A Comprehensive Data Governance Solution for Cloud-based Data Lakehouses
Data Governance

Databricks Unity Catalog: A Comprehensive Data Governance Solution for Cloud-based Data Lakehouses

By: Anand Agrawal

Publish Date: June 8, 2023

A robust data governance solution helps manage all data and AI assets by providing a centralized platform for organization, discovery, and collaboration, improving efficiency and ensuring compliance. The unified data governance solution provided by Databricks, Unity Catalog, helps manage files, tables, ML models, and dashboards – in a data lakehouse on any public cloud.

How does it work?

Unity Catalog is compatible with existing data catalogs, repositories, and governance solutions. It can be tightly integrated with the storage, computing, analytics, security, and AI solutions natively offered by cloud providers, including Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud. This flexibility allows businesses to advance their cloud computing investments and build a future-ready data governance framework without high migration costs. The critical aspects of its functionality are:

Centralized management and administration of all data assets

With a governance model based on open standard ANSI SQL, Unity Catalog makes it simpler to manage files, tables, dashboards, and ML models on any cloud platform. It allows organizations to define their data access policies once at the account level and enforce them across all workspaces and workloads.

Unity Catalog also brings centralized fine-grained auditing capabilities. It enables a company to capture the audit logs of all actions involving data and therefore helps to meet audit and compliance requirements.

Fine-tuned management of access controls

Organizations have standard SQL functions to clearly define the access controls concerning rows and columns of data. A metastore is the top-level repository of objects in the Unity Catalog. It contains metadata around data assets (tables and views) and the permissions controlling access. The organization needs to build a metastore for each region it operates. Initially, new users have no access to data in a metastore. A metastore admin or the owner of the catalog or schema that contains the object can grant access to others.

Secure and cohesive data search experience

Databricks Unity Catalog makes it easy to find, understand and cite references to relevant data from any part of a data estate. It offers an integrated search experience to data analysts, data scientists, and data engineers. To maintain the desired level of privacy and security, the data search results via this data governance solution are attuned to different users’ pre-defined access privileges.

Optimized query performance at any scale

Unity Catalog improves query performance with low-latency metadata serving and table auto-tuning. It allows users to execute queries speedily at any scale. With asynchronous automatic data compaction, the file sizes are optimized, and input/output latency is minimized in the background.

Real-time data lineage with automation

Automated and real-time data lineage gives organizations a comprehensive view of how data flows within their lakehouse. This visibility is available across Python, SQL, Scala, and R workloads, allowing for quick data quality checks, the impact analysis of data changes, and easy debugging of errors in data pipelines. With lineage across columns, tables, notebooks, dashboards, and workflows, tasks such as these become simpler and more streamlined.

Unity Catalog’s lineage graphs are aware of the privileges set and keep the access rights of users restricted as per the defined rules. The data lineage may also be retrieved via REST API for integrations with other catalogs.

Delta Sharing to securely share data across organizations

Developed by Databricks, Delta Sharing is an open protocol to share data securely across entities irrespective of their computing platforms. It is a part of the Unity Catalog data governance platform, allowing the user organization – called the data provider – with an external enterprise or individual – the data recipient.

The existing data can be shared in Delta Lake and Apache Parquet formats to any computing platform. Data recipients do not necessarily have to be on the same cloud platform – that the data provider uses – or on any other cloud service. Delta Sharing allows enterprises to share live data without copying or replicating it to another system.

Thanks to native integrations with Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Spark, pandas, and Java, recipients can consume the shared data directly using their chosen tools. The data-providing organization can also centrally manage, govern, track, and audit shared data usage on a single platform.

The takeaway

Enterprises today face new data privacy mandates and compliance norms. Meanwhile, they must rely on more data analytics to optimize their performance, enhance customer experience, and rationalize business decision-making. Effective data governance is critical to ensure data is trustworthy, consistent, and not misused. Databricks Unity Catalog is a supportive solution for the same. It centralizes data management and AI, has built-in tools for data search, enhances query performance with low-latency metadata serving and auto-tuned tables, and provides automated lineage for all workloads. Most importantly, it integrates smoothly with an organization’s existing data repository and management tools.

YASH supports the deployment of Unity Catalog for Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud. We help you extract the real business value from your data warehouses and lakes and simplify data analytics with AI workloads.

To learn more about how we design trust-based data governance models leveraging data lineage and curation, connect with us at https://www.yash.com/contact-us/

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