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The hub-and-spoke model: An alternative to data mesh



The hub-and-spoke model: An alternative to data mesh

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Data mesh is a hot topic in the data and analytics community. Introduced in 2020 by Zhamak Dehghani in her paper “Data Mesh Principles and Logical Architecture”, data mesh is a new distributed model for organizing analytics teams to deliver data products and is meant to address the challenges of both centralized and decentralized data. But is this approach truly the best approach for today’s enterprises? 

Organization models for analytics

Over the years, we’ve seen both centralized and decentralized organizational models for delivering analytics to the business. While both models have their advantages, each has some severe drawbacks that make them inadequate for meeting the needs of today’s data-hungry consumers.

1. Centralized model

The data warehouse allows enterprises to store data in a single, curated location so, in theory, everyone can find and query their data with confidence. With central control over the data platform and standards, data can be defined consistently and delivered reliably.

Figure 1: Centralized model for data & analytics management

In practice, however, there’s a few big problems with this approach. First, the data has to be so carefully curated and loaded, that only IT has the required skills to build the data warehouse. This sets up IT to be a bottleneck for integrating new data. Second, since the IT team typically doesn’t understand the business, they struggle to translate business requirements into technical requirements — and therefore exacerbate the bottleneck, frustrating their customers. Finally, business users struggle to parse through thousands of data warehouse tables, making the centralized data warehouse appealing to only the most sophisticated users.

2. Decentralized model

Driven by end-user frustration and the explosion in popularity of visualization tools like Tableau, business users have taken matters into their own hands with a decentralized approach. Instead of waiting for IT to deliver data, business users have created their own data extracts, data models and reports. By decentralizing data preparation, business users broke free from IT and avoided the “lost in translation” issue associated with the centralized, IT-led approach.

Figure 2: Decentralized model for data & analytics management

In practice, however, this approach, like the centralized approach, also introduced some major challenges. First, with a lack of control over business definitions, business users created their own versions of reality with every dashboard they authored. As a result, competing business definitions and results destroyed management’s confidence and trust in analytics outputs. Second, the decentralized approach drove a proliferation of competing and often incompatible platforms and tooling, making integrating analytics across business units difficult or impossible.

The data mesh

Data mesh is meant to address the challenges of both models. It accepts that today’s data is distributed and allows all users in an organization to access and analyze business insights from virtually any data source, without the intervention from expert data teams. It is based more on people and organization than technology, which is why it is so compelling. The distributed architecture of a mesh decentralizes the ownership of every business domain. This means every domain has control over the quality, privacy, freshness, accuracy and compliance of data for analytical and operational use cases.

The data mesh approach, however, advocates for a fully decentralized organizational model by abolishing the centralized team altogether. I’d like to suggest an alternative to this approach that introduces a center of excellence to make a decentralized model of data management viable for most enterprises.  

Hub-and-spoke model: An alternative to data mesh

It’s clear that neither approach, centralized or decentralized, can deliver agility and consistency at the same time. These goals are in conflict. There is a model, however, that can deliver the best of both worlds if implemented with proper tooling and processes.

The “hub-and-spoke” model is an alternative to the data mesh architecture with some critical differences. Namely, the hub-and-spoke model introduces a central data team, or center of excellence (the “hub”). This team owns the data platform, tooling and process standards whereas the business domain teams (the “spokes”) own the data products for their domains. This approach solves the “anything goes” phenomenon of the decentralized model, while empowering subject matter experts (SMEs), or data stewards, to autonomously create data products that meet their needs.

Figure 3: Hub-and-spoke model for data & analytics management

Supporting a decentralized, hub-and-spoke model for creating data products requires that teams speak a common data language, and it’s not SQL. What’s needed is a logical way of defining data relationships and business logic that’s separate and distinct from the physical representation of the data. A semantic data model is an ideal candidate to serve as the Rosetta Stone for disparate data domain teams because it can be used to create a digital twin of the business by mapping physical data into business-friendly terms. Domain experts can encode their business knowledge into digital form for others to query, connect and enhance.

For this approach to work at scale, it’s critical to implement a common semantic layer platform that supports data model sharing, conformed dimensions, collaboration and ownership. With a semantic layer, the central data team (hub) can define common models and conformed dimensions (i.e., time, product, customer) while the domain experts (spokes) own and define their business process models (i.e., “billing,” “shipping,” “lead gen”). With the ability to share model assets, business users can combine their models with models from other domains to create new mashups for answering deeper questions.

Figure 4: Combining shared models & domain-specific models

The hub-and-spoke model succeeds because it plays to the strengths of the centralized and business domain teams: the centralized team owns and operates the technical platform and publishes shared models, while the business teams create domain-specific data products using a consistent set of business definitions and without the need for understanding other domains’ business models.

How to get there

Moving to a hub-and-spoke model for delivering data products doesn’t need to be disruptive. There are two paths to success, depending on your existing model for analytics delivery. 

