Data modeling is defined as the central step in software engineering that involves evaluating all the data dependencies for the application, explicitly explaining (typically through visualizations) how the data be used by the software, and defining data objects that will be stored in a database for later use. This article explains how data modeling works and the best practices to be followed.Â
Table of Contents
Data modeling is defined as the central step in software engineering that involves evaluating all the data dependencies for the application, explicitly explaining (typically through visualizations) how the data be used by the software, and defining data objects that will be stored in a database for later use.Â
Data modeling is the process of making a visual representation of all or part of an information system to show how different data points and organizational structures are linked. The goal is to explain the different types of data that are used and stored in the system, how different types of data are connected, how data can be grouped and organized, and what its formats and features are.
When making data models, business needs are taken into account. Rules and requirements are designed with the help of feedback from business stakeholders before they are added to the design of a new system or changed during an iteration of an existing one.
A data model is similar to a flowchart since it visually represents how data entities are related, their various attributes, and the nature of the data entities themselves.
Thanks to data models, data management and analytics teams can discover mistakes in development plans and describe the data requirements for apps, even before any code is created. As an alternative, data models can be produced by efforts to extract them from current systems through reverse engineering.
This is done to design schemas for sets of raw data stored in data lakes or NoSQL databases to enable particular analytics applications and to document the structure of relational databases that were built on an as-needed basis without prior data modeling. The three basic categories of data models used by organizations are as follows:Â
1. Conceptual data model
The conceptual data model illustrates the data plan’s overarching structure and essential components, but it does not describe the plan’s particulars. It is the â€œbig pictureâ€ model. The conceptual model is an essential part of the documentation for the data architecture. It acts as a high-level guide for the creation of the logical and physical models, and it is one of the models itself. The system’s content is defined by the data model. Business stakeholders and data architects are usually the ones who develop this model. The goal is to arrange, set up, and define business ideas and rules.
2. Logical data model
Regardless of the database management system (DBMS), the logical data model specifies how the system should be implemented. This model is often established by business analysts and data architects. This model’s intended use is to sketch out a logical framework for organizing and enforcing data structures and policies. The logical data model is the second degree of detail. The conceptual model’s basic structure is furthered by the logical model, which omits details about the database itself because it may be used to describe a variety of database technologies and products.
3. Physical data model
This data model outlines how a specific DBMS system will be used to implement the system. Database administrators (DBAs) and developers are often the ones who construct the physical data model. The end aim is to have the database up and running.It must be detailed enough to allow programmers and hardware engineers to build the actual database architecture needed to support the applications it will be used with.
A specific database software system will always have its own one-of-a-kind physical data model. It is possible to derive many physical models from a single logical model only if multiple database management systems are deployed.
See More: Top 10 Data Governance Tools for 2021
Data modeling uses formal methods and defined schemas. This provides a standardized, dependable, and predictable mechanism for identifying and managing data resources within an organization, and even outside of it if necessary. Different data modeling approaches adhere to a variety of standards that outline the symbols that should be used to represent the data, the manner in which models should be structured, and the channels through which business requirements should be communicated. Each method offers structured workflows that list a series of iteratively to be completed tasks.
Finding a uniform method to represent the organization’s data in the most practical way is the main premise behind data modeling strategies; The languages establish a common notation for describing the connections between data items, which aids in the communication of the data model.
To describe any technique, any language can be utilized. Along with the introduction of new categories of databases and computer systems, data modeling methods have changed. Modern data modeling technologies can help you define and build your data models and databases. Here are some common techniques and steps for data modeling:
1. Entity-relationship (E-R) model
Entity-relationship (ER) data models use formal diagrams to show how entities in a database are linked to each other. Using a variety of ER modeling tools, data architects create visual maps that show how database design goals are to be met. A high-level relational model known as the ER model is used to specify the data elements and relationships for the system’s entities.
This conceptual layout offers a clearer picture of the data to make it easier for us to comprehend. This model shows the whole database with an entity-relationship diagram, which is made up of Entities, Attributes, and Relationships. Entity-relationship (ER) models are a version of the relational model that can also be utilized with other types of databases. They visibly represent entities, their attributes, and the relationships between various organizations.
