Data Operations

The Essential Pieces for the Modern Data Platform

Cole Lehman
Cole Lehman

The modern data platform is essential for businesses to get the most from their data. Without one in place, you can’t manage, store, analyze, and integrate data in an efficient and cost-effective way. With one, you can do all that—and get the valuable insights you need to make decisions to grow your business, break down data silos, and optimize workflows.

To start building your modern data platform or augment your existing data infrastructure, you need the right combination of data tools and technologies. From ETL data pipelines to a scalable data storage solution, your DataOps team has to find a custom set of solutions that moves, stores, and analyzes your growing data sets.

Let’s go over what a modern data platform is, the essential components, and the benefits of building your own.

What is a modern data platform?

A modern data platform is a set of data tools and technologies that allow businesses to easily move, store, manage, ingest, transform, analyze, and visualize data. When complete, it provides the necessary ecosystem for your business to access and use quality data sets to develop insights, drive decisions from accurate data analytics, and create competitive advantages.

Modern data platforms include a range of components for many use cases such as the following:

  • ETL processes
  • Data pipelines
  • Cloud data warehouses
  • Data analysis tools

All of these components work together to provide your organization with the most efficient, accurate, and secure way to access and manage big data.

With the right pieces in place to execute your data strategy, your company increases data agility and uncovers insights that lead to improved customer experience, better product development, increased operational efficiency, and higher profit margins.

To build a modern data platform, you must answer some important questions, identify the gaps in your current data architecture, and assess the market of data tools to fill in the holes. You might need a new cloud ETL tool to automate the movement of data between different SaaS sources and destinations. Or a data ingestion pipeline to pull in data from your social media and website analytics.

Every business needs to invest in reliable storage like cloud data warehouse solutions. You may need to modernize yours to securely store large amounts of structured and unstructured data at scale. Whatever pieces you need to fill in your modern data platform tend to fall into common categories.

Essential parts of a modern data platform

A modern data platform in its simplest form looks like a central data storage solution (cloud or on-premise data warehousing) connected to all possible sources through data pipelines of many kinds. Data modeling and analysis tools work on the inside of your cloud data warehouse and data visualization tools show the results. Data analysis tools like Tableau and PowerBI are used to visualize the data stored in the cloud data warehouse and extract valuable insights.

With data observability tools running to observe all the automated data movements, your data engineers can always go back and find problems in the data workflows.

Here’s a list of the main data platform components needed for successful data collection, storage, transformation, analysis, and visualization.

1. Data warehouse/storage

Data warehouses act as the core of any modern data platform. They store large volumes of structured or semi-structured data and allow for efficient retrieval and analysis. Cloud data warehouses are designed to be highly scalable, allowing them to store data from multiple sources.

Cloud data warehouses are becoming increasingly popular due to their scalability, security, and affordability. They provide businesses with an easy way to store large amounts of structured or unstructured data in the cloud. This makes it easier to access and analyze data from multiple sources in a single location.

2. Data ingestion

Data ingestion is the process of transferring data from a source (SaaS app, analytics app, etc.) to a destination (cloud data warehouse, data lake, etc.). Many different kinds of data pipelines and processes can accomplish data ingestion.

3. Data orchestration

Data orchestration moves large volumes of data between different points in the data platform. Data orchestration automates the process of moving data from one system to another, ensuring that it is available for analysis quickly and efficiently.

4. Transformation process

Transformation systems turn your data into usable formats and schema before it gets used by other tools. It's important to have a reliable process that can be orchestrated to transform your data into the desired output time and time again.

5. Data analysis

Data analysis is an integral part of any modern data platform. Data analysis helps businesses understand how their customers interact with their products and services, as well as enables them to identify areas for improvement. Real-time analysis can help you create predictive models and make better business decisions based on constant insight.

6. Machine Learning and AI

Machine learning (ML) and AI tools allow users to transform and manipulate data quickly and easily. ML and AI data tools enable data scientists to build custom models, create reports, and analyze trends in large datasets.

