Alation 2022.3: Alation Anywhere Connecting the Modern Data Stack

By Jason Lim

Published on August 30, 2022

A city landscape with multiple skyscrappers and an orange sky backdrop with interconnected lines all around.

With the launch of our latest product release, 2022.3, we are introducing Alation Anywhere, extending data intelligence directly to the tools in your modern data stack, starting with Tableau. We continue to make deep investments in governance, including new capabilities in the Stewardship Workbench, a core part of the Data Governance App. Additionally, we are personalizing the catalog, starting with the homepage. This ensures each user gets the most relevant experience, tailored to their unique role and responsibilities.

Centralization of metadata

A decade ago, metadata was everywhere. Yet it was siloed and locked up in different databases and tools. Consequently, useful metadata was unfindable and unusable. We had data but no data intelligence and, as a result, insights remained hidden or hard to come by.

Then Alation came along. We pioneered the world’s first machine learning data catalog, centralizing technical, operational, business and behavioral metadata into one place. By centralizing metadata, we could finally analyze it comprehensively (with help from machine learning). This universe of metadata represents a treasure trove of connected information. With it, the data catalog enables consumers to find, understand, and govern their data confidently, with intelligence about data illuminating the best path forward.

Visibility into a decentralized modern data stack

Centralization can power innovation. But the reality is that we live in a decentralized world — where people naturally pick and choose the tools that work best for their needs. As a result, today’s enterprise contends with an exploding number of tools and technologies. These range from data sources, including SaaS applications like Salesforce; ELT like Fivetran; cloud data warehouses like Snowflake; and data science and BI tools like Tableau. This expansive map of tools constitutes today’s modern data stack.

In a complex modern data stack, the need for intuitive search grows essential. By centralizing and analyzing metadata, Alation Data Catalog makes information assets findable and understandable — no matter where they live in the modern data stack.

Catalog users can find relevant data, understand its context, and trust in its value. They can identify experts, ask questions and learn how to use that data appropriately. Not only do they enjoy enormous productivity gains, they get confidence and peace of mind, as well.

Yet in reality, people live and work with different tools. They would benefit from data intelligence, wherever they happen to be. To achieve this, we needed to activate the metadata and deliver data intelligence to people in the tools they use daily. This would reduce friction and accelerate understanding with useful data context.

Activating metadata with Alation Anywhere

With Alation Anywhere launching in beta, we will meet people where they are, helping to deliver context and trustworthiness of data, from and across the modern data stack, starting with Tableau.

Demographic Segment

With this integration, Alation descriptions and data quality flags of warnings and deprecations will propagate to Tableau. This gives people understanding and confidence as they explore and use Tableau, in their natural workflow. Now Tableau reports can be easily defined and determined to be certified or not. By extending information from the catalog, we eliminate the “swivel seat” syndrome of jumping between tools, ultimately reducing friction and speeding up time to insight.

Alation Anywhere ensures metadata remains active by sending pertinent information to the tools where metadata is most easily accessed and used. (After all, metadata activation is key to enabling an organization’s data fabric.) For stewards curating data in Alation, they can feel satisfied their work is reaching and helping more people.

More evidence of our commitment to activating metadata includes our Open Data Quality Framework (ODQF), which we announced in our previous release 2022.2. The framework is underpinned by an open DQ API, which enables data quality partners to seamlessly integrate their speciality data quality information with Alation Data Catalog. In 2022.3, we are improving the ODQF by adding new column-level data quality health flags, which provide useful, granular insights derived from integrated data quality tools. We are activating useful data quality information in the catalog, for people who otherwise would not be able to see it in the data quality tool.

Stay tuned: There are more exciting third-party integrations on the Alation Anywhere roadmap, including communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams. When someone needs the official definition of a business term, they will be able to pull it from Alation directly within the chat app using a clever command. We will share more about the development of Alation Anywhere in the future.

Data governance at scale

In this release, we continue our deep investments in data governance. We’re pleased to have been recognized for our innovations in this area, being named a 2-time Snowflake Data Governance Partner of the Year, a clear leader in The Forrester Wave, Data Governance Solutions, and most importantly, giving customers like Texas Mutual Insurance an edge.

Building on this great momentum, and especially customer success, we introduced the Alation Data Governance App, which includes key features like:

  • Policy Center to centralize policy management,

  • Workflows to automate actions like review and approvals, and

  • Stewardship Workbench to curate data at scale, like applying policies

In 2022.3, we added new innovations to the Stewardship Workbench, including bulk updating people sets and custom fields. The ability to quickly drill down to relevant data and make bulk changes saves stewards the time and headache of doing it manually.

For example, the governance team can now use the Stewardship Workbench to streamline workflows with more powerful search. Teams can search and filter for all the sales operations data related to personal customer information, and bulk apply stewardship accountability to the sales operations steward team. Improvements to the Stewardship Workbench continue to centralize governance and support data search and discovery.

Tailoring data with personalization

Alation has long been (and always will be) a catalog for everyone — not just data analysts, not just data engineers, not just data stewards. Different catalogs for different types of users reintroduce silos, impeding collaboration and the cross-pollination of ideas and insight.

But different users have different needs. Data analysts need to find trustworthy data, data stewards need to curate data, and data engineers want to build pipelines and get high quality data into the hands of data consumers as quickly as possible.

Avocet Screenshot
Avocet Screenshot

With today’s release, we are personalizing users’ experience in Alation based on roles. This ensures everyone receives the most relevant information to successfully complete their work as quickly as possible.

We are starting with personalized homepages. Admins will be able to structure the homepage based on role. For example, an analyst who heavily works with SQL will see all the important data analytics information on the homepage, while a data steward who needs to curate data, will see all the critical data policies on the homepage. In the future, Alation will extend personalization to more areas of the catalog, making the experience better for the whole community.

In Conclusion

In this 2022.3 product release, we are proud of the innovation we are delivering. Alation Anywhere activates metadata across the decentralized modern data stack, enhancements to the Stewardship Workbench, bolsters our leading data governance capabilities, and the new personalized catalog homepage, ensures people have the most relevant data experience.

Learn more about what’s new in 2022.3:

  • Centralization of metadata
  • Visibility into a decentralized modern data stack
  • Activating metadata with Alation Anywhere
  • Data governance at scale
  • Tailoring data with personalization
  • In Conclusion
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