If your current analytics organization is centralized, the central team and business teams should collectively identify key data domains, assign data stewardship and embed an analytics engineer into each. The analytics engineer may come from the central team or the business team. Using a semantic layer platform, the embedded analytics engineer can work inside the business domain team to create data models and data products for that domain. The embedded analytics engineer works with the central data team to set standards for tooling and process while identifying common models.

If your current organization is decentralized, you can create a central data team to establish standards for tooling and process. In addition to managing the semantic layer platform and its shared objects and models, the central data team may manage data pipelines and data platforms shared by the domain teams.

Building for scale

The optimal organizational model for analytics will depend on your organization’s size and maturity. However, it’s never too early to build for scale. No matter how small, investing in a hub-and-spoke, decentralized model for creating data products will pay dividends now and in the future. By promoting data stewardship and ownership by domain experts, using a common set of tools and semantic definitions, your entire organization will be empowered to create data products at scale.

David P. Mariani is CTO and cofounder of AtScale, Inc.


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5 reasons you should buy a cheap phone over an expensive one



5 reasons you should buy a cheap phone over an expensive one
Moto G22 face down on top of a wall

The Moto G22 on a wall.
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re looking for a new phone, a key consideration is always budget – you want to buy the best phone you can afford. But maybe, even if you’ve got the money for a premium device, you should still opt for a cheap phone.

“Wait,” you’re probably thinking, “are you asking me to spend less than I’m able on my new phone?”  Yes, I am – you’re absolutely right.

You see, despite budget phones being weaker than premium ones in quite a few ways (obviously), there are a few departments in which they actually beat top-end models.

So we’re going to run through some different areas in which cheap phones actually trump their pricier rivals. 

1. It costs less money

Okay, we’ve got to start with the really, really obvious point. A cheap phone is – you guessed it – cheaper than an expensive one.

If you spend less on your phone, you’ve got more to spend on the best power banks, phone cases, charging cables, and so on. Plus, you’ve got extra for non-smartphone things. Y’know: bills, food, transport, and so on.

Smartphones operate on the rule of diminishing returns: a $400 smartphone is not twice as good as a $200 one, and a $1,200 phone isn’t twice as good as a $600 version or four times better in any way than a $300 one.

So if you want the best bang for your buck, a budget mobile will get you there.

Moto G9 Power

The Moto G9 Power has a massive battery. (Image credit: Future)

2. Much better battery life

Phones don’t have great battery life sometimes: when you factor in features like 5G, high refresh rates, top-end processors, and so on, a giant battery can get worn down incredibly quickly.

But you know what cheap phones don’t have? That’s right – any of those features. If a phone is 4G-only, has a low-res screen, and only runs with a middling chipset, it uses the battery at a much slower rate. All of the longest-lasting smartphones are budget ones.

That’s doubly the case when you consider that cheap phone makers like to use huge batteries in their phones – plenty have 5,000mAh power packs. Motorola has even used 6,000mAh ones in some phones, and certain Chinese rugged phone brands have gone even higher.

If you want a long-lasting phone, you’ve got to opt for a cheap handset with fewer features. It also makes such devices reliable for more extended periods.

3. Hardier designs

Glass has become one of the most commonly-used materials for smartphones – it adds to a premium-feeling build and looks good from all angles. 

But you know what glass isn’t? Durable. It can easily smash from an impact like a drop. It’s also slippery, making glass phones harder to hold. Because of this, mid-range and premium phones are more susceptible to damage, even if brands slap silly marketing terms on them like ‘Gorilla Glass Victus’ or ‘Ceramic Shield’.

Cheap phone makers generally stay away from glass. This is mainly because of cost, but it’s beneficial for affordable phone fans because plastic is hardier.

A plastic phone is much more likely to survive a drop or hard knock, letting you avoid the experience of having to get your device repaired as often (or ever, hopefully).

Realme 9 Pro Plus

The Realme 9 Pro Plus has a cool-looking, yet plastic, rear. (Image credit: Future)

4. Cooler chipsets

Cheap phones often have cooler chipsets. No, we don’t mean ‘sunglasses and Tommy Bahama shirt cool’ – we mean temperature-wise.

Premium phones get top-end chipsets, which provide loads of processing power for tasks like games. An annoying side-effect of loads of power, though, is that these chips can get incredibly hot if you use them for long periods.

Counter-intuitively, this means that mid-range chips can be better for gaming if you like playing for extended amounts of time, and don’t need the most top-end graphics available to you.

As you can imagine, budget phones often have weaker internals, so they generally don’t have overheating issues, and are fine for gaming. Plus, in this day and age, you rarely find phones that are slow, even in the lower-cost market.

5. A bigger range of fingerprint scanners

There’s a trend in the premium phone market towards in-screen fingerprint scanners, where the sensor for unlocking your phone is embedded under the display.

This is a fine way of unlocking your device for some, but if you prefer a back- or side-mounted scanner, you’re mostly out of luck at the top end of the market.

