Data Lake

Data Storage and Sources
Updated on:
June 13, 2024

What is a Data Lake 

A data lake is a centralized data repository that can store massive amounts of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data from diverse sources. Unlike a data warehouse, a data lake can store data in its raw format for analytics and machine learning use cases.

Data lakes build a centralized view of enterprise data while still preserving granularity, unlike traditional enterprise data warehouses which transform data into schemas optimized for business reporting.

What does it do/how does it work?

A data lake ingests bulk data from sources like databases, IoT devices, social media feeds. The data is stored in native formats like JSON, Parquet, Avro along with metadata. This allows running analytics on both raw and transformed data using data processing engines and time-series databases.

Data lakes utilize scalable storage like HDFS along with fast data processing engines like Spark for big data analytics. They help scale analytics by removing overhead of schema-on-write models.

Why is it important? Where is it used?

Data lakes provide a way to cost effectively store massive amounts of enterprise data in various structures and formats. This data can then fuel analytics, machine learning and AI to drive predictive insights, sentiment analysis, recommender systems etc.

Use cases include web analytics based on server logs, IoT analytics combining sensor data, analytics combining transactional data with social data. Data lakes are crucial for data science initiatives across industries.


What are the main components of a data lake?

A data lake is a centralized repository that can store large amounts of structured and unstructured data. Its key components provide capabilities for scalable storage, data ingestion, metadata management, security, and analytics.

  • Distributed file storage system like HDFS for scalable storage of large datasets.
  • Tools like Apache Spark for big data processing and analytics on the data lake.
  • metastore for managing schemas, metadata, data lineage, and definitions.
  • Security framework for authentication, access control and encryption.

When should you use a data lake?

Data lakes can store raw, unprocessed data on a large scale and are well-suited for certain analytics use cases:

  • When you need to store and analyze a diversity of structured, unstructured data formats.
  • For scalable storage and analytics of constantly growing datasets.
  • To retain data at a granular level for machine learning.
  • When you need to run analytics across siloed enterprise data.

What are key data lake challenges?

However, building and managing data lakes comes with inherent complexities:

  • Ingesting and processing variety of streaming and batch data at scale.
  • Managing security, access controls, compliance for data from diverse sources.
  • Maintaining data quality without tight schemas.
  • Query federation and optimization across siloed data.
  • Having to move data around as needs change.
  • Integrating with downstream data and analytics applications.

What are examples of data lake technologies?


Related Entries

Data Warehouse

A data warehouse is a centralized data management system designed to enable business reporting, analytics, and data insights.

Data Orchestrator

A data orchestrator is a middleware tool that facilitates the automation of data flows between diverse systems such as data storage systems (e.g. databases), data processing engines (e.g. analytics engines) and APIs (e.g. SaaS platforms for data enrichment).

Data Processing Engine

A data processing engine is a distributed software system designed for high-performance data transformation, analytics, and machine learning workloads on large volumes of data.


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