The ever-evolving world of data management has found a pioneering solution in the Data Vault 2.0 framework. This advancement from the original Data Vault model offers innovative techniques, fully equipped to navigate the complexities of the contemporary data environment. As the demand for sophisticated analytics and governance surges, Data Vault 2.0 employs state-of-the-art technologies to meet and exceed expectations.

At the heart of Data Vault 2.0 lies the intricate synergy with dbt (data build tool). This robust platform enables stakeholders to collectively refine raw data into actionable insights. Dive into this comprehensive guide as we demystify the foundational principles of Data Vault 2.0 and explore its symbiotic connection with dbt. By delving into real-world scenarios, we spotlight how this framework is revolutionizing data architecture and promoting data-driven decision-making.

Embark on this series of two articles to discover Data Vault 2.0 and its concrete application with dbt. Whether you’re a seasoned data expert or a strategic business professional, this article is your compass to navigating the next frontier in data management and analytics.

Part 1 will introduce concepts and set the foundations for part 2 that will deep dive into a concrete implementation of data vault 2.0 with dbt.

What is Data Vault 2.0

Emerging from the foundational principles of the original Data Vault, Data Vault 2.0 represents a refined and enhanced methodology tailored to navigate the intricate maze of contemporary data ecosystems. While preserving the bedrock concepts of the original, this updated model weaves in progressive elements that respond directly to the imperatives of agile analytics, scalability, and governance.

Pillars of Data Vault 2.0

  • Adaptable Architecture: One of the standout features of Data Vault 2.0 is its innate ability to scale. It is primed to handle the burgeoning flow of data from a myriad of sources, with a structure flexible enough to integrate both structured and unstructured data, mirroring the multifaceted needs of today’s businesses.

  • Agility in Practice: Rooted in agile development principles, the framework empowers teams to rapidly adapt and refine data models in response to shifting business landscapes. Its modular design encourages incremental modifications, ensuring smooth transitions and adaptability.

  • Business Semantics: Data Vault 2.0 champions the clear demarcation between business semantics and technical underpinnings. This not only amplifies collaboration between technical and business teams but also fosters precise communication, preserving data integrity and consistency.

  • Data Governance: Anchoring Data Vault 2.0’s design are the pillars of data lineage, quality, and traceability. The model is meticulously crafted to meet the rigors of data governance standards, laying a trustworthy groundwork for auditable data operations.

Key Components of Data Vault 2.0

Data Vault representation

The sophistication of Data Vault 2.0’s structure is characterized by three principal objects: Hubs, Satellites, and Links. Together, these components craft a robust, adaptable, and governable data infrastructure.

Hubs: The Central Pillars

Acting as the foundational business entities, Hubs encapsulate unique business keys, serving as singular reference points for consistent identification throughout the data environment. Their dedication to storing only unique business keys ensures minimized redundancy, championing a unified data perspective while upholding the integrity of the data.

Satellites: Time-Capsules of Data Attributes

Satellites orbit around a Hub, housing the descriptive details linked to its business key and capturing the evolution of these attributes over time. They are the archives of data history, offering a granular look-back capability that proves indispensable for analytical endeavors, trend spotting, and regulatory compliance.

Links: The Connective Tissue

Links act as bridges, forging relationships between Hubs and setting the stage for intricate data interconnections. By amalgamating business keys from associated Hubs, Links are adept at representing a myriad of relationships — be it hierarchical structures, transactional links, or other intricate connections. Their adaptability paves the way for profound analytical insights that traverse various business domains.

When unified, the trinity of Hubs, Satellites, and Links becomes the heartbeat of the Data Vault 2.0 design. Organizations leveraging these elements judiciously can sculpt a data foundation echoing the ethos of scalability, nimbleness, and governance. In our subsequent segment, we’ll delve into how dbt dovetails with these elements, supercharging the transformation of raw data into meaningful insights within the Data Vault 2.0 paradigm.

Why do you need Data Vault 2.0

In today’s fast-paced data world, with the ever-growing amount and types of data, it’s clear that we need stronger and more flexible ways to handle it all. In today’s fast-paced data environment, the constantly increasing volume and variety of data demand solutions that can adapt to frequent schema changes and prioritize historical data preservation. Data Vault 2.0 meets these needs effectively, making it an ideal choice for big data projects. However, it’s essential to note that Data Vault 2.0 might be an overkill for smaller projects. Therefore, organizations should weigh the pros and cons before committing to a Data Vault 2.0 initiative.

Sharp Data Management

Data Vault 2.0 takes data modeling up a notch. It’s really good at detailing the different parts of a business, like main items (Hubs), their details (Satellites), and how they relate (Links). This means better data accuracy and an easy way to track changes — perfect for companies wanting a clear and detailed view of their data.

