Open Source Delta Lake

Delta Lake is an open-source storage layer that brings ACID transactions to Apache Spark™ and big data workloads.

  1. Key Features
  2. Key Concepts: Delta Lake Architecture

1. Key Features

Quick start intro to Delta Lake.

ACID Transactions: Data lakes typically have multiple data pipelines reading and writing data concurrently, and data engineers have to go through a tedious process to ensure data integrity, due to the lack of transactions. Delta Lake brings ACID transactions to your data lakes. It provides serializability, the strongest level of isolation level.

Scalable Metadata Handling: In big data, even the metadata itself can be “big data”. Delta Lake treats metadata just like data, leveraging Spark’s distributed processing power to handle all its metadata. As a result, Delta Lake can handle petabyte-scale tables with billions of partitions and files at ease.

Time Travel (data versioning): Delta Lake provides snapshots of data enabling developers to access and revert to earlier versions of data for audits, rollbacks or to reproduce experiments.

Open Format: All data in Delta Lake is stored in Apache Parquet format enabling Delta Lake to leverage the efficient compression and encoding schemes that are native to Parquet.

Unified Batch and Streaming Source and Sink: A table in Delta Lake is both a batch table, as well as a streaming source and sink. Streaming data ingest, batch historic backfill, and interactive queries all just work out of the box.

Schema Enforcement: Delta Lake provides the ability to specify your schema and enforce it. This helps ensure that the data types are correct and required columns are present, preventing bad data from causing data corruption.

Schema Evolution: Big data is continuously changing. Delta Lake enables you to make changes to a table schema that can be applied automatically, without the need for cumbersome DDL.

100% Compatible with Apache Spark API: Developers can use Delta Lake with their existing data pipelines with minimal change as it is fully compatible with Spark, the commonly used big data processing engine.

2. Key Concepts: Delta Lake Architecture

Throughout our Delta Lake discussions, we’ll often refer to the concept of Bronze/Silver/Gold tables. These levels refer to the state of data refinement as data flows through a processing pipeline.

These levels are conceptual guidelines, and implemented architectures may have any number of layers with various levels of enrichment. Below are some general ideas about the state of data in each level.

  • Bronze tables
    • Raw data (or very little processing)
    • Data will be stored in the Delta format (can encode raw bytes as a column)
  • Silver tables
    • Data that is directly queryable and ready for insights
    • Bad records have been handled, types have been enforced
  • Gold tables
    • Highly refined views of the data
    • Aggregate tables for BI
    • Feature tables for data scientists

For different workflows, things like schema enforcement and deduplication may happen in different places.