2. Hierarchical data modeling
The hierarchical model has a structure resembling a tree. The hierarchy grows like a tree from the root outward. In this type of model, each record has a single root or parent table that is linked to one or more than one child tables.However, the hierarchical paradigm is currently only sporadically employed.
This data modeling approach uses one-to-many modeling, where each child record can only have one parent. The other nodes, which are called â€œchild nodes,â€ are set up in a certain order, and there is only one root node, also called a â€œparent node.â€ The mainframe databases were where the hierarchical method first appeared. Although relational data models began to largely replace hierarchical ones in the 1980s, IMS is still available and is currently in use by many businesses.
3. Relational data modeling
As a more adaptable substitute for network and hierarchical ones, the relational data model was developed. Entities can have one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, or many-to-many relationships with each other. The relational model, which was first introduced by IBM researcher Edgar F. Codd in a technical paper published in 1970, depicts the relationships between data components stored in several tables with varying sets of rows and columns.
Relational data modeling paved the way for the creation of relational model databases, and by the middle of the 1990s, its extensive application had made it the most widely used data modeling method. Structured Query Language (SQL) is a common data query language used in relational databases for data management.
4. Network data modeling
A graph-like arrangement of the data allows for the possibility of numerous â€˜parent’ nodes for â€˜child’ nodes. By enabling connections between numerous parent records and child records, network data models improved upon hierarchical ones. It has a feature called a schema. This feature displays the data as a graph and presents it in a comprehensible manner.
A node is a way to represent an object in a way that can hold many parent and child records. Within this representation, the relationship between them is shown as an edge. A network data model specification was approved by CODASYL, the Conference on Data Systems Languages, in 1969. Because of this, the CODASYL model is a common name for the network approach. This is another widely used data modeling approach that’s no longer as prevalent.
5. Dimensional data modeling
Data warehouses and data marts that serve business intelligence applications frequently employ dimensional data models. They are made up of dimension tables, which list the attributes of the entities in the fact tables, and fact tables. Star schemas, which link a fact table to various dimension tables, and snowflake schemas, which have numerous tiers of dimension tables, are notable examples of dimensional models.
Due to the fact that it is less rigid and organized, the dimensional approach encourages a contextual data structure. This kind of data structure is more tied to the business use or context. The database structure shown here is well suited for use with tools for data warehousing as well as online queries. Ralph Kimball created dimensional data models, which were intended to accelerate data retrieval for analytical needs in a data warehouse.
When embarking on a data modeling project or task, one should remember the following best practices:
1. Design the data model for visualization
It’s improbable that gazing at endless columns and rows of alphanumeric entries can lead to enlightenment. Many people feel at ease viewing graphical data visualizations that make it easy to spot any irregularities or utilizing intuitive drag-and-drop screen interfaces to quickly analyze and merge data tables.
You can clean your data using techniques like these for data visualization to make it comprehensive, error-free, and redundant-free. Additionally, they aid in identifying various data record types that are equivalent to the same physical item so that you can translate them into standardized fields and formats to facilitate the fusion of various data sources.
2. Recognize the demands of the business and aim for relevant results
To help an organization function more effectively is the goal of data modeling. When seen from the point of view of a trained professional, the most significant challenge posed by data modeling is the precise capturing of business needs. This is necessary in order to determine which data should be gathered, retained, modified, and made available to users.Â
By asking users and stakeholders about the results they need from the data, you may gain a thorough understanding of the needs. With those goals in mind, start arranging your data. It is preferable to start structuring your data sets thoughtfully with the needs of users and stakeholders in mind.
3. Establish a single source of truth
Bring all of your sources’ raw data into your database or data warehouse. The flow of your data model may be impacted if you rely solely on â€œad-hocâ€ data extraction from the source. You will have all the historical data if you use the entire pool of raw data that is housed in your centralized hub. Applying logic to data that has been taken directly from a source and doing calculations on it can have a negative impact or even destroy your entire model. Where something goes wrong during the process, it is also extremely difficult to repair or sustain.
4. Start with simple data modeling and expand later
Due to variables including size, type, structure, growth pace, and query language, data can become complex very quickly. It is simpler to fix issues and take the right steps when data models are kept modest and straightforward at first. You can add new datasets after you are confident that your original models are correct and significant, removing any inconsistencies along the way. One should look for a tool that is simple to use at first but can support very large data models later on. It should also allow you to quickly combine multiple data sources from various physical locations.
