast to the tables used by relational databases, MongoDB uses a JSON-based document data model. Thus, documents are a more natural way to represent data as a single structure with related data embedded as sub-documents and arrays collapses what is otherwise separated into parent-child tables linked by foreign keys in a relational database. You can model data in any way that your application demands – from rich, hierarchical documents through to flat, table-like structures, simple key-value pairs, text, geospatial data, and the nodes as well as edges used in graph processing.

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An Enterprise Document Warehouse Architecture

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments
A common requirement for enterprise data warehousing is to provide an analytical model for information delivery, for example in a dashboard or reporting solution. One challenge in this scenario is that the required target model, often a dimensional star or snowflake schema or just a denormalized flat-and-wide entity, doesn’t match the source data structure. Instead the end-user of the analytical data will directly or indirectly define the target structure according to the information requirements.

Another challenge is the data itself, regardless of its structure.
In many, if not most, cases, the source data doesn’t meet the information requirements of the user regarding its content. In many cases, the data needs cleansing and transformation before it can be presented to the user.

Instead of just loading the data into a MongoDB collection and wrangling it until it fits the needs of the end user, the Data Vault 2.0 architecture proposes an approach that allows data as well as business rules, which are used for data cleansing in addition to transformation, to be re-used by many users. To achieve this, it is made up of a multi-layered architecture that contains the following layers:

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Processing Enterprise Data with Documents in MongoDB

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments
Today’s enterprise organizations receive and process data from a variety of sources, including silos generated by web as well as mobile applications, social media, artificial intelligence solutions in addition to IoT sensors. That said, the efficient processing of this data at high volume in an enterprise setting is still a challenge for many organizations. 

Typical challenges include issues such as the integration of mainframe data with real-time IoT messages and hierarchical documents.
One of such issues being that enterprise data is not clean and might have contradicting characteristics as well as interpretations. This poses a challenge for many processes such as when integrating customers from multiple source systems.

Though, data cleansing could be considered as a solution to this problem. However, what if different data cleansing rules should be applied to the incoming data set? For example, because the basic assumption for “a single version of the truth” doesn’t exist in most enterprises. While one department might have a clear understanding of how the incoming data should be cleansed, another department, or an external party, might have another understanding. 

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DATA VAULT 2.0’s INVENTOR OFFERS UNPRECEDENTED ON-SITE ACCESS

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments

To all those that have been a part of the Scalefree journey up until this point,

We’d first and foremost like to thank you for all the contributions you have made in helping us build Scalefree into the firm it is today. All of your contributions and business have allowed us to create a success story beyond what was first imagined and for that we offer our gratitude.

That said, a recent development here at Scalefree has presented the company with the opportunity to offer unprecedented, on-site access to the man that helped make all of this possible, the inventor of Data Vault 2.0, Dan Linstedt.

Though before diving into the unique opportunity that presents you, a little about how we got here.

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Data Vault Use Cases Beyond Classical Reporting: Part 1

By Scalefree Newsletter 2 Comments

To put it simply, an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) collects data from your company’s internal as well as external data sources, to be used for simple reporting and dashboarding purposes. Often, some analytical transformations are applied to that data as to create the reports and dashboards in a way that is both more useful and valuable. That said, there exist additional valuable use cases which are often missed by organizations when building a data warehouse. The truth being, EDWs can access untapped potential beyond simply reporting statistics of the past. To enable these opportunities, Data Vault brings a high grade of flexibility and scalability to make this possible in an agile manner.

Data Vault Use Cases

To begin, the data warehouse is often used to collect data as well as preprocess the information for reporting and dashboarding purposes only. When only utilizing this single aspect of an EDW, users are missing opportunities to take advantage of their data by limiting the EDW to such basic use cases.

A whole variety of use cases can be realized by using the data warehouse, e.g. to optimize and automate operational processes, predict the future, push data back to operational systems as a new input or to trigger events outside the data warehouse, to simply explore but a few new opportunities available.

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What to consider for naming conventions in Data Warehousing – Part 1

By Scalefree Newsletter 5 Comments

An initial decision of critical importance within Data Vault development relates to the definition of naming conventions for database objects. As part of the development standardization, these conventions are mandatory as to maintain a well-structured and consistent Data Vault model. It is important to note that proper naming conventions boost usability of the data warehouse, not only for solution developers but also for power users within data exploration.

Throughout this article, we will present the most vital considerations within our standard book, the process of defining naming conventions.

