nClouds | AWS Case Studies Alation

How nClouds helped Alation modernize its infrastructure on AWS to test new features against multiple data platforms.

About Alation

Alation is a leader in enterprise data intelligence solutions, including data search and discovery, governance, stewardship, analytics, and digital transformation. Alation’s initial offering dominates the data catalog market. With a powerful Behavioral Analysis Engine, inbuilt collaboration capabilities, and open interfaces, Alation combines machine learning with human insight to successfully tackle even the most demanding challenges in data and metadata management. To learn more, go to alation.com

Industry

Data Intelligence, Data Catalog, Data Governance

Location

Redwood City, CA

Challenge

Modernize its infrastructure on AWS to test new features against multiple data platforms.

Featured Services

Infrastructure Modernization, DevOps, CI/CD, Data & Analytics

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Benefits Summary

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Improved efficiency

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Enhanced scalability and reliability

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Cost optimization

Challenge

Challenge:

Modernize its infrastructure on AWS to test new features against multiple data platforms.

Alation’s products run on many different data platforms, from standard MySQL and enterprise-grade Oracle databases to open-source Big Data Clusters such as Cloudera Distribution Hadoop (CDH) or Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP). Alation’s development team faced serious time constraints when testing new features against these multiple data platforms. Its support team needed to verify and isolate the cause of potential issues with customer installations.

Why AWS and nClouds

Alation required a flexible and readily available testing infrastructure. The company approached nClouds to assist with developing and implementing a cost-effective solution to its challenges.

Alation leverages several Amazon Web Services:

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) - A web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers. It provides complete control of computing resources and runs on Amazon's proven computing environment.
  • Amazon Redshift - Enables Alation to analyze all its business data using existing business intelligence tools.
  • Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) - Makes it easy for Alation to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while automating time-consuming administration tasks such as hardware provisioning, database setup, patching, and backups.
AWS Partner

Alation’s solution stack also includes additional, essential third-party tools:

  • Greenplum Database - A massively parallel processing (MPP) database server with an architecture designed to manage large-scale analytic data warehouses and business intelligence workloads.
  • HashiCorp Terraform - An infrastructure-as-code (IaC) tool that allows Alation to create, update, and version its AWS infrastructure.
  • IBM Db2 - A family of data management products, including the Db2 relational database. The products feature AI-powered capabilities to help modernize structured and unstructured data management across on-premises and multi-cloud environments.
  • Jenkins - An open-source automation server written in Java to support CI/CD.
  • SAP HANA - A high-performance in-memory database that provides advanced analytics on multi-model data, on-premises and in the cloud.
  • Teradata - A relational database management system (RDBMS) for large data warehousing applications.

nClouds' Solution Architecture for Alation

By taking advantage of AWS’s flexible on-demand architecture, Alation can create the required test configurations for a wide variety of databases from many vendors in a completely automated fashion. A specified test infrastructure is brought up as part of a Jenkins-based CI/CD solution. Database and data platforms are automatically deleted at the end of the integration test phase. This automated process also helps to provide developers with version-specific development resources reliably.

Alation can now reliably reproduce test environments that before were handcrafted and static. Test infrastructure that took hours or maybe days to create can now be brought up in a few minutes or an hour, depending on the complexity of the data platform.


High-level architecture diagram:

alation diagram

The Benefits

Teaming with nClouds, Alation now has completely automated its platform-specific test resources. Alation can test a wide variety of databases from many vendors. The project has yielded numerous benefits:

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Improved efficiency

Alation’s completely automated test configurations enable its new testing infrastructure to be brought up in minutes versus hours. Amazon RDS automates time-consuming administration tasks such as hardware provisioning, database setup, patching, and backups.

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Enhanced scalability and reliability

Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS provide resizable compute capacity in the cloud. Amazon EC2 instances can be resized, and the number of instances scaled up or down in minutes with an SLA commitment of 99.99% reliability.

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Cost optimization

Using Terraform’s infrastructure as code (IaC), all resources are represented in code, providing Alation with visibility to what is running and what shouldn’t be. AWS resources are brought up and removed on demand, enabling Alation to save costs by stopping or rightsizing instances with low utilization.

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