Data Mesh is one of the hottest topics in the data space. In fact, according to a recent BARC Survey, 54% of companies are planning to implement or are implementing the Data Mesh in their companies. Implementing Data Mesh architecture in your enterprise means incorporating a domain-centric approach to data and treating data as a product. Data Product Management is therefore crucial in the Data Mesh transformation process. Eckerson Group Survey 2024 found that 70% of organizations have or are in the process of implementing Data Products.
However, many companies are struggling to manage, maintain, and get value out of their data products. Indeed, successful Data Product Management requires establishing the right people, processes, and technologies. One of those essential technologies is a data catalog.
In this article, discover how a data catalog empowers data product management in data-driven companies.
Quick definition of a Data Product
In a previous article on Data Products, we detailed the definition and characteristics of Data Products. At Zeenea, we define a Data Product as being:
“A set of value-driven data assets specifically designed and managed to be consumed quickly and securely while ensuring the highest level of quality, availability, and compliance with regulations and internal policies.”
Let’s get a refresher on the characteristics of a Data Product. According to Zhamak Dehghani, the Data Mesh guru, to deliver the best user experience for data consumers, data products need to have the following basic qualities:
- Trustworthy and truthful
- Self-describing semantics and syntax
- Inter-operable and governed by global standards
- Secure and governed by a global access control
How can you ensure your sets of data meet the criteria for becoming a functional and value-driven Data Product? This is where a data catalog comes in.
What exactly is a data catalog?
Many definitions exist of what a data catalog is. At Zeenea, we define it as “A detailed inventory of all data assets in an organization and their metadata, designed to help data professionals quickly find the most appropriate data for any analytical business purpose.” Basically, a data catalog’s goal is to create a comprehensive library of all company data assets, including their origins, definitions, and relations to other data. And like a catalog for books in a library, data catalogs make it easy to search, find, and discover data.
Therefore, in an ecosystem where volumes of data are multiplying and changing by the second, it is crucial to implement a data cataloging solution – a data catalog answers the who, what, when, where, and why of your data.
But, how does this relate to data products? As mentioned in our previous paragraph, data products have fundamental characteristics that they must meet to be considered data products. Most importantly, they must be understandable, accessible, and made available for consumer use. Therefore, a data catalog is the perfect solution for creating and maintaining data products.
A data catalog makes data products discoverable
A data catalog collects, indexes, and updates data and metadata from all data sources into a unique repository. Via an intuitive search bar, data catalogs make it simple to find data products by typing simple keywords.
In Zeenea, our data catalog enables data users to not only find their data products but to fully discover their context, including their origin and transformations over time, their owners, and most importantly, to which other assets it is linked for a 360° data discovery. Zeenea was designed so users can always discover their data products, even if they don’t know what they are searching for. Indeed, our platform offers unique and personalized exploratory paths so users can search and find the information they need in just a few clicks.
A data catalog makes data products addressable
Once a data consumer has found the data product, they must be able to access it or request access to it in a simple, easy, and efficient way. Although a data catalog doesn’t play a direct role in addressability, it certainly can facilitate and automate part of the work. An automated Data Catalog solution plugs into policy enforcement solutions, accelerating data access (if the user has the appropriate permissions).
A data catalog makes data products trustworthy
At Zeenea, we strongly believe that a data catalog is not a data quality tool. However, our catalog solution automatically retrieves and updates quality indicators from third-party data quality management systems. With Zeenea, users can view their quality metrics via a user-friendly graph and instantly identify the quality checks that were performed, their quantity, and whether they passed, failed, or issued warnings. In addition, our Lineage capabilities provide statistical information on the data and reconstruct the lineage of the data product, making it easy to understand the origin and the various transformations over time. These features combined increase trust in data and ensure data users are always working with accurate data products.
A data catalog makes data products understandable
One of the most significant roles of a data catalog is to provide all the context necessary to understand the data. By efficiently documenting data, with both technical and business documentation, data consumers can easily comprehend the nature of their data and draw conclusions from their analyses. In Zeenea, Data Stewards can easily create documentation templates for their Data Products and thoroughly document them, including detailed descriptions, associating Glossary Items, relationships with other Data Products, and more. By delivering a structured and transparent view of your data, Zeenea’s data catalog promotes the autonomous use of Data Products by data consumers in the organization.
A data catalog enables data product interoperability
With comprehensive documentation, a data catalog facilitates data product integration across various systems and platforms. It provides a clear view of data product dependencies and relationships between different technologies, ensuring the sharing of standards across the organization. In addition, a data catalog maintains a unified metadata repository, containing standardized definitions, formats, and semantics for various data assets. In Zeenea, our platform is built on powerful knowledge graph technology that automatically identifies, classifies, and tracks data products based on contextual factors, mapping data assets to meet the standards defined at the enterprise level.
A data catalog enables data product security
A data catalog typically includes robust access control mechanisms that allow organizations to define and manage user permissions. This ensures that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive metadata, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or breaches. In Zeenea, you create a secure data catalog, where only the right people can act on a data product’s documentation.
Start managing Data Products in Zeenea
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In the meantime, check out our Data Product Management feature note