We have the answers to your questions! - Don't miss our next open house about the data universe!

GCP Dataflow: What is it? What’s it for?

dataflow gcp

DevOps and data experts benefit from a wide range of services to help them successfully carry out their projects on Google Cloud Platform. GCP Dataflow is one of them. So what is it? What are its features? Why use this tool? What are its advantages? Find out in this article.

What is GCP Dataflow ?

Launched in 2015 as a beta service, GCP Dataflow is a fully managed service that simplifies data processing for both stream and batch data. In conjunction with the creation of Dataflow, Google also developed the Apache Software Foundation to access GCP’s data services. As a result, Dataflow enables the execution of pipelines using the open-source Apache Beam programming model.

What are the features of the Dataflow service?

Continuous data analysis

GCP Dataflow’s Streaming Analytics organizes your data, ensuring its relevance and availability. With its processing power, it enables you to acquire, process, and analyze large datasets in real-time. For Data Scientists and Data Analysts, this analytics tool is a significant time-saver, especially for accessing insights from data streams.

Artificial Intelligence in real time

Google Cloud Platform’s DataFlow service uses Artificial Intelligence to detect anomalies, identify patterns, personalize customer journeys, and perform predictive analytics. Regardless of the AI application within an organization, it enables teams to respond rapidly, even when multiple events occur simultaneously.

Automatic vertical/horizontal scaling

GCP Dataflow offers two types of scaling:

  1. Vertical Autoscaling: This protects tasks against insufficient memory issues, enhancing pipeline efficiency.

  2. Horizontal Autoscaling: This determines the appropriate number of developers or analysts needed to complete a task automatically. The number of workers can vary during a process based on task intensity.

In any case, the goal is to adjust the computing capacity of teams based on their usage. To optimize performance and resources, you can also combine vertical and horizontal autoscaling.

Additionally, Dataflow Prime enables you to create specific resource pools, which helps prevent resource wastage.

Intelligent diagnostics

These diagnostics include several features:

  1. Data Pipeline Management: Google adapts the Dataflow pipeline based on the level of service.

  2. Dataflow Task Visualization: Through charts, it’s possible to quickly identify bottlenecks.

  3. Automated Recommendations: In addition to identifying performance or availability issues, GCP Dataflow helps teams resolve them.

Real-time data capture

Data scientists and data analysts can synchronize and replicate information from heterogeneous data sources. For example, replicating data from Google Cloud Storage to BigQuery or PostgreSQL. All of this is done while ensuring data reliability and minimal latency, allowing for continuous data feeding into analyses.

Why use GCP Dataflow?

With all these features, Google Dataflow can be applied in various scenarios. Here are the main ones:



E-commerce companies can establish a GCP Dataflow streaming pipeline to transform their Pub/Sub data before transmitting it to BigQuery and Cloud Bigtable.

This approach enables, for instance, the retrieval of product views over a specific time frame (across various scales), the enhancement of inventory management, and the analysis of purchasing behaviors.

Fraud detection

While the use of credit cards is essential for online payments, it also elevates the risk of fraud. Such fraudulent activities can result in significant losses for organizations. GCP Dataflow can be effectively employed for fraud detection. To achieve this, it is advisable to construct a pipeline that categorizes the validity of credit card transactions. Subsequently, real-time data predictions can be made to identify any potential fraudulent risks.

Alert monitoring and configuration

You can set up monitoring for your services, such as customer service, sales, marketing, information systems, industrial processes, and more. To monitor these various elements, all that’s needed is to configure custom metrics that represent your service level objectives.

Subsequently, you can schedule alerts when these metrics reach predefined thresholds. To accomplish this, utilize the Cloud Dataflow runner in conjunction with Stackdriver alerts.

What are the advantages of Dataflow GCP?

Google Dataflow has garnered significant success among Big Data professionals, and this can be attributed to its numerous advantages.

Saving time

With GCP Dataflow, developers are relieved of the burden of performance tracking and resource management. The Dataflow service takes care of these aspects. This tool gathers the necessary data and optimizes the infrastructure, allowing developers to concentrate on writing data processing code.

Similarly, Data Analysts and Data Scientists save valuable time when analyzing data in real-time and batch processing.

Cost reduction

This is made possible by:

1. The serverless approach, which eliminates operational overhead from data engineering workloads.
2. The FlexRS feature utilizes advanced scheduling techniques to reduce batch processing costs.
3. Scalability optimizes resources, thus reducing unnecessary expenses.


Dataflow can be implemented in three programming languages: Java, Python, and Go. Moreover, you can seamlessly integrate it with Cloud ML Engine, Google BigQuery, and Pub/Sub.


GCP Dataflow operates on the principle of associative reduction. This means that developers don’t have to wait for the first step to complete before starting a new one.

Furthermore, this service is horizontally scalable, meaning it automatically expands during the workflow execution.

To fully benefit from GCP Dataflow’s advantages, it’s advisable to receive training in this tool. Various training options are available through Datascientest for this purpose.

Key facts

  • GCP Dataflow simplifies both stream and batch data processing. With its versatile features, this service can be applied to a wide range of applications, from e-commerce to fraud detection and industrial process optimization.

  • Google Dataflow empowers organizations to conduct swift data stream analysis, streamline operational processes, and reduce costs.

You are not available?

Leave us your e-mail, so that we can send you your new articles when they are published!
icon newsletter


Get monthly insider insights from experts directly in your mailbox