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Ask RBK: Why Do I Need Astronomer?

When the content folks pitched me the idea of becoming Astronomer’s version of “Dear Abby” to answer our MOST frequently asked questions, I couldn’t pass it up. I’ll give all the relationship advice you want! But for now, let’s stick to machines + humans. I’ll start with the question I’ve been asked most frequently over the past few years:

Dear RBK,

I love data, but why do I need Astronomer to get it?

Sincerely, *Gary

*Names may or may not have been changed to protect Gary.
*I once had a ball python named Gary.

Dear Gary,

Let’s start here:

Why People Want to Know Why They Need Astronomer

Nobody’s asking if they need a complete picture of their data. Everyone wants that. All sorts of organizations are using multiple SaaS tools or microservices that each generate ever-compounding volumes of data. Not just Fortune 500 companies, either; everyone. From mom and pop shops to “traditional” astronomers to the NBA.

The thing is, Gary, most of these disparate data sets are unfriendly. They don’t “talk” to each other, which means companies are getting lots of isolated and often outdated snapshots when what they really need is one very informative and actionable body of information. (And you thought this wouldn’t really be about relationships …)

Anyway, Astronomer custom builds the data pipelines necessary to take data from anywhere, to anywhere. And we’re building our platform on open source technology. If you want to know more about why we made this choice, our CTO explains why we turned to open source and eventually settled on Apache Airflow.

But, Gary, this choice causes a lot of people to ask: Can’t I just pull together this open source code and have my internal team create the same thing? In other words: why do I need Astronomer?

Which brings us to…

Why People Need Astronomer

Certainly, any organization with the right resources can move data from APIs, applications, departmental databases and even third-parties into data warehouse, analytics tools or other destinations. Actually, some very large enterprises (e.g. Walmart) already are. When companies aren’t already doing this in-house, though, the reason is (almost) always cost.  

To estimate ROI, let’s consider what’s at stake in either case:

  • Defining project scope, getting approval, building pipelines and implementing a solution internally can take, easily, 6+ months. That’s 6 months of either disrupting your IT team, de-prioritizing your company’s typical workload or hiring and training new people. Also worth noting: more than 50% of all IT projects fail, which means it’s feasible to imagine that those 6 months will have been wasted. Either way, technology changes so rapidly that, in a matter of months, once-cutting edge tech may be old hat or at least less-than-best-in-class. 

OK, Gary, so that picture is bleak. But the truth is, the opportunity cost of these factors—not to mention operating out of your core competency—is tough to quantify. And we haven’t even addressed the effort (monitoring, supporting, updating, etc.) it takes to keep data flowing in real-time, forever.

  • Astronomer, on the other hand, has a living library of connectors and a team of data engineers on deck to custom build whatever is needed and do the hard work of cutting through any red tape involved in extracting the data you need and getting it to flow exactly where you want it. We also offer the benefit of economies of scale, a support team dedicated to monitoring data pipelines and the value of industry-specific insights we’ve gained from being immersed in all things data, 24/7. (Data is our life, Gary!)

By bringing in Astronomer, the time to “first value” is almost immediate, with minimal disruption to your team. The cost (dollars) is set up front, with no marked additional time or opportunity cost to factor in. It’s not a one-time gig, either: we keep close tabs on your pipelines to make sure the data keeps flowing, upgrading the tech to keep it best-of-breed, and deal with any third party hassles, so you don’t have to.  

The Bottom Line

In a nutshell: Our platform and processes make it simple for organizations to use data to power BI, analytics, marketing, data science and machine learning, at a cost we’ll agree upon ahead of time. This saves you time, money and serious headaches—from now until forever. 

On our FAQ page, we spell out a lot of great benefits, like visibility, agility adaptability … don’t get me started (I’m a sales guy, after all). You can check it out here if you’re interested. And if you still have unanswered questions, email me at Make your subject “Ask RBK.”

Don’t miss ”Ask RBK: Tell Me About Google Analytics,” our very first video post!

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