5. Before moving on, double-check each step of your data modeling
Before going on to the next stage, each activity should be double-checked, starting with the data modeling priorities based on the business requirements. Choosing a primary key for a dataset, for instance, ensures that each record in the dataset can be uniquely recognized by the value of the primary key in that record. The same method can be used to merge two datasets to verify if there is a one-to-one or one-to-many relationship between them and to prevent many-to-many interactions that result in excessively complicated or unmanageable data models.
6. Organize business queries according to dimensions, data, filters, and order
Well-organized data sets help one formulate business questions by understanding how these four variables might be used to articulate business queries. For example, if a retail business has locations across the globe, one can identify the best-performing ones in the previous year. The facts would be sets of historical sales data, the dimensions are the product and the shop location, the filter is â€œlast 12 months,â€ and the order is â€œbest five stores in declining order of sales.â€By carefully organizing your data sets and leveraging distinct tables for dimensions and facts, you may assist the research by identifying the top sales performers for every quarter and accurately responding to additional business intelligence inquiries.Â
7. Perform computations beforehand to prevent disputes with end customers
Establishing a single truth version against which users may do business is essential. There should be no disagreement regarding the underlying information or the calculation used to arrive at the answer, even though people may disagree on how it should be used. For instance, a calculation might be necessary to combine daily sales data into monthly figures, which can then be compared to identify the best and worst months.
In lieu of asking everyone to utilize their own calculators or spreadsheet tools, a business may prevent problems by including this computation into its data modeling in advance.Â
8. Search for a relationship rather than just a correlation
Data modeling includes instructions on how to use the modeled data. Enabling users to access business intelligence independently is a huge step, but it’s as important that they avoid jumping to incorrect conclusions. For instance, it’s possible if we see how the sales of two unrelated products appear to rise and fall together. Are revenues of one item driving sales of another, or do they grow and decrease concurrently in reaction to variables such as the economy and the weather? Here, a puzzling correlation and connection may be aimed in the wrong direction, depleting resources as a result.
9. To carry out complex jobs, use contemporary tools and methods
Programming may be used to prepare data sets for analysis before more complex data modeling is performed. But suppose there was a program or app that could handle such difficult tasks. People are no longer required to learn a variety of coding languages, which frees up your time to focus on tasks that are beneficial to your company.Specialized software, such as Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) tools, may facilitate or automate all the processes of data extraction, transformation, and data loading.Â A drag-and-drop interface can also be used to combine different data sources, and data modeling can even be carried out automatically.
10. Enhanced data modeling for improved business resultsÂ
Data modeling that assists users in finding solutions to their business questions expeditiously may boost performance of the company in the areas of effectiveness, yield, competency, and customer happiness, among others. Using technology to speed the phases of investigating data sets for answers to all questions, as well as in relation to organizational objectives, business goals, and tools, are key components. Additionally, it involves assigning data priorities for various business activities. Your company will be able to more confidently anticipate the critical values and productivity increases that data modeling will offer once you have satisfied these scenarios.
11. Verify and test the application of your data analytics
Test the implementation of your analytics just like you would any other built-and-implemented functionality. It should be tested to see if the amount and accuracy of the entire data collection are accurate. Consider whether your data is organized correctly and enables you to obtain a critical measure. Additionally, you can create some queries to get a better idea of how it will function and apply. Additionally, we advise creating a variety of projects to test your execution and implementation.
Data modeling is a crucial IT discipline for any organization. When building an app, it depicts 360-degree data dependencies and preempts bottlenecks. It helps maintain data-driven cloud services like e-commerce and provides better user experiences. It also keeps enterprise data repositories up-to-date so that you can extract the most valuable insights. By knowing the different types of data models, data modeling techniques, and best practices, one can unlock its full potential.Â
Did this article help you understand how data modeling works and why it is so important? Tell us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window . We’d love to hear from you!Â
MORE ON DATA SCIENCEÂ
- Top 8 Big Data Security Best Practices for 2021
- What Is Data Fabric? Definition, Architecture, and Best Practices
- What Is Deepfake? Meaning, Types of Frauds, Examples, and Prevention Best Practices for 2022
- What Is Cassandra? Meaning, Working, Features, and Uses
- What Is Kubernetes? Working, Architecture, and Importance