The Rise of DataOps – Atlan







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

Let’s face it — conventional knowledge administration doesn’t work. At the moment, 75% of executives don’t belief their very own knowledge, 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 knowledge simply retains rising in dimension and complexity, we’re struggling to maintain it underneath management. To make issues worse, knowledge groups and their members, instruments, infrastructure, and use circumstances have gotten extra numerous on the similar time. The result’s knowledge 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 downside. Only a week aside, Forrester and Gartner just lately made main shifts towards recognizing the significance of DataOps.

On June 23 of this 12 months, Forrester launched the most recent model of its Wave report about knowledge 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 facet of the curve to its “Peak of Inflated Expectations”.

Google Trends data for "DataOps" searches since 2015
Google Traits knowledge on world searches for “DataOps” since 2015. The y-axis reveals “curiosity over time”, or a normalized model of search curiosity. 100 represents peak recognition 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 knowledge groups all over the world. I’ve personally seen DataOps go from an unknown to essential, and a few firms have even constructed whole methods, capabilities, and even roles round DataOps. Whereas the outcomes range, I’ve seen unimaginable enhancements in knowledge groups’ agility, velocity, and outcomes.

On this weblog, I’ll break down every thing it is best to learn about DataOps — what it’s, why it is best to care about it, the place it got here from, and the best way 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 truth, it’s not something you should purchase, and anybody making an attempt to inform you in any other case is making an attempt to trick you.

As a substitute, DataOps is a mindset or a tradition — a method to assist knowledge groups and folks work collectively higher.

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

DataOps is a collaborative knowledge administration observe centered on enhancing the communication, integration and automation of knowledge flows between knowledge managers and knowledge shoppers throughout a company.


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


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

Andy Palmer

As you may inform, there’s no normal definition for DataOps. Nonetheless, you’ll see that everybody talks about DataOps by way of being past tech or instruments. As a substitute, they give attention to phrases like communication, collaboration, integration, expertise, and cooperation.

In our thoughts, DataOps is actually about bringing right this moment’s more and more numerous knowledge groups collectively and serving to them work throughout equally numerous instruments and processes. Its rules and processes assist groups drive higher knowledge administration, save time, and cut back wasted effort.

Why must you care about DataOps?

The quick reply: It helps you tame the information chaos that each knowledge particular person is aware of all too properly.

Now for the longer, extra private reply…

At Atlan, we began as an information workforce ourselves, fixing social good issues with large-scale knowledge initiatives. The initiatives have been actually cool — we set to work with organizations just like the UN and Gates Basis on large-scale initiatives affecting thousands and thousands of individuals.

However internally, life was chaos. We handled each fireplace drill that would probably exist, resulting in lengthy chains of irritating telephone calls and hours spent making an attempt to determine what went fallacious. 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 downside, did a bunch of analysis, and came upon the thought of “knowledge governance”. We have been an agile, fast-paced workforce, and conventional knowledge governance didn’t seem to be it match us. So we got here collectively, reframed our issues as “How May We” questions, and began an inner mission to resolve these questions with new tooling and practices. By bringing inspiration from numerous 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 proper tooling and tradition can do for an information workforce. The chaos decreased, the identical large knowledge initiatives turned exponentially sooner and simpler, and the late-night calls turned splendidly uncommon. And consequently, we have been capable of accomplish way more with far much less. Our favourite instance: we constructed India’s nationwide knowledge platform, executed by an eight-member workforce 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 workforce work collectively, construct belief, and collaborate higher.

That’s in the end what DataOps does, and why it’s all the fad right this moment — it helps knowledge groups cease losing time on the infinite interpersonal and technical velocity bumps that stand between them and the work they like to do. And in right this moment’s financial system, something that saves time is priceless.

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

The 4 elementary concepts behind DataOps

Some folks wish to say that knowledge groups are similar to software program groups, and so they attempt to apply software program rules on to knowledge work. However the actuality is that they couldn’t be extra completely different.

In software program, you’ve got some degree of management over the code you’re employed with. In spite of everything, a human someplace is writing it. However in an information workforce, you usually can’t management your knowledge, as a result of it comes from numerous supply methods in quite a lot of always altering codecs. If something, an information workforce is extra like a producing workforce, remodeling a heap of unruly uncooked materials right into a completed product. Or maybe an information workforce is extra like a product workforce, taking that product to all kinds of inner and exterior finish shoppers.

The best way we like to consider DataOps is, how can we take the perfect learnings from different groups and apply them to assist knowledge 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 elementary 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 an entire — was getting again on its toes. For automobile producers in all places, workers have been overworked, orders delayed, prices excessive, and clients sad.

To resolve 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 best high quality good with the bottom value within the shortest time? One in all its key concepts is to remove the eight sorts 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 thought of Worth Stream Mapping. Identical to you’d map a producing line with the TPS, you map out a enterprise exercise in excruciating element, establish waste, and optimize the method to keep up high quality whereas eliminating waste. If part of the method doesn’t add worth to the shopper, it’s waste — and all waste needs to be eradicated.

What does a Worth Stream Mapping truly seem like? Let’s begin with an instance in the true 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 clients order a cup of espresso. Step one is to map out every thing that occurs when a buyer takes after 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 fallacious and the way lengthy the step can take — for instance, a buyer having hassle 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 knowledge groups? Knowledge groups are much like manufacturing groups. They each work with uncooked materials (i.e. supply knowledge) till it turns into a product (i.e. the “knowledge product”) and reaches clients (i.e. knowledge shoppers or finish customers).

