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Alation Data Catalog helps provide collaborative data governance

Alation Data Catalog provides business analysts and data stewards with search and discovery, governance and collaboration functionality, and automates many data governance tasks.

Alation Data Catalog 3.8 serves as the central point of reference for data scattered across an organization and comes with tools for governance, discovery and analysis. Alation Inc.'s Data Catalog integrates with a wide range of data sources, including Hive, MySQL, IBM, Oracle, Tableau and Teradata, enabling it to import and index metadata from disparate repositories in one place. It automates many governance tasks, such as updating data dictionaries and educating users on good governance practices, and provides collaboration features so users can share information.

How does Alation Data Catalog support data governance tasks?

Alation Data Catalog scours an organization's multiple data repositories and imports metadata and data artifacts, such as schemas, usage logs and source code, to build a knowledge base of data assets and their history. Among its capabilities are machine learning and language modeling, which it uses to perform tasks such as modeling data lineage, mapping the relationships between data and users, and "learning" the meanings of abbreviations and terms that are unique to the business.

The Alation Data Catalog has three key areas of functionality: search and discovery, governance, and collaboration. In addition to the governance features discussed above, the Alation product provides suggestions and alerts to help analysts follow best practices. It speeds the recruitment of data stewards by identifying the principle users of data based on the amount of queries and documentation they've written. The business glossary can map entries to underlying data objects such as tables and reports. Alation automatically creates and updates an integrated data dictionary for all data sources, which can help establish good data governance practices by providing room for usage policies, glossary links and data quality warnings on each page.

Search and discovery capabilities enable analysts to quickly search for data using natural language business terms. Analysts can query data in whatever repository it resides, be it Oracle, Teradata, Hadoop, MySQL or others. And if they require help, a SmartSuggest tool will recommend the best queries based on past usage.

Business analysts and data stewards can collaborate in forums and by tagging conversations, queries, tables or query results. The natural language search feature lets business users look for colleagues who are familiar with a specific set of data, while the collaborative capabilities let them ask questions about queries, data origins and other issues, and even track the exchange for later reference.

Who benefits from using Alation?

Alation Data Catalog is designed for companies of all sizes that have multiple data repositories and a need for a centralized data reference. Its primary users are business analysts who may need help finding and selecting data or following governance policies. It's also aimed at data stewards who want a common metadata repository and tools to define and organize metadata about multiple data assets.

How is it licensed and priced?

Alation Data Catalog is available as an annual license for the server software and an additional per-user fee. While it is typically implemented in-house closest to the data, it can also be run as an externally or internally hosted cloud application. Alation Data Catalog is Linux-based software and can be accessed via any web browser while its included query tool, Alation Compose, also provides desktop access.

Next Steps

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This was last published in September 2016

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Who in your organization would benefit the most from a collaborative data governance tool?
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The stakeholders who would most benefit from such a tool would be Chief Data Officers, Analysts, Data Governors, and Date Engineers. Here are some ways in which each function would get utility out of a collaborative data catalog:

- https://alation.com/user/chief-data-officer/
- https://alation.com/user/data-consumer/
- https://alation.com/user/data-curator/
- https://alation.com/user/data-creator/

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