A data expert discusses the three different types of data lakes and how data lakes can be used with data sets not considered 'big data.'
We recently wrote an article debunking common myths about data lake architectures, data lake definitions, and data lake analytics. It is called "What is a Data Lake_? Get A Leg Up Avoiding The Biggest Myths." _In that article, we framed the current conversation about data lakes and how they fit within enterprise data strategies. This topic has historically been confusing and opaque for those wanting to get value from a data lake due to conflicting advice from consultants and vendors.
One area that can be particularly confusing is the perception that lakes are only for "big data." If you spend any time reading materials on lakes, you would think there is only one type and it would look like the Capsian Sea (it’s a lake despite “sea” in the name). People describe data lakes as massive, all-encompassing entities, designed to hold all knowledge. The good news is that lakes are not just for "big data" and you have more opportunities than ever to have them be part of your data stack.
Just as they do in nature, lakes come in all different shapes and sizes. Each has a natural state, often reflecting ecosystems of data, just like those in nature reflect ecosystems of fish, birds, or other organisms.
Unfortunately, the “big data” angle gives the impression that lakes are only for “Caspian” scale data endeavors. This certainly makes the use of data lakes intimidating. As a result, describing things in such massive terms makes the concept of a lake inaccessible to those who can benefit from them on a smaller scale. Here are a few data lake examples;
We recently worked with a customer to create a "Domain" type lake. This lake would hold Adobe event data to an AWS to support an enterprise Oracle Cloud environment. Why AWS to Oracle? It was an efficient and cost-effective data consumption pattern for the customer Oracle BI environment, especially considering the agility and economics of using an AWS lake and Athena as the on-demand query service for lake content.
By design, all types of lakes should embrace an abstraction that minimizes risk and affords you greater flexibility. Also, they should be structured for easy consumption independent of their size. This ensures a lake used by a data scientist or business user or analyst all have an environment structured for easy data consumption.
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