Ready for Growth

Some might think Data Vault 2.0 is too much for small datasets. However, for companies dealing with lots of data from different places and in different forms, it’s a lifesaver. With its flexible design, as your data grows, Data Vault 2.0 grows with you, without the headache of big changes.

Keeping Track and Staying Compliant

Large companies looking for a way to keep a detailed record of their data over time will love Data Vault 2.0. With its ability to remember changes (thanks to Satellites) and its detailed design, companies can easily meet rules and regulations, and can see how data has changed over the years.

Teamwork and Quick Changes

Data Vault 2.0 makes it easier for tech folks and business teams to work together. With clear definitions and designs, everyone is on the same page about data. Plus, its design is flexible, so it can quickly adapt to any changes in business needs, making sure data always matches what the company wants.

To wrap up, Data Vault 2.0 is like a guiding star in the data world. It’s a strong solution for businesses wanting to manage, scale, and oversee their data properly. While it might not be for everyone, big companies wanting to have a clear, adaptable data setup while meeting the rules and challenges of data management will find Data Vault 2.0 a smart choice.

Harnessing the Power of Modern Data Tools: dbt & BigQuery

In the contemporary era of data management, the synergy between potent tools can amplify efficiency and output quality. Merging dbt with Google’s BigQuery, particularly when implementing Data Vault 2.0, epitomises this principle. Let’s explore their collaborative prowess in optimizing data processes.

dbt & BigQuery: Symbiosis in Data Operations

Central to its design, dbt refines raw data into formats primed for analytics. When integrated with BigQuery — a serverless, scalable, and cost-efficient multi-cloud data warehouse — the capabilities of dbt truly expand. Here’s the synergy unpacked:

  • Speed & Scalability: BigQuery’s architecture is designed to rapidly process massive datasets. By using dbt to structure Data Vault 2.0 elements like Hubs, Satellites, and Links, BigQuery guarantees swift processing, irrespective of data volume.

  • SQL-Centric Operations: Both dbt and BigQuery operate in an SQL environment, allowing data specialists to employ familiar SQL functionalities, ensuring smooth interplay between the two platforms.

  • Cost-Effective Analytics: Thanks to BigQuery’s pay-as-you-go model and the efficiencies offered by dbt’s transformations, intricate Data Vault 2.0 analytics become more financially accessible.

Decoding dbt Packages: datavault4dbt vs. AutomateDV

Amidst the evolving landscape of dbt packages fine-tuned for Data Vault 2.0, both Scalefree’s datavault4dbt and AutomateDV stand out. Each carries its unique essence and strengths.

datavault4dbt: Known for its flexibility and adaptability, this package champions a modular and configuration-centric approach to Data Vault modeling within dbt. It harmonizes effortlessly with diverse platforms, underscoring its adaptability.

AutomateDV: Oriented around automation, AutomateDV minimizes manual interactions. By simplifying many of Data Vault 2.0’s technical nuances, it allows professionals to prioritize data strategy. Its repertoire of predefined macros fine-tuned for Data Vault 2.0 facilitates smoother implementations.

In essence, the core macros and foundational elements of datavault4dbt and AutomateDV within the dbt ecosystem are remarkably similar, leading to nearly identical results. The primary distinctions are mainly cosmetic. To summarize, while both packages operate on much the same principles, datavault4dbt appeals to teams seeking granular control, and AutomateDV is optimized for teams preferring swift deployments with minimal bespoke coding.

Collaborative Fluidity and Rapid Development

Uniting dbt, AutomateDV, and BigQuery doesn’t just demystify Data Vault 2.0’s complexities; it fosters team collaboration. Within the cohesive ecosystem that BigQuery offers, data teams can swiftly fine-tune models, validate alterations, and roll them out.

The cohesive integration of dbt, AutomateDV, and BigQuery has revolutionized the intricacies of Data Vault 2.0 deployment. Organizations, leveraging this trio, are positioned to derive insights more swiftly, promote team collaboration, and enhance their overall data management strategy.

Design and ERD before implementation

Example of a Data Vault ERD (Source: Wikipedia)

When working with data, it’s like building a house — you need a solid plan and blueprint before you start building. This is true even when using Data Vault 2.0 with dbt. Before diving into the deep end of changing raw data into useful information, it’s crucial to plan and sketch out your ideas. This plan takes shape as an Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD). Think of the ERD as a map for data experts as they use dbt to create the Data Vault 2.0 setup.

Mapping Out Data Goals

Every data project has goals — specific insights that help businesses make smart choices. But before starting the heavy lifting, teams need a clear picture of these goals. By brainstorming together, they can outline the desired insights, see how they connect, and figure out the details that make each insight valuable.