7. Data observability

Data observability is everything you know and control about the health of your data, its performance, and the state of data as it moves through (or sits in) your data platform.

Data observability maintains data quality through data monitoring, alerts for unexpected events and anomalies, data tracking, data analysis, and more. It gives you insight into everything about your data—whether your data is at rest in data warehouses, data lakes, and databases, or in motion through data pipelines.

8. Data visualization tools

You need to show your teams and executives useful data visualizations in order to share insights with the business. This output of the data platform can be complex or simple depending on how well you take care of everything else. In the end, building a dashboard to show crucial data should be easy for your data team.

Whatever pieces you need to fill in your modern data platform, the investment will be worth the benefits to your business.

Benefits of a modern data platform

When you unlock the value of your data and leverage it properly, there are endless benefits. Some of the initial ones from building a modern data platform are improved data accessibility and faster decision-making.

Now you don’t need to wait days or weeks (or waste expensive months on business intelligence projects) to turn your data into actionable insights. Instead, your DataOps team can quickly analyze, model, and visualize mission-critical data.

Once you assemble a comprehensive set of data tools and technologies into a platform, you start getting these benefits immediately:

  • Cost-savings and scalability: Eliminate costly physical infrastructure and use pay-as-you-go pricing models that make cloud affordable.
  • Reduced data processing time: Cloud-based resources reduce the time it takes to process your data.
  • Automate DataOps tasks: Create automated data flows from source to destination to provide real-time data for business intelligence, web products, and data science teams.
  • Improved data quality: Cloud-based ETL tools improve data quality by ensuring that only clean and accurate data moves between systems.
  • Better decision-making: With access to timely and accurate data, organizations can make better decisions about their business operations.
  • Simple setup and maintenance: Cloud ETL tools are simple to set up (compared to building and maintaining the ETL process yourself) and easier to maintain over time because you aren’t responsible for the hardware.

Additionally, businesses are able to take advantage of advanced analytics and machine learning techniques to gain deeper insights into their data. This provides them with the ability to stay ahead of their competition and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Tools to build a modern data platform

There are many different types of data tools you can choose from to piece together your data platform. It's best to choose an agile tool combination that offers an end-to-end solution for capturing, organizing, structuring, storing, analyzing, and delivering data across the enterprise. This will ensure that your teams work more efficiently with the right information at their fingertips.

Here are some of the best modern data platform tools you can use to collaborate on data operations from any location.


Snowflake is a fully managed cloud data service that’s simple to use but powers a near-unlimited number of concurrent workloads. It’s your solution for data warehouses, data lakes, data engineering, data science, data application development, and securely sharing and consuming shared data.

Fivetran Data Pipelines

Fivetran helps data engineers effortlessly centralize data so your team can deliver better insights faster. It enables you to securely access and send data to one location to instantly connect hundreds of powerful databases and data sources.

dbt Cloud Data Transformation

dbt is a development framework that combines modular SQL with software engineering best practices to make data transformation reliable, fast, and fun. With dbt, data teams work directly with the warehouse to produce trusted datasets for reporting, ML modeling, and operational workflows.

Shipyard Data Orchestration

Shipyard integrates with Snowflake, Fivetran, and dbt Cloud to build error-proof data workflows in 10 minutes without relying on DevOps. It gives data engineers the tools to quickly launch, monitor, and share resilient data workflows. Plus, these tools can drive value from your data at record speeds (without the headache).

With a modern data platform in place, your developers can focus on creating high-value analytical apps. These systems ensure data availability, provide access control, and improve disaster recovery capabilities.

Where do I get started?

If you need to build a modern data platform on top of your existing data stack or modernize your legacy systems, a crucial step is to find the right technology to tie it all together. Shipyard’s data automation tools and integrations fill in the missing parts of your data platform technology puzzle.

It’s easy to find out how and where Shipyard works best for you. Sign up to demo the Shipyard app with our free Developer plan—no credit card required. Start building data workflows in 10 minutes or less, automate them, and see if Shipyard fits your DataOps needs.