Responsys to Databricks

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Responsys and load it into Delta Lake on Databricks. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is Responsys?

Oracle Responsys, a component of Oracle Marketing Cloud, lets organizations manage and orchestrate marketing campaigns and interactions with customers across email, mobile, social, display, and the web. Responsys provides cross-channel orchestration of customer touchpoints using the medium(s) customers prefer.

What is Delta Lake?

Delta Lake is an open source storage layer that sits on top of existing data lake file storage, such AWS S3, Azure Data Lake Storage, or HDFS. It uses versioned Apache Parquet files to store data, and a transaction log to keep track of commits, to provide capabilities like ACID transactions, data versioning, and audit history.

Getting data out of Responsys

Responsys has a REST API that you can use to get at information stored in the platform. For example, to retrieve an email or push campaign schedule, you would call GET /rest/api/v1.3/campaigns/{campaignName}/schedule/{scheduleId}.

Sample Responsys data

Here's an example of the kind of response you might see with a query like the one above.

{
    "id": 1491,
    "scheduleType": "ONCE",
    "scheduledTime": "2019-01-25 06:00 AM",
    "launchOptions": {
        "proofLaunch": true,
        "proofLaunchEmail": "someemail@a.com",
        "proofLaunchType": "LAUNCH_TO_ADDRESS",
        "recipientLimit": 3,
        "samplingNthSelection": 1,
        "samplingNthOffset": 1,
        "samplingNthInterval": 1,
        "progressEmailAddresses": [
            "email1@a.com",
            "email2@a.com"
        ],
        "progressChunk": "CHUNK_10K",
        "links": [
            {
                "rel": "self",
                "href": "/rest/api/v1.3/campaigns/test/schedule/1491",
                "method": "POST"
            },
            {
                "rel": "createSchedule",
                "href": "/rest/api/v1.3/campaigns/test/schedule",
                "method": "GET"
            },
            {
                "rel": "updateSchedule",
                "href": "rest/api/v1.3/campaigns/test/schedule/1491",
                "method": "PUT"
            },
            {
                "rel": "deleteSchedule",
                "href": "rest/api/v1.3/campaigns/test/schedule/1491",
                "method": "DELETE"
            }
        ]
    }
}

Preparing Responsys data

If you don't already have a data structure in which to store the data you retrieve, you'll have to create a schema for your data tables. Then, for each value in the response, you'll need to identify a predefined datatype (INTEGER, DATETIME, etc.) and build a table that can receive them. Responsys's documentation should tell you what fields are provided by each endpoint, along with their corresponding datatypes.

Complicating things is the fact that the records retrieved from the source may not always be "flat" – some of the objects may actually be lists. In these cases you'll likely have to create additional tables to capture the unpredictable cardinality in each record.

Loading data into Delta Lake on Databricks

To create a Delta table, you can use existing Apache Spark SQL code and change the format from parquet, csv, or json to delta. Once you have a Delta table, you can write data into it using Apache Spark's Structured Streaming API. The Delta Lake transaction log guarantees exactly-once processing, even when there are other streams or batch queries running concurrently against the table. By default, streams run in append mode, which adds new records to the table. Databricks provides quickstart documentation that explains the whole process.

Keeping Responsys data up to date

At this point you've coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and successfully moved it into your data warehouse. But how will you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow and resource-intensive.

Responsys lacks key fields that a script could use to bookmark its progression as it looks for updated data. However, you can create .csv or .txt files as part of a Responsys Connect data export job and use a date/time prefix or suffix in the file names. You could then set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it's exported from Responsys.

Other data warehouse options

Delta Lake on Databricks is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, PostgreSQL, or Snowflake, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. Others choose a data lake, like Amazon S3. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To BigQuery, To Postgres, To Snowflake, To Panoply, and To S3.

Easier and faster alternatives

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.

Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to move data from Responsys to Delta Lake on Databricks automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Responsys data, structuring it in a way that's optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Delta Lake on Databricks data warehouse.