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Where Change Is Welcome

Scenario 3: The Overnight Spike

By Posted in Use Cases April 1, 2020

Dramatic Demand Spike Requires Major Operational Changes

You’ve seen a spike in demand due to the pandemic. Your organization is stretched to the extreme while making major operational changes, and ensuring the safety of everyone involved– your employees, your customers and your partners. Here are four things to keep in mind with respect to your data practice as you push your delivery capabilities to the max.

This is the final article in our series: 3 Scenarios for Adjusting Your Data Practice to Business During the Pandemic

Data holds the key to the new products and solutions your constituents clamor for.

Of course, you need data to make better decisions, and you need it faster than ever given the massive ramp up your organization has undertaken. Data is critical to enabling governments and healthcare organizations to track pandemic statistics and plan their response. Data can reveal shifts in demand patterns so you can figure out where to deliver your products and how to package them (such as the shift in demand for flour from restaurants and bakeries to grocery stores serving home bakers). It can help analyze candidate pools to let you recruit more effectively if you’ve got to radically ramp up staffing. I recently spoke with the team at DisrupTV about this. 

For many organizations, data and data science will drive new products or solutions innovation. The most obvious example is all the epidemiological and genomic data feeding the research underway in the race to develop COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. But there are many other realms where data science, AI or machine learning can drive new or enhanced product offerings. For example, edtech companies can analyze how new categories of teachers and students are utilizing their platforms, and put in software enhancements to deliver online learning better suited for these new audiences, which appeared overnight.

The StreamSets DataOps Platform is designed for the modern practice of delivering data rapidly and continuously with confidence in a world of constant change— DataOps. It’s all about going fast, and keeping everything going no matter what changes come at you. The pace of change is at a level never seen before, and designing for change with a DataOps mindset can be the thing that sets apart those who will rise to the demands in these times, and those who will fall apart.

Reduce friction in adopting the latest-and-greatest data infrastructure.

A Harvard Business Review article “How to survive a recession and thrive afterward” recommends investing in technology during a downturn, even if that may sound counter-intuitive. To support new demands from the business, you may need to rapidly adopt new data platforms that can provide the horsepower or functionality you now need. You may realize that your legacy systems simply can’t scale, and you absolutely need to shift to a cloud platform that can seamlessly scale and burst up to meet demand spikes. Or you may find that you need to adopt a Spark engine, such as Databricks, to do the massive data processing demanded by your data scientists, or your AI and machine learning algorithms. The trick is how to adopt new platforms quickly while keeping the existing infrastructure going– you’re building the airplane while in flight.

StreamSets supports all the key data platforms, and the StreamSets DataOps platform is fundamentally architected to enable portability across them. So if your goal is to extend the capabilities of your existing infrastructure investments, StreamSets makes it easy to get new data sources into those platforms and transformed to be fit-for-purpose. If you’re moving to cloud data platforms, StreamSets can accelerate the migration, and ensure you keep on-premises and cloud platforms in sync.

Boost productivity, reduce ramp-up time.

To support major growth in new demand, first, your existing data team has to do more than incrementally improve productivity to keep the lights on and meet new business demands. The right data integration tooling can boost productivity of your data team by an order of magnitude. The ultimate goal is self-service, having data integration tools so easy-to-use that the developers, data engineers and data scientists who are closest to business are able to access the data themselves. Second, tooling that abstracts away the complexities of coding languages and implementation details can make it easier to 

hire people from a broader applicant pool. You don’t have time to find “ninja” experts in languages like Scala or PySpark, or deep experts in the details of a platform like Azure Synapse. 

StreamSets’ easy-to-use, visual tools greatly increase the productivity of your developers and data engineers, regardless of which types of data pipelines they are building. Prebuilt support for a breadth of data patterns, from streaming to ETL to CDC, and data platforms, from Oracle to Hadoop to Databricks enables a modern data integration practice designed for today’s data workloads and platforms. By abstracting away the complexity of platforms like Spark, your team members can easily ramp up in new areas without having to be Scala or PySpark coding ninjas.

Go fast without breaking things.

You’ve got to go fast. Really, really fast. Adopting new platforms or tools. Building new pipelines. Adding new data sources. Hiring new people. But with so many things changing so fast, and no time to go through traditional change management processes, you need to architect in resiliency to change so that the lights don’t go out and data isn’t lost in the midst of all the hustle. Data drift detection and handling, and having full operational visibility to how data moves in real time, is the key to preventing data loss and data flow breakages as teams feverishly build new data pipelines or make changes to data platforms.

StreamSets DataOps Platform enables you to build fully instrumented pipelines that give you real-time operational visibility into how your data is flowing. Our unique drift detection and handling capabilities minimize the risk of outages or data loss. That way you can move fast and not worry about things breaking.

How are you adapting to The Overnight Spike? Share your story with us: #amazingdatastories.

Final Thoughts

However things are playing out for you, you’re probably facing unanticipated challenges– both personal and professional. We can’t fix the macroeconomic environment, but we can all apply data to make better decisions to see our companies, teams and employees through these times in the best way possible. And data will be key to eventually discovering the treatments and vaccines needed to end the pandemic. We do hope that we can help you, the data leaders, experts and practitioners, step up to meet the demands of your organizations, your teams, and society. Many StreamSetters are already helping state and federal governments access and analyze COVID-19 data to help plan their response, and others are volunteering their time as engineers and data scientists to support COVID-19 research.

Take care and let us know if we can help you in any way.

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