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Data Vault: what is it? What are the benefits?

- Reading Time: 4 minutes
Data Vault: what is it? What are the benefits?

The Data Vault is an innovative approach to data management, offering a flexible and scalable method for modeling. Find out everything you need to know, and how to master the different forms of data storage!

Big Data is now an integral part of every business. In all industries, data plays a central role in decision-making and competitiveness.

Consequently, the modeling and effective management of these resources have become crucial issues. And in a constantly changing environment, these tasks can prove complex.

In order to meet these challenges, a new approach to data storage invented in the early 2000s by IT professional Dan Linstedt is now enjoying a real boom: the Data Vault.

What is a Data Vault?

Compared with traditional data modeling methods such as data warehouses or data lakes, the Data Vault stands out for its adaptability to the changing needs of modern businesses.

As a result, it has established itself as a promising alternative, adopted by a growing number of organizations worldwide.

This approach is based on three essential components: Hubs, Links and Satellites. These entities interact to form a scalable, highly traceable data model.

Hubs play a key role as central repositories, storing the unique identification keys of business entities.

They are designed to represent the basic elements of the information system, such as customers, products or employees.

Thanks to their minimal nature, they provide a solid foundation for the integration of new data sources. And all this while guaranteeing the integrity and quality of the information.

For their part, Links are responsible for linking Hubs and creating relationships between entities. They capture the complex connections between entities, and thus contribute to a better understanding of how the information system works.

This approach greatly simplifies the management of evolving relationships over time. It also facilitates the addition of new connections without altering the overall structure of the model.

Finally, Satellites contain the attributes of entities stored in Hubs, as well as contextual, historical and temporal information. This is why the Data Vault ensures complete data traceability.

It makes it possible to go back in time and analyze the evolution of information through changes and updates.

By combining these three elements in an iterative way, the Data Vault offers a highly flexible approach to data modeling, enabling companies to adapt quickly to market developments, new data sources and ever-changing analytical needs.

What are the benefits for companies?

Several key principles make the Data Vault a unique and powerful approach to data management. Firstly, its modular design enables it to adapt to changing business needs.

It allows new data sources to be easily added without calling into question the overall structure of the model.

This avoids regression problems and reduces the time needed to integrate new information. As a result, organizations undergoing digital transformation benefit from the scalability they need.

Another strong point: the Data Vault allows an iterative approach to data modeling. You can build your vault progressively, starting with Hubs, Satellites and the most essential Links, then gradually enrich the model with new entities and relationships.

Such an approach enables companies to rapidly deploy functional analytical solutions, and continually improve them in line with feedback and new business needs.

As a result, data management and analysis projects can be implemented more quickly. Information crucial to decision-making is available more quickly.

It also provides greater tolerance to change, and simplifies the integration of information despite the increase in internal and external data sources.

What’s more, at a time when data traceability has become a legal and commercial requirement, the Data Vault also stands out for its rigorous approach to historization.

Every modification, addition or deletion of data is stored in the Satellites, enabling precise reconstruction of past events. This is particularly useful for audits, retrospective analyses and regulatory reporting.

The Data Vault also offers sophisticated mechanisms for managing identification keys, avoiding potential conflicts and ensuring data integrity.

Hubs act as single points of entry for entities, and keys are carefully managed to ensure uniqueness and stability. This considerably simplifies the management of relationships and aggregations between entities, as well as model maintenance.

How do you implement a Data Vault?

Implementing a Data Vault project requires a methodical approach and collaborative efforts between business teams, data architects and IT professionals. It takes place in several stages.

The first step is to understand the company’s business needs, and to identify the objectives for implementing the Data Vault.

This involves close collaboration with stakeholders to define key entities, relationships, performance indicators, and traceability and auditability requirements.

Based on these requirements, data architects design the Data Vault model, identifying the appropriate Hubs, Links and Satellites. This phase requires careful consideration of the model’s structure.

The next step is to select the most appropriate technologies and tools. A rigorous selection of database management platforms, ETL tools (extraction, transformation and loading) and data integration solutions is essential.

Once the data model has been designed and the tools selected, the initial data loading stage can begin. This involves extracting data from various sources, transforming it to meet Vault requirements, and loading it into Hubs, Links and Satellites.

Now that the Data Vault model is in place, data integration becomes a continuous, iterative process. New sources can be added with the creation of new Hubs, Links and Satellites. Updates can also be made to the model.

To enable users to interact with data in a meaningful way, it is also essential to develop access and visualization layers: reports, dashboards, analysis tools…

Of course, successful implementation of the Data Vault depends on users’ ability to exploit this new asset. Training sessions and clear communication on its benefits are therefore essential.

Conclusion: the Data Vault, an ideal data storage method for Big Data

At a time when companies are faced with massive data volumes and ever-increasing analytical demands, the Data Vault and its modular design provide the necessary flexibility.

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You’ll learn about databases, extraction, transformation and analysis techniques, Machine Learning, DataViz, Python and Business Intelligence.

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Now you know all about the Data Vault. For more information on the same topic, read our article on the Data Warehouse and our article on the Data Lake!

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