Data Lineage Concepts, Examples & Tools

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Data lineage can be a complex and confusing topic. It’s hard to know where your data comes from, how it’s been changed, and what the impact of those changes has been. Data lineage tools make tracing data easy and straightforward. By understanding your data’s history you can more effectively troubleshoot issues, optimize processes, and make better decisions. In this blog, you will learn about data lineage concepts, examples, and tools. As a data professional, you must have a strong understanding of data lineage.

What is Data Lineage and why is it important?

Data lineage is a term used in data management to describe the path that data takes from its initial creation or acquisition until it is finally deleted or archived. Data lineage provides a “map” of the data, showing its origins and destinations. In simpler words, it is the history of data. It shows where data comes from, how it is changed, and what the impact of those changes has been. This information can be useful for troubleshooting data issues, understanding how data is being used, and assessing the risks associated with data.

There are two types of data lineage:

  • Physical Data Lineage: This type of lineage traces the physical movement of data from one location to another. It includes information about storage devices, network locations, and file formats.
  • Logical Data Lineage: This type of lineage traces the logical transformation of data from one format to another. It includes information about the algorithms and processes that are used to transform the data.

Both physical and logical data lineage are important for understanding the history of data. However, logical data lineage is often more difficult to track because it can involve many different processes and transformations. Data lineage tools can help you track both physical and logical data lineage.

There are several benefits to tracking data lineage:

  • Tracing data can help you identify and correct errors in your data.
  • Data lineage can help you understand how your data is being used and who is using it. This can help you assess the risks associated with your data.
  • Data lineage can help you troubleshoot problems with your data.
  • Data lineage can help you comply with regulations such as GDPR.

Who is responsible for managing data lineage?

Data lineage is a complex topic, and it can be challenging to track all of the data in your organization. In most cases, responsibility for managing data lineage falls to the data governance team. The data governance team is responsible for ensuring that data is managed effectively and efficiently, and that it meets the organization’s standards and requirements. The data governance team typically uses data lineage tools to help them track data and manage its lifecycle.

If you don’t have a data governance team, you may need to create one. Typically, the data governance team should be responsible for:

  • Developing and enforcing organizational standards for data management
  • Tracking and managing the life cycle of all data
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations such as GDPR
  • Managing data quality and integrity
  • Auditing data processes

In order to effectively carry out these responsibilities, the data governance team needs experts who can help them understand and manage the complex data landscape. That’s where data lineage experts come in. Data lineage experts are skilled in understanding and tracing data across systems. They can help the data governance team track and manage data effectively, ensuring that it meets the organization’s standards and requirements.

If you’re looking to hire data lineage experts, there are several things to keep in mind. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure the experts have a good understanding of your organization’s data landscape
  • Make sure the experts are skilled in tracing data across systems
  • Make sure the experts are up to date on the latest data management technologies
  • Make sure the experts are familiar with your organization’s compliance requirements, such as GDPR

If you can find a data management company that offers data lineage services, that’s a bonus. By following these tips, you can ensure that you hire the right experts to help your Data Governance team manage your organization’s data effectively.

Data Lineage Examples

One real-world example of data lineage is the case of British Airways and their data breach. In September 2018, British Airways announced that they had been the victim of a data breach that affected 380,000 customers. The hackers were able to access the personal information of customers who made bookings on the British Airways website from August 21 to September 5. This information included names, addresses, email addresses, and credit card details. British Airways was able to trace the data breach back to a malicious script that was inserted into their website. They were able to identify the script because it created unusual activity in their logs. Once they identified the script, they were able to remove it and prevent any further damage. The data breach could have been much worse if British Airways hadn’t been able to trace it back to the source. By tracing the data back to the script, they were able to identify and fix the issue quickly. This prevented any further damage and ensured that customers’ personal information was not compromised.

Another example of data lineage is the case of Target and their data breach. In December 2013, Target announced that they had been the victim of a data breach that affected 40 million customers. The hackers were able to access the personal information of customers who made credit or debit card purchases at Target stores from November 27 to December 15. This information included names, addresses, email addresses, and credit card numbers. Target was able to trace the data breach back to a malicious program that was installed on their point-of-sale systems. They were able to identify the program because it created unusual activity in their logs. Once they identified the program, they were able to remove it and prevent any further damage. The data breach could have been much worse if Target hadn’t been able to trace it back to the source. By tracing the data back to the program, they were able to identify and fix the issue quickly. This prevented any further damage and ensured that customers’ personal information was not compromised.

These are just a couple of examples of how data lineage can be used in a real-world situation. Data lineage can be used in many different ways, depending on the needs of the organization. It is an important tool for managing data and ensuring that it meets organizational standards and requirements.

Data Lineage Tools

There are many different tools that can be used for data lineage. Some of the most popular tools are:

  • IBM InfoSphere DataStage
  • Microsoft SQL Server Data Tools
  • Oracle Data Integrator
  • SAS Data Management

Each of these tools has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose the tool that best suits your organization’s needs. It’s also important to make sure that the tool is up to date on the latest data management technologies. This ensures that you’re getting the most out of your investment in the tool.

Another important thing to consider is compliance requirements. Make sure the tool you choose is compliant with regulations such as GDPR. This will help ensure that your organization stays compliant with the latest regulations.

Conclusion

Data lineage is the process of tracing data from its source to its destination. Data lineage experts are skilled in understanding and tracing data across systems. They can help the data governance team track and manage data effectively, ensuring that it meets the organization’s standards and requirements. There are many different tools that can be used for data lineage. Some of the most popular tools are: IBM InfoSphere DataStage, Microsoft SQL Server Data Tools, Oracle Data Integrator, SAS Data Management. Each of these tools has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose the tool that best suits your organization’s needs. It’s also important to make sure that the tool is up to date on the latest data management technologies. This ensures that you’re getting the most out of your investment in the tool. Another important thing to consider is compliance requirements. Make sure the tool you choose is compliant with regulations such as GDPR. This will help ensure that your organization stays compliant with the latest regulations. Data lineage is a critical component of data management. By understanding and tracing data, organizations can ensure that their data meets all organizational standards and requirements. In case you want to learn more, please drop a message and I will be happy to help.

Have a great day!

Ajitesh Kumar
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Ajitesh Kumar

I have been recently working in the area of Data analytics including Data Science and Machine Learning / Deep Learning. I am also passionate about different technologies including programming languages such as Java/JEE, Javascript, Python, R, Julia, etc, and technologies such as Blockchain, mobile computing, cloud-native technologies, application security, cloud computing platforms, big data, etc. For latest updates and blogs, follow us on Twitter. I would love to connect with you on Linkedin. Check out my latest book titled as First Principles Thinking: Building winning products using first principles thinking
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