8 minute read · February 23, 2024

What is DataOps? Automating Data Management on the Apache Iceberg Lakehouse

Alex Merced

Alex Merced · Senior Tech Evangelist, Dremio


The ability to manage and manipulate vast amounts of data efficiently is not just an advantage; it's a necessity. As organizations strive to become more agile and data-centric, a new discipline has emerged at the intersection of data management and operations: DataOps. This article delves into the essence of DataOps, its goals, and why it's becoming an indispensable part of the data lakehouse paradigm.

DataOps, or Data Operations, represents a shift in how data is handled, processed, and delivered within organizations. With the advent of complex data ecosystems and the exponential growth of data volumes, traditional data management practices are no longer sufficient. DataOps emerges as a critical discipline, aiming to streamline the end-to-end data lifecycle, enhance data quality, and foster a culture of collaboration among those who use and manage data.

Understanding DataOps

The Essence of DataOps

DataOps focuses on improving the coordination between data creators, managers, and consumers to ensure data is accurate, accessible, and secure. DataOps is not just about technology; it's about people and processes that drive faster, more efficient, and more reliable data outcomes.

Objectives of DataOps

DataOps is built around several key objectives:

Agility: Implementing practices that allow for rapid, iterative development and delivery of data products.

Accuracy: Ensuring data quality and consistency across the data lifecycle.

Collaboration: Promoting open communication and cooperation across traditionally siloed teams, including data engineers, scientists, and business analysts.

Why DataOps Matters to the Data Lakehouse Paradigm

The data lakehouse architecture seeks to unify the flexibility of data lakes with the governance and performance characteristics of traditional data warehouses. In this hybrid model, data is stored in a raw, granular format but managed with schema-on-read capabilities to support diverse analytical and machine learning workloads. This approach, however, introduces complexities in data management, governance, and quality that DataOps is uniquely positioned to address.

Implementing DataOps with Modern Tools

The goals of DataOps can be significantly advanced through the strategic use of tools designed for data versioning, transformation, and orchestration. Dremio, Nessie/Iceberg, and dbt are among the leading technologies that enable these practices.

Dremio for Agile Data Access and Querying

Dremio is a data lakehouse platform, providing direct, SQL-based access to data stored in a data lake and other locations without traditional ETL processes. It supports DataOps by:

  • Enabling self-service data access for analysts and scientists, reducing dependencies on data engineering teams.
  • Accelerating query performance, making iterative exploration and analysis feasible even on large datasets.
  • Facilitating data democratization means ensuring insights can be quickly derived and shared across the organization.

Nessie/Iceberg for Data Versioning and Governance

In conjunction with table formats like Apache Iceberg, Project Nessie introduces git-like version control for data. This combination supports DataOps by:

  • Managing data evolution through branching and merging allows experimentation and development without disrupting production data.
  • Improving data governance with rollback capabilities and audit trails for all changes, enhances security and compliance.
  • Simplifying schema evolution, ensuring that changes are seamlessly propagated and managed across all data consumers.
Demonstration of Dremio Cloud's Nessie-Based Integrations enabling Git-for-Data

dbt for Transforming and Testing Data

dbt (data build tool) enables analytics engineers to transform data in the warehouse through SQL - the same language used for analysis. dbt fits into the DataOps ecosystem by:

  • Treating data transformation as code, which can be versioned, tested, and deployed through CI/CD pipelines.
  • Automating data testing, ensuring that data quality issues are detected and addressed early in the development cycle.
  • Encouraging documentation and collaboration, making it easier for teams to understand and leverage transformations built by their peers.
Demonstration of using dbt with Dremio

Implementing DataOps in Your Organization

Adopting DataOps is not merely about adopting new tools; it's about fostering a culture of collaboration, continuous improvement, and proactive data management. Here are steps to start implementing DataOps:

Assess Your Current Data Practices: Identify bottlenecks, pain points, and areas where data quality or access can be improved.

Build a Cross-Functional Team: DataOps thrives on collaboration. Include members from data engineering, data science, IT, and business.

Start Small: Pick a pilot project to apply DataOps practices. Use this as a learning experience to refine your approach before scaling.

Adopt the Right Tools: Dremio, Nessie/Iceberg, and dbt can address specific DataOps needs. Choose based on compatibility with your existing tech stack and your specific challenges.

Embrace Continuous Learning: DataOps is an iterative process. Encourage feedback, share lessons learned, and continuously refine your practices.


DataOps represents a paradigm shift in managing and utilizing data across organizations. By adopting DataOps principles, companies can ensure their data lakehouse architecture is not just a repository of information but a dynamic, efficient engine for innovation and growth. Tools like Dremio, Nessie/Iceberg, and dbt are crucial enablers, offering the capabilities needed to realize the goals of DataOps.

As data grows in volume, variety, and importance, the principles of DataOps will become increasingly central to managing this invaluable resource. By fostering a culture of collaboration, continuous improvement, and proactive data management, organizations can unlock the full potential of their data, driving better decision-making, faster innovation, and, ultimately, competitive advantage in the digital age.

Learn more about adopting DataOps practices with Dremio's Lakehouse Management features here.

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