Guide: Data Management

Data Catalog

Catalogs functioned as a reliable method for organizing, storing, and finding individual data long before humanity created the internet. Before Data Catalogs, there were card catalogs in libraries, paper catalogs for all kinds of commerce, and plenty of other uses.

While there are still a plethora of catalogs available both online and offline, implementing a Data Catalog into your business is one of the best ways to keep your data easily accessible, organized, and safe.

In this article, you will learn what a Data Catalog is capable of, why it gets used, and the benefits of implementing a Data Catalog into your online business model.

Check out this overview of the different aspects of Data Catalogs that will get discussed:

What is a Data Catalog?

Simply, a Data Catalog is an organized inventory of data assets available to the company. A data catalog helps entities within a business come to a new understanding, using its wealth of unique resources that can work together within the system.

More technically, though, a Data Catalog is a collection of metadata combined with data management and search tools. This metadata collection, data management, and search tools work in unison to help data analysts and other users find the data they seek.

Here are the main functions of a Data Catalog:

  • It collects metadata
  • It serves as an inventory for your categorized data
  • It provides information to evaluate data for intended use

Data Catalog vs. Data Inventory

While the terms Data Catalog and Data Inventory are similar, they should not get used interchangeably.

Here is a breakdown of these two terms:

Data Catalog
Data Inventory
  • System of organizing data.
  • Accommodates large amounts of data and makes it manageable.
  • Provides direct access to data.
  • Incorporates raw data, data management, and search tools.
  • A function of the data catalog.
  • The collection of data is available within a data catalog.
  • A record of data assets.

Data Inventory Explained

While a Data Catalog is the whole system, which incorporates different informational tools, including the data, Data Inventory is the actual collection of data. It is an important function of the Data Catalog, but it is not the same as the data catalog.

What is Data Mapping?

It is important to state that Data Mapping or a Data Map is not the same as Data Inventory, even though they commonly get interchanged. Data Mapping is, as the name suggests, the mapping of matching fields from one database.

Data Mapping is an essential function of a Data Catalog. It heavily relies on Data Inventory, but it is a function for searching and integrating different aspects of the Data Catalog. It is not the data itself or a particular element of the Data Catalog.

When Should You Have a Data Catalog?

Even before you open your business, you can start collecting data. Data is information whether that data is target market research, plans, development, or geographical location to complement your upcoming physical location. You garner information throughout starting a business and gather more information each day you are open.

So, when it comes to when you should have a Data Catalog, the sooner, the better. You do not need to fill a Data Lake to benefit from building a Data Catalog. The sooner you can organize the information you have, the better off you’ll be.

Not only will you get a jump on creating a comprehensive and useful Data Catalog, starting this process early will help you weed out irrelevant information without fear of getting rid of anything you might need.

However, being realistic, most organizations really require a data catalog when they have a substantial amount of data, as well as a substantial amount of data stakeholders, especially data consumers.

For more information:

Benefits of Having A Data Catalog

Organization is always beneficial, especially when running a company. Yet, having a Data Catalog offers benefits far beyond simply having a system of organization.

Here are the benefits of having such a useful system for businesses across every industry:

Support Data Governance Certifications

Data Governance Certifications provide a wealth of training courses for data scientists to meet clients’ continuously evolving compliance needs. Whether this is for your business or your clients, such support is essential in the finance, economic, and insurance services industries.

When you have a well-rounded and maintained Data Catalog, you will always have the information you need for these certifications right at your fingertips. You will know the exact location of information and the last person and date of access. 

It’s always stressful dealing with certifications, especially when crucial to your business. Fortunately, if you have a data catalog you don’t need to worry about finding the information, which is often half the battle.

Maps Out Data Lineage

Sometimes, before you can advance with information, you need to figure out the origin of the information. When you have a Data Catalog, mapping out the data lineage is no big deal. You can easily find the information you seek, whether it concerns past, present, or future developments.

To learn more about data lineage, read our guide to data lineage.

Creates a Developing Business Glossary

Different users can sometimes use different terms to explain the same function. This use of multiple terms can become confusing when different people input data. It is impossible to completely weed out this issue due to the massive amount of information gathered and sorted.

Fortunately, the system creates a developing business glossary when you use a Data Catalog. That way, you can simply look up any terms you do not recognize. The terms are defined and usually linked to similar terms through the business glossary, to ensure commonality of terms.

Data Quality

A common issue for any data set is quality, especially when your data is garnered from multiple avenues.

Yet, when you use a Data Catalog, there are two main fail-safes that ward against poor data quality infiltrating your system:

1. User Logs: Each time a person accesses the information, the Data Catalog logs the user’s identification. Through this log, you know when the person entered the system, what they did while in the system and when they left.

From this, you can ascertain plenty of clues if something in the dataset doesn’t seem to add up.

While knowing who entered the bad data doesn’t always solve the problem right away, it does clarify a big part of the mystery. Therefore, you can get to the bottom of the issue quicker.

2. Quality Warnings: Since the Data Catalog is so precise in the taxonomy of your business data, the system will flag data that it finds suspicious or possibly bad quality information. Once data is flagged, you or your team can review it and decide for yourself whether this information is quality information or not.

To learn more about data quality, read our data quality guide.

Challenges In Data Catalogs

As stated, there are many benefits to implementing a Data Catalog into your big data management initiatives. Although, there are also some challenges that you should be apprised of before you dive into your Data Catalog.

Gathering the Initial Information

Earlier, this article discussed that starting your Data Catalog early is the best option for optimal use benefits. There’s no time like the present, right? But, what if that is not an option?

It can be difficult to get it off the ground if you begin your Data Catalog after amassing a large data brochure without much direction. It can become a disaster if you do not have the right expertise or at least a qualified IT staff to set up your Data Catalog.

The good news, though, is that Satori can help you set up your Data Catalog and get you started off running quickly and efficiently, regardless of the volume of data you need to incorporate.

Keeping Systems Up to Date

After getting your Data Catalog set up, some businesses have trouble keeping their system up to date. The main reason for this struggle is that data and its stakeholders keep changing. It’s important to maintain the Data Catalog, so you don’t end up with outdated information.

Keeping outdated information will completely dismantle the entire system, rendering it useless. Satori continuously searches and finds new data so that your data catalogs are always up to date. 

Data Catalogs With Satori

Ultimately, Data Catalogs are a great way to organize a log of Big Data and implement helpful tools to help you and your company progress.

If you have data, but you don’t have a system that can efficiently optimize that data, you’re just paying for a mass of digital space. However, suppose you have a working Data Catalog set up. In that case, you have a wealth of easily accessible information and tools that you can work to create an unlimited amount of opportunities.

Satori, The Data Security Platform, provides a security layer for data access, whether it’s databases, data warehouses, or data lakes. Satori can integrate with data catalogs, and make them robust with continuous data classification and sensitive data discovery. 

Learn more: 

Last updated on

January 31, 2022

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