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What is Data Engineering?

What is Data Engineering?
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Every organization deals with a large amount of data. However, to use the data effectively, it has to go through the process of data engineering. It plays a major role in the process of collecting and maintaining the data. Data engineering helps professionals like data analysts and data scientists break down information easily and perform further analysis. Therefore, it has become the most in-demand skill in the IT discipline in recent times.

Let’s discuss the following topics:

Check out this video to understand the key differences between a Data Analyst and a Data Engineer:

Who Is a Data Engineer?

Enterprise data is stored in various formats: databases, text files, or any other storage sources. Data Engineers are the professionals who build pipelines to transform this data into formats that are readable and usable for Data Scientists. They convert the data in such a way that it is suitable for analysis. This pipeline involves taking data from discrete sources and storing it in a single warehouse, where the data will be represented uniformly.

A Data Engineer can be critically termed as the first member of the Data Science team. He/she works with huge amounts of data to maintain the analytics infrastructure, making it suitable for Data Scientists to work on.

To execute all the above tasks, Data Engineers must be highly skilled in SQL, Data Engineering architecture, cloud technologies, frameworks such as Agile, Scrum, etc., and Data Engineering programs, such as Python and Julia.

Data Engineering Definition

Data Engineering is a term that is used for collecting and validating quality data for analyzing it. It is a vast field that employs different modules and steps, such as data infrastructure, data mining, data crunching, data acquisition, data modeling, and data management.

Companies are in dire need of someone who can organize and ensure data availability and its quality to make it secure enough for them to work on. This is where Data Engineers come in. They lay the foundation for the successful initiatives of Data Science practices.

Learn Data Engineering through our Data Science Basics Tutorial designed for beginners for a better understanding of the concept.

Why Is Data Engineering Important

Data engineering is the first step in the process of data analysis and model building. Without well-organized data, analysis cannot be performed. Also, with the advent of Artificial Intelligence, data has become more important than ever. With that being said, collecting and maintaining data have become crucial for any organization. Therefore, data engineering plays a major role in the following tasks:

  1. Collecting data- Collecting and sourcing data from various sources. Various techniques can be used for collecting data such as ethical web scraping, API calling, etc.
  1. Maintaining databases- Databases can be different based on the company you are working for. Examples of databases are MySQL, PostGreSQL, Oracle database, etc.
  1. Preparing data for further analysis- Basic steps of data cleaning and data treatment is performed by a data engineer so that further analysis can be done by data analysts and data scientists.

What Do Data Engineers Do?

Data Engineers maintain the data infrastructure to support business applications. As part of their responsibilities, they fuel Artificial Intelligence analytics and the Machine Learning process.

Various positions held by a Data Engineer are listed below.

  • Data Architects ingest, design, and manage the sources of data essential for business insights to build a Data Engineering architecture. With in-depth knowledge of SQL and XML, they can integrate and organize certain parts of the data management system.
  • Data Engineers are the ones who need to be proficient in programming languages such as Python and Julia. They design, integrate, and prepare the data infrastructure, adhering to all data management norms.
  • Database Administrators (DBAs) design and maintain database systems to ensure that users can access all functions seamlessly. They also optimize the speed of databases and work against workflow interference.

If you are interested in Data Engineer. Then you will be amazed to know their salary in India on Data Engineer Salary in India blog.

Why Does Data Need Processing Through Data Engineering?

The increasingly sophisticated settings that underlie modern data analytics are designed, run, and supported, in large part, by data engineers. In the past, data engineers have meticulously created table structures and indexes for data warehouse schemas that are intended to process queries rapidly and provide sufficient performance. 

Data engineers now have more data to manage and provide to downstream data consumers for analytics due to the growth of data lakes. Data engineers must work with unstructured and unformatted data found in data lakes before the business can use it to its advantage.

Fortunately, a data set may be read and understood more quickly and easily when it has been thoroughly cleaned and formatted using data engineering. Businesses are continuously producing data; therefore, it’s critical to identify software that can automate some of these procedures.

Your data will yield a great deal of information and value when the proper software stack is used, which will build “data pipelines,” or end-to-end routes for the data. The information may undergo several transformations, enrichments, and summaries as it passes through the pipeline.


Roles of a Data Engineer

A Data Engineering career has a long yet worthy path to success. It develops through various roles, as explained below:

Roles of Data EngineerDescription
A Generalist Data EngineerA Generalist Data Engineer is someone who works with a small team. He/she is typically a data-focused person and works on ingesting data to process it for further analysis.
Pipeline-centric Data EngineersPipeline-centric Data Engineers work for mid-sized companies, where they have to deal with a little more complex data needs. They have to work according to the Data Engineering methods in collaboration with Data Scientists to transform the data. Knowledge of computer science and distributed systems is essential for these professionals to execute such analyses.
A Database-centric Data EngineerA Database-centric Data Engineer is someone who sets up and populates analytics databases. He/she works with the pipeline, tuning for quick analysis and designing schemas. These Data Engineers usually work for larger organizations where the data is distributed across several databases.
Roles of a Data Engineer

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Data Engineering Tools for 2024

Data Science projects largely depend on the information infrastructure structured by Data Engineers. They typically implement their pipelines based on the ETL (extract, transform, and load) model. The Data Engineering basics revolve around the typical Data Engineering tools that find their usage in the daily life of a Data Engineer.