Naming convention documentation

It is one aspect to simply define naming conventions utilized within the development of your data warehouse, but it is completely another to establish consistency as to create defined naming conventions that are to become standards. That said, it is a good practice to document a guideline for naming Data Warehouse objects. To that end, the next sections will discuss several considerations to take account of when defining the naming conventions for a data warehouse solution.  Read More

Bridge Tables 101: Why they are useful

By Scalefree Newsletter 2 Comments

Within Data Vault there are special entities which leverage the query performance on the way out of the Data Vault. These entities are placed between the Data Vault and the Information Delivery Layer and are necessary for instances in which many joins and aggregations on the Raw Data Vault are executed what cause performance issues. This often happens when designing the virtualized fact tables in the information and data marts. Thus, to produce the required granularity in the fact tables without increasing the query time, Bridge tables come into play. Bridge tables belong to the Business Vault and have the purpose of improving performance, similar in manner to the PIT table which was discussed in a prior newsletter.

As a means to achieve its goals, the bridge table materializes the grain shift that is often required within the information delivery process. Though, before we dig deeper into the specifics of using a bridge table for performance tuning, it is important to first define granularities within a data warehouse.

Grain Definitions in Data Warehousing

The grain within a dimensional model is the level of detail available of each table. Thus, the grain of a fact table is defined by the number of related dimensions. Basically, there are three different types of granularities for fact entities within a dimensional model. Read More

Alternative to the Driving Key Implementation in Data Vault 2.0

By Scalefree Newsletter 19 Comments

Back in 2017 we introduced the link structure with an example of a Data Vault model in the banking industry. We showed how the model looks like when a link represents either a relationship or a transaction between two business objects. A link can also connect more than two hubs. Furthermore, there is a special case when a part of the hub references stored in a link can change without describing a different relation. This has a great impact on the link satellites. What is the alternative to the Driving Key implementation in Data Vault 2.0?

The Driving Key

A relation or transaction is often identified by a combination of business keys in one source system. In Data Vault 2.0 this is modelled as a normal link connecting multiple hubs each containing a business key. A link contains also its own hash key, which is calculated over the combination of all parents business keys. So when the link connects four hubs and one business key changes, the new record will show a new link hash key. There is a problem when four business keys describe the relation, but only three of them identify it unique. We can not identify the business object by using only the hash key of the link. The problem is not a modeling error, but we have to identify the correct record in the related satellite when query the data. In Data Vault 2.0 this is called a driving key. It is a consistent key in the relationship and often the primary keys in the source system. Read More

How to implement insert only in Data Vault 2.0?

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments

Skilled modeling is important to harness the full potential of Data Vault 2.0. To get the most out of the system due to scalability and performance, it also has to be built on an architecture which is completely insert only. On the way into the Data Vault, all update operations can be eliminated and loading processes simplified.

THE COMMON IMPLEMENTATION

In the common loading patterns, there are two important technical timestamps in Data Vault 2.0. The first is the load date timestamp (LDTS). This timestamp does not represent a business date that comes from the source system. Instead, it provides the information about when the data was first loaded into the data warehouse, usually the staging area. Read More

How to use Point in Time Tables (PIT) in the Insurance Industry?

By Scalefree Newsletter 6 Comments

A problem that occurs when querying the data out of the Raw Data Vault happens when there are multiple satellites on a hub or a link:

Figure 1: Data Vault model including PIT (logical)
In the above example, there are multiple satellites on the hub Customer and link included in the diagram. This is a very common situation for data warehouse solutions because they integrate data from multiple source systems. However, this situation increases the complexity when querying the data out of the Raw Data Vault. The problem arises because the changes to the business objects stored in the source systems don’t happen at the same time. Instead, a business object, such as a customer (an assured person), is updated in one of the many source systems at a given time, then updated in another system at another time, etc. Note that the PIT table is already attached to the hub, as indicated by the ribbon. Read More

Managed Self-Service BI – Success in spite of stringent regulation

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments
The latest story to find itself added to the growing number of successful implementations of Scalefree’s services, and Data Vault 2.0 as a whole, centers around a sector known for its strict regulatory bodies in addition to high volume of data that demands the utmost in terms of privacy and security.

As the events that unfolded during the various financial crises at the start of the century left governments the world over seeking to impose stricter regulations for the financial sector. Banks within the sector were faced with a new task as they sought to continue operating with expansion in mind while still falling well within defined standards. Read More

The latest innovations of Data Vault 2.0

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments

Focus on trends: Data Lake and no-sql, dwh architecture, self-service bi, modeling and gdpr

In the past, we wrote about topics we were confronted with when we consult our clients or just recognized widely occurring discussions in the web.

