DiscoverData Engineering Podcast
Data Engineering Podcast

Data Engineering Podcast

Author: Tobias Macey

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This show goes behind the scenes for the tools, techniques, and difficulties associated with the discipline of data engineering. Databases, workflows, automation, and data manipulation are just some of the topics that you will find here.
91 Episodes
The current trend in data management is to centralize the responsibilities of storing and curating the organization's information to a data engineering team. This organizational pattern is reinforced by the architectural pattern of data lakes as a solution for managing storage and access. In this episode Zhamak Dehghani shares an alternative approach in the form of a data mesh. Rather than connecting all of your data flows to one destination, empower your individual business units to create data products that can be consumed by other teams. This was an interesting exploration of a different way to think about the relationship between how your data is produced, how it is used, and how to build a technical platform that supports the organizational needs of your business.
Successful machine learning and artificial intelligence projects require large volumes of data that is properly labelled. The challenge is that most data is not clean and well annotated, requiring a scalable data labeling process. Ideally this process can be done using the tools and systems that already power your analytics, rather than sending data into a black box. In this episode Mark Sears, CEO of CloudFactory, explains how he and his team built a platform that provides valuable service to businesses and meaningful work to developing nations. He shares the lessons learned in the early years of growing the business, the strategies that have allowed them to scale and train their workforce, and the benefits of working within their customer's existing platforms. He also shares some valuable insights into the current state of the art for machine learning in the real world.
The market for data warehouse platforms is large and varied, with options for every use case. ClickHouse is an open source, column-oriented database engine built for interactive analytics with linear scalability. In this episode Robert Hodges and Alexander Zaitsev explain how it is architected to provide these features, the various unique capabilities that it provides, and how to run it in production. It was interesting to learn about some of the custom data types and performance optimizations that are included.
Anomaly detection is a capability that is useful in a variety of problem domains, including finance, internet of things, and systems monitoring. Scaling the volume of events that can be processed in real-time can be challenging, so Paul Brebner from Instaclustr set out to see how far he could push Kafka and Cassandra for this use case. In this interview he explains the system design that he tested, his findings for how these tools were able to work together, and how they behaved at different orders of scale. It was an interesting conversation about how he stress tested the Instaclustr managed service for benchmarking an application that has real-world utility.
Building a data platform that works equally well for data engineering and data science is a task that requires familiarity with the needs of both roles. Data engineering platforms have a strong focus on stateful execution and tasks that are strictly ordered based on dependency graphs. Data science platforms provide an environment that is conducive to rapid experimentation and iteration, with data flowing directly between stages. Jeremiah Lowin has gained experience in both styles of working, leading him to be frustrated with all of the available tools. In this episode he explains his motivation for creating a new workflow engine that marries the needs of data engineers and data scientists, how it helps to smooth the handoffs between teams working on data projects, and how the design lets you focus on what you care about while it handles the failure cases for you. It is exciting to see a new generation of workflow engine that is learning from the benefits and failures of previous tools for processing your data pipelines.
Building and maintaining a data lake is a choose your own adventure of tools, services, and evolving best practices. The flexibility and freedom that data lakes provide allows for generating significant value, but it can also lead to anti-patterns and inconsistent quality in your analytics. Delta Lake is an open source, opinionated framework built on top of Spark for interacting with and maintaining data lake platforms that incorporates the lessons learned at DataBricks from countless customer use cases. In this episode Michael Armbrust, the lead architect of Delta Lake, explains how the project is designed, how you can use it for building a maintainable data lake, and some useful patterns for progressively refining the data in your lake. This conversation was useful for getting a better idea of the challenges that exist in large scale data analytics, and the current state of the tradeoffs between data lakes and data warehouses in the cloud.
Building a machine learning model can be difficult, but that is only half of the battle. Having a perfect model is only useful if you are able to get it into production. In this episode Stepan Pushkarev, founder of Hydrosphere, explains why deploying and maintaining machine learning projects in production is different from regular software projects and the challenges that they bring. He also describes the Hydrosphere platform, and how the different components work together to manage the full lifecycle of model deployment and retraining. This was a useful conversation to get a better understanding of the unique difficulties that exist for machine learning projects.
Building an ETL pipeline can be a significant undertaking, and sometimes it needs to be rebuilt when a better option becomes available. In this episode Aaron Gibralter, director of engineering at Greenhouse, joins Raghu Murthy, founder and CEO of DataCoral, to discuss the journey that he and his team took from an in-house ETL pipeline built out of open source components onto a paid service. He explains how their original implementation was built, why they decided to migrate to a paid service, and how they made that transition. He also discusses how the abstractions provided by DataCoral allows his data scientists to remain productive without requiring dedicated data engineers. If you are either considering how to build a data pipeline or debating whether to migrate your existing ETL to a service this is definitely worth listening to for some perspective.
Some problems in data are well defined and benefit from a ready-made set of tools. For everything else, there's Pachyderm, the platform for data science that is built to scale. In this episode Joe Doliner, CEO and co-founder, explains how Pachyderm started as an attempt to make data provenance easier to track, how the platform is architected and used today, and examples of how the underlying principles manifest in the workflows of data engineers and data scientists as they collaborate on data projects. In addition to all of that he also shares his thoughts on their recent round of fund-raising and where the future will take them. If you are looking for a set of tools for building your data science workflows then Pachyderm is a solid choice, featuring data versioning, first class tracking of data lineage, and language agnostic data pipelines.
In recent years the traditional approach to building data warehouses has shifted from transforming records before loading, to transforming them afterwards. As a result, the tooling for those transformations needs to be reimagined. The data build tool (dbt) is designed to bring battle tested engineering practices to your analytics pipelines. By providing an opinionated set of best practices it simplifies collaboration and boosts confidence in your data teams. In this episode Drew Banin, creator of dbt, explains how it got started, how it is designed, and how you can start using it today to create reliable and well-tested reports in your favorite data warehouse.
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