  1. Distributed Streaming Platforms: A streaming platform enables you to capture, process, and store data streams in real time. It is a backbone for real-time data pipelines and streaming applications. Examples of distributed streaming platforms are Amazon Kinesis, IBM Streams, Apache Kafka, etc. Knowing these tools can greatly help a data engineer manage data infrastructure.
  1. Databases: Knowing databases is a must-have skill for a data engineer. Examples of databases are MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.
  1. Programming Languages: Having basic to intermediate-level knowledge of programming languages can improve the efficiency of a data engineer. Learning programming languages like Python, R, and C can come in handy.
  1. Cloud Storage: Knowing cloud services like AWS and Azure can add to the skillset of a data engineer.
  1. Big Data Framework: Learning big data technologies can vastly assist a data engineer in dealing with very large datasets. Frameworks like Google BigQuery, Presto, and Apache Hadoop help in storing and processing large amounts of data.

The following table will help you summarize:

Distributed Streaming PlatformsAmazon Kinesis, IBM Streams, Apache Kafka
DatabasesMySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle
Programming LanguagesPython, R,, C
Cloud StorageAWS, Azure, google cloud
Big Data FrameworkGoogle BigQuery, Presto, Apache Hadoop

You can look at our Data Engineering Projects blog to get a better idea about tools used in this domain.

Data Engineer vs. Data Scientist

Data EngineerData Scientist
Data engineers are more concerned with developing data infrastructure.Data scientists are concerned with analyzing data.
They collect data from various sources and maintain large data files.They apply Machine Learning algorithms and perform predictive analysis on the collected data.
Data Engineers use technologies like Bigdata frameworks, Databases, cloud technologies, etc.Data scientists use technologies like Notebook IDEs, Machine Learning, Deep learning, etc.

Have a look at our Database Courses provided by Intellipaat.

Data Engineering Automation

Data engineering automation means automating the data engineering steps like data ingestion and data transformation. Following points help us understand this concept.

  1. The industry of Data Engineering is taking a step forward in automating the data pipeline to confine the process that goes into transforming and collecting data. This methodology, thereby, aids the workload on Data Analytics and Machine Learning.
  2. Initially, we have seen that Data Science has adapted automation to conduct the most repetitive tasks. Now, Agile Data Engineering and DataOps tools are emerging within Data Engineering to handle the repetitive data pipeline work.
  3. Agile Data Engineering is independent of the underlying execution platforms. On the other hand, the field of DataOps includes the techniques of DevOps, such as agility and continuous delivery. This, in turn, is implemented in the different environments of Data Analytics, including data warehouses, data sources, etc. The ultimate goal of automating Data Analytics is to enhance agility and reduce defects.
  4. This automation also addresses Data Engineering and Artificial Intelligence tasks that start with data ingestion, go through shaping the data, and then prepare it for consumption.
  5. For example a retail shop can automate the process of data ingestion by using certain automated scripts to take data from various sources like google analytics, web scrapers and databases, and store it in one data lake

For expert training in data engineering tools, skills, and methodologies, check out the Data Engineering course in association with MITx MicroMasters.

Salary Trends in Data Engineering for 2024

Job RoleAverage Salary in IndiaAverage Salary in the USA
Data EngineerMinimum –3.5 LPAMinimum – 81,368 USD
Average – 10.8 LPAAverage – 127,435 USD
Highest – 21.0 LPAHighest – 199,583 USD

Learn about the difference between Data Engineer and Data Scientist in our blog on Data Engineer vs Data Scientist!

In the case of Data Engineering, AI can take care of repetitive tasks by reducing the number of time-consuming processes in the field. AI models can be used to automate the process of data collection. AI models trained on large datasets can also be used to find anomalies in the data, easing out the process of anomaly detection and data cleaning. AI can be looked at as a dependable tool in the field of data engineering. 

In the coming years of Data Engineering, following are the fields where there is a scope for AI advancement:

  1. Automated Data Pipelines: AI can be used to automate the creation and maintenance of data pipelines, which are essential for moving data from various sources to a data lake.
  1. Intelligent Data Governance: AI models can analyze data sources and use patterns to automatically ensure data quality and data security.
  1. Predictive Maintenance: AI can be used to monitor and optimize data infrastructure and processes. By analyzing historical data and real-time performance metrics, AI models can predict potential failures.

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Data Engineering is all about dealing with the efficiency of data management. Therefore, Data Engineers must frequently update their skill sets to ease the process of leveraging the Data systems. Because of their wide knowledge, Data Engineers can be seen working in collaboration with Database Administrators, Data Scientists, and Data Architects.

Without a doubt, the demand for skilled Data Engineers is growing rapidly. If you are a person who finds excitement in building and tweaking large-scale data systems, then Data Engineering is the best career path for you.

You can refer to this Intellipaat community page to explore more.


What do we mean by data engineering?

In simple words, data engineering can be defined as a department that deals with data collection, data storage, and developing data infrastructure.

Where is data engineering used?

Data engineering is the first step in the field of data science. Data engineering is used to maintain the data, which is later used for analysis.

How much programming is required in data engineering?

Basic-level programming and coding are required for data engineering. Basic knowledge of Python can come in handy.

How will AI affect data engineering jobs?

AI can be looked at as a tool that significantly improves productivity. Think of it this way: as engineers become more productive, their needs spread across industries. The demand for data engineers will exponentially grow in the coming years.

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About the Author

Principal Data Scientist

Meet Akash, a Principal Data Scientist who worked as a Supply Chain professional with expertise in demand planning, inventory management, and network optimization. With a master’s degree from IIT Kanpur, his areas of interest include machine learning and operations research.