It’s impossible to overstate the importance of data pipelines for modern organizations. These powerful tools enable businesses to extract, transform, and load large amounts of data from various sources, making it possible to process and move data quickly and efficiently. By building a data pipeline that scales and performs well, businesses can unlock valuable insights from their data and make informed, data-driven decisions.

However, building and maintaining a data pipeline can be complex and time-consuming, especially for organizations unfamiliar with the tools and technologies involved. In this article, we’ll explore the key considerations for building a data pipeline that scales, and we’ll offer tips and best practices for optimizing your pipeline to meet the changing needs of your organization.

What is a big data pipeline?

A big data pipeline is a subset of an ETL (extract, transform, load) solution used to process and move large amounts of structured and unstructured data from one place to another. It allows you to extract data from sources like databases, applications, and files and transform it into a format that can be easily analyzed and used by different systems or tools. 

There are two main big data pipeline architectures: real-time and batch streaming.
Real-time big data pipelines continuously collect and process data in near real-time, making it available for immediate use and analysis. This is useful for scenarios where you need to track and analyze data as it is generated, such as fraud detection or customer behavior analysis.

Data Pipeline Archiotecture

Batch streaming big data pipelines collect and process data in pre-determined intervals, typically in a time- or size-based manner. The ideal use case for batch streaming is in scenarios where you don’t need immediate access to the data, such as in data warehousing or reporting.

Big Data Use Cases

Big data pipelines can also be used in many industries, including government, education, transportation, energy and more. In general, organizations can use big data pipelines in any scenario where large amounts of data need to be processed, analyzed, and acted upon in real-time. Here are some use cases for big data:


A big data pipeline might be used to track and analyze market trends, such as stock prices, interest rates, and currency exchange rates. The finance industry collects this data from financial news websites, trading platforms, and regulatory agencies, then transforms and cleans it using transformation logic such as filtering, aggregation, and formatting. Finally, financial organizations load the data into a data warehouse or analytics platform, where it can be used to perform risk assessments, generate reports and comply with regulatory requirements.

Big Data Use Cases


A big data pipeline can positively impact the healthcare industry by analyzing patient data from multiple sources, such as electronic medical records, wearable devices, and clinical trials. Similarly to the finance industry, healthcare organizations clean the data using de-identification, data type conversion, and data cleansing techniques before they can use it to identify patterns and trends, predict outcomes and inform treatment decisions.


Retail businesses hugely benefit from big data pipelines. The data that the retail industry gathers from website traffic, social media, point-of-sale systems, and more can be used for sales, marketing, and business operations. For example, marketing teams using customer data might provide personalized shopper recommendations to optimize their campaigns. 


Machine data like sensors and logs provide vital insights into optimizing production processes. The data can identify patterns and trends, predict maintenance needs, and optimize production schedules.

6 Key Components of a Data Pipeline

A typical big data pipeline consists of the following components:

  1. Data sources: The data, which can be structured, unstructured, or semi-structured. Examples of data sources include databases, files, logs, sensors, and APIs.
  2. Data connectors: The tools and technologies used to connect to and extract data from various sources. E.g., JDBC drivers, ODBC drivers, REST APIs, and file transfer protocols.
  3. Data transformation logic: The logic applied to the data to clean, filter, aggregate, and enrich it. You can implement this logic using a variety of programming languages, such as SQL, Python, or Java.
  4. Data pipeline runtime: The infrastructure that runs the data pipeline, such as a server, cluster, or cloud platform. The runtime can be on-premises or in the cloud, and it can be scaled up or down to meet the needs of the pipeline.
  5. Data targets: The destination of the data, which can be a data warehouse, data lake, analytics platform, or any other type of data storage or processing system.
  6. Data monitoring and management: The process of monitoring the performance and quality of the data pipeline, including error handling, debugging, and optimization. You can do this using dashboards, alerts, and logs.
Data Pipeline: Extract, Transform, Load

7 Essential Tips to Build Big Data Pipeline that Scales

1. Set Clear Goals and Requirements

Before building a big data pipeline, it is essential to clearly understand what you want to achieve and your specific requirements. Planning will help you design the pipeline to meet your needs and align with your business objectives.

2. Choose the Right Data Connectors

The data connectors you use are vital when building a big data pipeline. You can choose connectors that are reliable, scalable, and capable of handling the data sources and targets you are using. Taking the time to carefully consider your connector options upfront will pay off in the long run, helping you avoid headaches and setbacks down the line.

3. Use Transformation Logic Wisely

The transformation logic you use in your pipeline can greatly impact its performance and scalability. To select the right logic for the job, you might consider combining batch and stream processing to optimize performance. By carefully selecting your transformation logic and using it wisely, you can help ensure that your pipeline runs smoothly and efficiently.

4. Choose the Right Runtime Platform

When selecting a runtime platform for your big data pipeline, there are several factors to consider. You may need to weigh each option’s cost, performance, security, and availability.

5. Monitor and Optimize Your Pipeline

Continuous monitoring and optimization of your pipeline are key to ensuring it performs at its best. 

6. Secure Your Data

Security is central to building a big data pipeline, particularly when handling sensitive or regulated data. Implementing measures such as encryption, authentication, and access controls are essential to protect your data and ensure compliance. 

7. Consider a Helping Hand

Building and maintaining a big data pipeline can be complex and time-consuming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the tools and technologies involved. One option to consider is using an end-to-end data integration and streaming platform, such as Equalum, to streamline the process and reduce the workload on your team. Managed solutions like Equalum offer a range of features and benefits, including CDC capabilities, real-time streaming, and scalability, to help you get the most out of your data. If your team is concerned that collecting, cleaning, and transforming large amounts of data will negatively affect productivity, Equalum might be able to give you a helping hand.

Build Scalable Big Data Pipelines For Future Business Growth

Whether you are a marketing team hoping to unlock customer insights, a finance company tracking stock fluctuations, or a retail business monitoring inventory levels, big data pipelines can help you gain real-time visibility over your data and maximize its business value. 

Don’t let the complexities of building and maintaining a big data pipeline hold you back. Let Equalum help you get the most out of your data.  Our advanced CDC capabilities enable real-time streaming and data replication in minutes, so you can ingest, transform, and deliver your data in real-time.
Try Equalum today and see for yourself.