Building a Case for a Standardized Data Pipeline for All Your Organizational Data

location_city Bengaluru schedule Aug 31st 03:30 - 03:50 PM place Neptune people 50 Interested

Organizations of all size and domains today face a data explosion problem, driven by a proliferation of data management tools and techniques. A very common scenario is creation of silos of data and data-products which increases the system’s complexity spread across the whole data lifecycle - right from data modeling to storage and processing infrastructure.

High complexity = high system maintenance overheads = sluggish decision making. Another side-effect of this is divergence of the implemented system’s behaviour from high-level business objectives.

In this talk we look at Zeta's experience as a case-study for reducing this complexity by defining and tackling various concerns at well-defined stages so as to prevent a build of complexity.


Outline/Structure of the Experience Report

Context: [3 min]

  • Zeta is a rapidly growing 3-year-old fintech startup with increasing data size, variety and complex decision making scenarios.
  • To exemplify: within a duration of 18 months our transaction volume increased from a few thousand per month to over 10 million; the Elasticsearch cluster used for ad-hoc search and dashboarding increased in size from sub-GB to 7.5 TB; product offering increased from a single product to a bouquet of product offerings to multiple customer categories; changes in the compliance and regulatory environment once every few months required us to revisit our reporting.
  • At an early stage we decided to come up with a roadmap for the next 2 years for its data products.

Problem we were solving: [3 min]

  • In a rapidly growing, evolving organization often there is an explosion in data silos. Leads to multiple sub-optimal data administration, collection, storage, processing subsystems (including specialized workforce) and an inability to do deep, cross-dataset analyses.
  • Need to think of the whole data lifecycle feeding into the final visualization and reduce duplication wherever possible (always a good software engineering practice).

What we did: [12 min]

  • First things first - the Data Model, or what is it that we are managing. Imagined all the present + near-future data that is being generated, then classified them in a small number of categories. Clearly defined the kind of data that we will support, enumerate on the nature of the data and Engineering guarantees that they will need. Eg Events, Entities, Metrics, Logs.
  • Used existing and likely near-future needs, did not want to over-engineer
  • Data Model includes the data’s performance specifications that we need to support. Eg latency, throughput, failure tolerance, scalability, retention policy, concurrency, resource prioritization at a high level.
  • Building on top of this greatly helped us make correct architecture and technology framework decisions. Allowed us to identify several red-flags at design stage itself; eg HDFS as a data storage layer may initially work and give sufficient latency performance for a low-latency fraud-detection scenario but will definitely fail once we hit our specified data scale. Elasticsearch seems great for data aggregation but will break if we expect it to power a high-multi-tenancy dashboard feature given its poor resource isolation behaviour.
  • The specific data storage and transport technology used was agnostic of the data model (think www ISO-OSI stack). Higher abstractions and derivations could be made on top of this simple, standardized data model - eg feature vectors on top of events and entities.

Key wins: [2 min]

  • Simple to understand and communicate data model
  • High correlation between the data model and the implementation infra (= lower exceptions and band-aid fixes)
  • Low cost of maintenance and good value-for-money

Learning Outcome

Participants will get insights into:

  • Aspects of data evolution within an organization - the data lifecycle from data modeling to collection to visualization, as well as changes in the data model and business needs themself over time
  • Complexity challenges that this will lead to
  • Zeta’s experience in designing a data infrastructure to tackle these challenges and its tech and business validation over a 18 tumultuous month long period in the rapidly growing startup’s life.

Target Audience

Anyone interested in data administration, storage and creating data infra products aligned to business objectives.

Prerequisites for Attendees


Some exposure to scenarios and discussions around data complexity and scaling is suggested as it will help participants tune into the problems being discussed here.

schedule Submitted 1 year ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Sarah Masud
    By Sarah Masud  ~  1 year ago
    reply Reply

    Hello Gunjan,

    Thanks for putting up such a detailed and neat proposal. Can you please share links to any previous talks you have given(on this topic or any topic in Data Science)? It will help the committee access your presentation skills. Also do you have any demo slides for the talk that you can share with the committee?

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