So if a provide chain has its personal worth streams, what would knowledge worth streams seem like? How can we apply these similar rules to a Knowledge Worth Stream Mapping? And the way can we optimize them to remove waste and make knowledge workforce extra efficients?

Product pondering

Key thought: Ask what job your product is actually conducting with the Jobs To Be Completed framework.

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

The best approach to perceive this concept is thru the Milkshake Concept, a narrative from Clayton Christensen. A quick meals restaurant needed to extend the gross sales of their milkshakes, so that they tried a whole lot of completely different modifications, equivalent to making them extra chocolatey, chewier, and cheaper than rivals. Nonetheless, nothing labored and gross sales stayed the identical.

Subsequent, they despatched folks to face within the restaurant for hours, accumulating knowledge on clients who purchased milkshakes. This led them to appreciate that just about half of their milkshakes have been offered to single clients earlier than 8 am. However why? After they got here again the subsequent morning and talked to those folks, they discovered that these folks had an extended, boring drive to work and wanted a breakfast that they may eat within the automobile whereas driving. Bagels have been too dry, doughnuts too messy, bananas too fast to eat… however a milkshake was good, since they take some time to drink and hold folks full all morning.

As soon as they realized that, for these clients, a milkshake’s objective or “job” was to supply 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 folks 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 knowledge groups? Within the knowledge world, there are two major sorts of clients: “inner” knowledge workforce members who have to work extra successfully with knowledge, and “exterior” knowledge shoppers from the bigger group who use merchandise created by the information workforce.

We will use the JTBD framework to know these clients’ jobs. For instance, an analyst’s JTBD is perhaps to supply the analytics and insights for these product prioritization choices. Then, when you create a JTBD, you may create a listing 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: Improve 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 based mostly on the thought of making an MVP, or minimal viable product.

Right here’s an instance: when you needed to construct a automobile, the place must you begin? You could possibly 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 could have modified, and chances are you’ll find yourself creating one thing that folks don’t truly like.

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

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 motorbike slightly 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 assemble suggestions from customers. When you give attention to discovering the minimal resolution, slightly than creating the best or dream resolution, you may be taught what customers truly need after 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 knowledge groups? Many knowledge groups work in a silo from the remainder of the group. When they’re assigned a mission, they’ll usually work for months on an answer and roll it out to the corporate solely to be taught that their resolution was fallacious. Perhaps the issue assertion they got was incorrect, or they didn’t have the context they wanted to design the proper resolution, or possibly the group’s wants modified whereas they have been constructing their resolution.

How can knowledge groups use the MVP strategy 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 knowledge groups and enhance how they work with finish knowledge shoppers. It will possibly assist knowledge groups discover the proper knowledge, carry knowledge fashions into manufacturing and launch knowledge merchandise sooner, 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 pondering on the time was that software program moved in a linear movement — the event workforce’s job is so as to add new options, then the operations workforce’s job is to maintain the options and software program secure. Nonetheless, this speak launched a brand new thought: each dev and ops’ job is to allow the enterprise.

DevOps turned the linear growth movement right into a round, interconnected one which breaks down silos between these two groups. It helps groups work collectively throughout two numerous capabilities by way of 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 knowledge groups? Within the knowledge world, it’s simple for knowledge engineers and analysts to operate independently — e.g. engineers handle knowledge pipelines, whereas analysts construct fashions — and blame one another when issues inevitably break. As a substitute of options, this simply results in bickering and resentment. As a substitute, it’s necessary to carry them collectively underneath a typical aim — making the enterprise extra data-driven.

For instance, your knowledge scientists could rely on both engineering or IT now to deploy their fashions—from exploratory knowledge 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

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

How do you truly implement DataOps?

Each different area right this moment has a centered enablement operate. For instance, SalesOps and Gross sales Enablement give attention to enhancing productiveness, ramp time, and success for a gross sales workforce. DevOps and Developer Productiveness Engineering groups are centered on enhancing collaboration between software program groups and productiveness for builders.

Why don’t now we have an analogous operate for knowledge groups? DataOps is the reply.

Establish the top shoppers

Relatively than executing knowledge initiatives, the DataOps workforce or operate helps the remainder of the group obtain worth from knowledge. It focuses on creating the proper instruments, processes, and tradition to assist different folks achieve success at their work.

Key consumers of DataOps
The important thing shoppers of DataOps

Create a devoted DataOps operate

A DataOps technique is handiest when it has a devoted workforce or operate behind it. There are two key personas on this operate:

  • DataOps Enablement Lead: They perceive knowledge and customers, and are nice at cross-team collaboration and bringing folks collectively. DataOps Enablement Leads usually 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 workforce. Their key power is sound information of knowledge and the way it flows between methods/groups, appearing as each advisors and executors on automation. They’re usually former Builders, Knowledge Architects, Knowledge Engineers, and Analytics Engineers.
How WeWork structured their DataOps function around 2 personas
How WeWork structured their DataOps operate round two key personas

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

At the start of an organization’s DataOps journey, DataOps leaders can use the JBTD framework to establish frequent knowledge “jobs” or duties, often known as Knowledge Worth Streams. Then, with Lean, they’ll do a Worth Stream Mapping train to establish and remove wasted effort and time in these processes.

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

Learnings from the 4 movements behind DataOps
What knowledge groups can be taught from the 4 actions behind DataOps

Making a devoted DataOps technique and performance is way from simple. However when you do it proper, DataOps has the potential to resolve a few of right this moment’s largest knowledge challenges, save time and assets throughout the group, and improve the worth you get from knowledge.

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

To get future DataOps blogs in your inbox, join my e-newsletter: Metadata Weekly

Header photograph by Chris Liverani on Unsplash


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