That’s not the case for cheap phones, though: you’ll find those digit sensors all over the place in the lower end of the market. Some phones have them in-screen, others have them on one or both sides of the phone, while plenty have the scanner on the back.

So if you like tapping the rear of your phone to unlock it, or caressing the side of the device, instead of just tapping the screen, budget devices are, in fact, the best phones for you.

Tom Bedford

Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

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We’re in love with this leaked Xbox Elite Series 2 controller design



We’re in love with this leaked Xbox Elite Series 2 controller design
An Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 in white

(Image credit: Nicholas Lugo)

The Xbox Elite Series 2 wireless controller looks like it’s getting a brand new color variant with a White Edition.

The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 has so far only been available in its default black color scheme. But a short clip shared on Twitter (opens in new tab) by leaker Rebs Gaming shows off a new white edition in the flesh.

The clip starts by showing the premium Xbox Series X|S controller’s box. Next, we’re given a look at the controller itself, which wears a clean white-on-black coat.

All the usual Elite Controller bells and whistles are accounted for. That includes the carry case, swappable analog sticks and customizable back paddle buttons. It looks like the genuine article, though we’ve heard nothing from Microsoft to confirm if or when the pad will actually be released.

A sign of pads to come?

Leak: I think this is our first footage of the Xbox Elite Series 2 White Edition controller. A leaked image of the controller was shown by @IdleSloth84 back in March. Source: https://t.co/WfMCEk3FQv#Xbox #XboxOne #XboxSeriesX pic.twitter.com/t97qbaNPCuAugust 8, 2022

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Okay, sure, the White Edition isn’t exactly the most daring design Microsoft could’ve chosen for its Elite pad. But it’s nonetheless eye-catching. I think that keeping certain parts of the controller black – like the sticks and grips – is a smart aesthetic choice. They contrast really nicely with the white center.

The Elite Series 2 is an excellent controller. But it’s lacking the one thing that the regular Xbox Wireless Controller has in abundance: color options. We’ve seen countless bold designs for the standard Xbox controller, including an eye-popping special edition for Forza Horizon 5 and a stunning hot pink design. But the Elite hasn’t really had the same treatment yet.

I hope that this new White Edition not only comes to market, but that it’s also a gateway for more ambitious designs for Xbox’s top pad. Seriously, a purple Elite pad would be an instant buy for me, and probably for many others, too.

Rhys Wood

Rhys is Hardware Writer for TechRadar Gaming, and while relatively fresh to the role, he’s been writing in a professional capacity for years. A Media, Writing and Production graduate, Rhys has prior experience creating written content for app developers, IT firms, toy sellers and the main TechRadar site. His true passions, though, lie in video games, TV, audio and home entertainment. When Rhys isn’t on the clock, you’ll usually find him logged into Final Fantasy 14, Halo Infinite or Sea of Thieves.

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Street Fighter 6 is bringing the ‘80s (and feet) back



Street Fighter 6 is bringing the ‘80s (and feet) back

Here come some new challengers. At the end of EVO 2022’s Street Fighter V tournament, Capcom revealed two more characters coming to the roster of Street Fighter 6: Juri, the “I can fix her” returning fighter, and newcomer Kimberly, an ‘80s-obsessed teen.

Kimberly, the spunky new ninja, and Juri, the sadistic thrill-seeker, join #StreetFighter6 when it arrives in 2023! Spray cans, a portable cassette player, and motorcyles have never looked more fresh. ️ pic.twitter.com/Lnw87p27aP

— Street Fighter (@StreetFighter) August 8, 2022

Student of Guy and successor to the bushinryu tradition, Kimberly is spunky and colorful with an affinity for spray painting her enemies midmatch. Though Kimberly is a teenager and Street Fighter 6 seems to be set in the current day, she’s enamored with all things ‘80s, carrying around a cassette player that some younger players probably won’t even recognize.

It’s like Capcom is aware that, in addition to its younger audience, there’s a certain subset of older Street Fighter players rising from their creaking knees and aching back looking at the ‘80s with fondness. In that way, Kimberly is a send-up, a reminder of simpler times. In other ways, she’s a very rude reminder that those happy days are so far behind us now that current teenagers are adopting the aesthetic because it’s quaintly “retro.” Thanks, Capcom, for reminding me I’m old.

Accompanying Kimberly in the character reveal is Juri, a character first introduced in Street Fighter IV. Juri arrives in flashy style with an homage to the Akira slide that’s been having a moment lately, as it was also used to awesome effect in Jordan Peele’s Nope. Juri seems a bit edgier than Kimberly, stomping all over her enemies in bare feet emphasized in ways that would make Bob Odenkirk click “like.” It’s always neat when companies seemingly embrace the thirst players have for its characters.

We’ll get the chance to see more of Juri and Kimberly’s stories when Street Fighter 6 launches on Xbox, PC, and PlayStation in 2023.

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