Delta Lake: New Hybrid Between Data Lake & Data Warehouse

October 7th, 2021

Before any business can be empowered with data-driven insights, they must develop an effective data architecture which encompasses all the necessary elements to make their data work.

One of the most crucial of these elements is data storage. Put simply, where and how are you going to store the (potentially) millions of records your business ingests?

Traditionally, there are 2 options for data storage: data lake and data warehouse.

While both are capable of housing huge amounts of data, there are distinct differences between them. For example, a data lake only contains raw data which has not been processed. Only once the data is extracted and organised does it have the potential to become valuable information ready for analyses.

On the flip side, a data warehouse is used primarily to store structured data. This is data that is already organised when it is ingested (for example, customer information inputted into a form).

With most businesses seeking to capitalise on the value of all their data – be it from social media, web analytics, videos, images and so on – the question of whether to deploy a data lake or data warehouse can certainly be interesting.

In the current data space, a new solution is rapidly gaining popularity for its ability to provide the best of both worlds. Delta Lake is a software layer that is applied over your data lake to enhance its capability to behave like a data warehouse. This new architecture is called Lakehouse Architecture.

Let’s take a look at a few ways Delta Lake is revolutionising traditional data lakes…

Delta Lake provides ACID transactions

When you perform an action or make a change on data within a data lake, each datum is treated as individual. For example, let’s say you want to copy a large data file. Normally, each piece of data is taken on its own merits – meaning any data that is deemed corrupt or invalid won’t get copied. This can cause a lot of issues for businesses, particularly those that deal with sensitive customer information, as there is a substantial chance of data loss.

ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability) transactions prevent against this by treating any action or change as a single operation.
Data lakes were previously incapable of performing ACID transactions. However, Delta Lake enables ACID transactions in a data lake environment – providing greater assurance of data integrity and reliability.

Delta Lake retains all metadata

Any change to raw data in a data lake can have serious consequences because there is essentially no way to “go back”. What’s changed has changed…for better or for worse.

Delta Lake helps mitigate this risk by retaining all metadata – such as the columns, order and data types within a CSV data file. If someone then tries to make a change which could corrupt the file, Delta Lake will raise an error and prohibit the change. This feature alone could save a business from significant financial or compliance repercussions.

Delta Lake maintains a full audit history of files

In addition to metadata, Delta Lake also keeps previous versions of files and allows you to “time travel” so you can see what data looked like at any point in history.

With this capability previously impossible within a data lake environment, Delta Lake’s technology allows you to achieve much greater transparency over your data at any given time.

Delta Lake integrates with Power BI

Data is essentially useless to staff until it’s delivered to a user-friendly dashboard where it can be analysed.

This is where platforms such as Microsoft’s Power BI provide incredible value, because they make sense of what would otherwise just be a whole heap of numbers.

Delta Lake integrates seamlessly with Power BI directly on top of your data lake, adding to the ease of architecting a powerful data platform which equips your business with everything it needs to make data-driven decisions.

Achieve the best of all worlds

Delta Lake is a great solution for organisations that have lots of unstructured data and want to make the most of it with a data lake – such as media companies with a goal to catalogue all videos and images with metadata, while being able to draw connections between data ingested from other sources like social media.

The key to designing the best data architecture for your business comes down to having a full understanding of your:
• data goals
• existing data integrity
• operating environment
• desired outputs

Our data experts are currently working with several major clients to deploy Delta Lake into their data lake environment.

If you’re struggling to decide between a data lake and data warehouse, or you have a data lake but want to enhance its capability, ask us how we can help you find a solution that will achieve your business goals.

To learn more about data storage or Delta Lake, speak with a data expert from Antares today.