All these topics were already covered in Data Vault 2.0 and most of them moved into a higher focus within the last months. Coming with the trends in the private sector, NoSQL databases are now playing an important role for storing data fast from different source systems. This brings new opportunities to analyze the data, but also new challenges, i.e. how to query fast from those “semi”- and “unstructured” data, e.g. including Massive Parallel Processing (MPP). Furthermore, there is an abundance of tools to store, transport, transform and analyze the data, what often results in time and cost-intensive researching.  The knowledge about “Schema on Write” and “Schema on Read” (and their differences) became very important to build a Data “Warehouse”. A Schema has been and is still mandatory for Business Analysts when they have to tie the data to business objects for analytical reasons. Storing your data in NoSQL platforms only (let’s call it a “Data Lake”) is a good approach to capture all your company’s data, but it became much more difficult for Business User to get the data out from those platforms. A good and recommended approach is to have both, a Data Lake AND a Data Warehouse combined in a Hybrid Architecture.

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How to scale in a disciplined agile manner?

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments

Looking beyond Scrum and learn how to increase the value in Data Vault 2.0 projects

Earlier this year we talked about Managed Self-Service BI to explain how business users can take a benefit from this approach in Data Vault 2.0. Now we want to show you how to get there from a project management perspective, even in large companies where the standard Scrum approach often not works with the accorded deployment/release regulations and other approaches like the Disciplined Agile framework are the better fit.

Agile transformation is hard because cultural change is hard. It’s not one problem that needs to be solved, but a series of hundreds of decisions affecting lots of people over a long period of time that affects relationships, processes, and even the state of mind of those working within the change.

There are two fundamental visions about what it means to scale agile: Tailoring agile strategies to address the scaling challenges – such as geographic distribution, regulatory compliance, and large team size – faced by development teams and adopting agility across your organization. Both visions are important, but if you can’t successfully perform the former then there is little hope that you’ll be successful at the latter.

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Still struggling with GDPR?

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments

The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a law by the European Union (EU) and became effective on May 25, 2018. This new regulation is designed to put a high level of protection to personal data of European citizens, what means that companies around the world have to establish transparency and ownership to the individuals’ data and need to get a clear declaration of consent from them to save and process their personal data. Though laws from countries outside the EU (especially the USA) tend to favor business over consumer, GDPR affects all companies over the world who have personal data from EU-citizens in their database.

WHAT IS NEW WITH GDPR?

To be careful with personal data is nothing new, especially not in the EU. The key change of collecting and processing personal data is that the data is now completely under control of the owner, who can force the companies to delete or anonymize their data or to request copies of all owners personal data stored in the system. Personal data or Privately Identifiable Information (PII) means data, an individual can be identified with, e.g. name, phone number or email address. Read More

Pledge 1% – Scalefree unites with Frankfurter Ring

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments

We often discuss relevant Big Data and associated Data Vault topics like “Hybrid Architecture”, “Data Lake” and “Hadoop” as we try to share our knowledge. Though this time around, we’d like to take some time to shift focus and talk about our company culture and commitment to our community.

THE CULTURE OF GIVING BACK

Scalefree built itself upon the idea that success is only a true success when shared with others and that idea has shaped every decision within the organization since we’ve first started. So it was rather easy to finally put that idea into a concrete commitment when presented with the growing movement, Pledge 1%, and it’s focus on building better bridges with those in which we share a community. Read More

Data Warehouse and Data Lake – Do we still need a Data Warehouse?

By Scalefree Newsletter No Comments

“Big Data”, “Data Lake”, “Data Swamp”, “Hybrid Architecture”, “NoSQL”, “Hadoop” … terms you are confronted with very often these days when you are dealing with data. Furthermore, the question comes up if you really need a data warehouse nowadays when you deal with a high variety and volume of data. We want to talk about what a data lake is, if we need a data warehouse when using NoSQL platforms like Hadoop, and how it is combined with Data Vault.

WHAT IS A DATA LAKE?

There is a proper definition from Tamara Dull (SAS): “A data lake is a storage repository that holds a vast amount of raw data in its native format, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. The data structure and requirements are not defined until the data is needed.” 1 Read More

How to combine Managed Self-Service BI with Data Vault 2.0?

By Scalefree Newsletter One Comment

Last month we talked about a hybrid architecture in Data Vault 2.0, where we explain how to combine structured and unstructured data with a hybrid architecture. To follow up on this topic, we now want to explain how your business users (especially power users) can take a benefit from it with the managed Self-Service Business Intelligence (mSSBI) approach in Data Vault 2.0.

ABOUT SELF-SERVICE BI

Self-service BI allows end-users to completely circumvent IT due to this unresponsiveness of IT. In this approach, business users are left on their own with the whole process of sourcing the data from operational systems, integration and consolidation of the raw data. There are many problems with this self-service approach without the involvement of IT:
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