Drawing the Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD)

The ERD is like a detailed sketch of your data project. It shows the main data points (Hubs), the details about them (Satellites), and how they link up (Links). It’s a common language that helps both tech experts and business folks understand what’s going on and what’s planned.

Using ERD for dbt Work

When data experts move from planning to doing, the ERD becomes their main tool. Using it, they can tap into dbt’s tools to set up the Data Vault 2.0 system. The ERD ensures that the data structures they build with dbt match the original plan and deliver the needed results.

Teamwork and Getting It Right

Sketching out the design and ERD isn’t just a task for tech experts. It’s a group effort. Tech teams and business teams work hand in hand to make sure the data project meets the company’s needs. This teamwork ensures the final results are not only accurate but also useful, leading to insights that truly help the business.

Recommended ERD Tools

Understanding the schema and relationships in a Data Vault implementation is crucial for ensuring that your data warehouse architecture is sound, scalable, and easily interpretable. An Entity-Relationship Diagram (ERD) plays a pivotal role in offering a visual representation of the logical structure of a database. Given the unique complexities of Data Vault 2.0, picking the right tools for ERD creation is essential.

Below are some recommended tools that can be effectively used to create ERDs for Data Vault:

  • ER/Studio Data Architect

Strengths: Comprehensive data modeling capabilities, multi-platform data architecture, and a user-friendly interface.
Features: Provides forward and reverse engineering capabilities, and offers collaborative model management.
Best for: Large enterprises looking for robust data modeling tools with a focus on collaboration.

  • Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler

Strengths: Integrates with Oracle’s suite of database products and offers a comprehensive range of data modeling tools.
Features: Logical, relational, physical, multi-dimensional, and data type modeling.
Best for: Oracle-centric businesses or those that require in-depth data modeling capabilities.

  • Microsoft Visio

Strengths: Easy to use and integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft products.
Features: Not specifically a data modeling tool but offers a range of diagramming tools suitable for creating ERDs.
Best for: Businesses already entrenched in the Microsoft ecosystem or for simpler ERD needs.

  • Lucidchart

Strengths: Web-based tool with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, making it accessible from anywhere.
Features: Collaboration capabilities, revision history, and a variety of templates, including those for ERDs.
Best for: Teams looking for a cloud-based solution with real-time collaboration.

  • (now

Strengths: Free, web-based, and offers a broad range of diagramming tools.
Features: Integration with cloud storage providers, easy export/import options, and a user-friendly interface.
Best for: Small to medium-sized businesses or individual professionals looking for a cost-effective solution.

What you should consider when selecting an ERD tool for Data Vault:

Complexity: Data Vault’s architecture, with its Hubs, Links, and Satellites, can get complex. Your tool should be adept at handling this intricacy without making the visualization chaotic.

Scalability: As your Data Vault grows, your ERD tool should be able to scale accordingly without loss of performance.

Integration: Consider how well the tool integrates with other systems, especially with dbt and BigQuery if that’s your stack.

Collaboration: Data Vault projects often involve multiple stakeholders. Tools that allow for collaborative editing and commenting can streamline the modeling process.

Cost: While some tools come with a hefty price tag, they also offer advanced features. Balance your budget against your needs.

ERD tools play an essential role in visualizing and understanding the relationships and structures within your Data Vault implementation. The right tool can offer clarity, foster collaboration, and ensure the sound architectural design of your data warehouse. As always, take time to evaluate your specific needs and constraints before settling on a tool.


The digital era we’re navigating is brimming with data, presenting both opportunities and challenges for businesses. As we’ve explored, Data Vault 2.0 emerges as a beacon in this vast data ocean, offering a structured, scalable, and agile approach to managing complex data landscapes. Paired with the prowess of dbt, the framework simplifies what might otherwise be a daunting process, transforming intricate details into streamlined workflows and actionable insights.

Planning, as evidenced by the importance of preliminary design, is not just a preliminary step but a continuous backbone of successful data transformation. It ensures that all stakeholders, from technical experts to business leaders, share a unified vision, fostering collaboration and ensuring that the data transformation aligns with organizational goals.

The future of data is undeniably complex, but with tools like Data Vault 2.0 and dbt, and a clear roadmap in the form of ERD, businesses are better equipped to harness the potential of their data. As we stand on the brink of further data-driven innovations, the combination of strategic planning, advanced frameworks, and collaborative tools will be paramount in guiding businesses to informed decisions and transformative success.

If you are thrilled about Data Vault 2.0 concepts, do not hesitate to jump straight into part 2 of this article where we deep dive into a real case implementation of Data Vault 2.0 with dbt, BigQuery and Airflow.

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