AWS Big Data Blog

AWS Lake Formation 2022 year in review

Data governance is the collection of policies, processes, and systems that organizations use to ensure the quality and appropriate handling of their data throughout its lifecycle for the purpose of generating business value. Data governance is increasingly top-of-mind for customers as they recognize data as one of their most important assets. Effective data governance enables better decision-making by improving data quality, reducing data management costs, and ensuring secure access to data for stakeholders. In addition, data governance is required to comply with an increasingly complex regulatory environment with data privacy (such as GDPR and CCPA) and data residency regulations (such as in the EU, Russia, and China).

For AWS customers, effective data governance improves decision-making, increases business agility, provides a competitive advantage, and reduces the risk of fines due to non-compliance with regulatory obligations. We understand the unique opportunity to provide our customers a comprehensive end-to-end data governance solution that is seamlessly integrated into our portfolio of services, and AWS Lake Formation and the AWS Glue Data Catalog are key to solving these challenges.

In this post, we are excited to summarize the features that the AWS Glue Data Catalog, AWS Glue crawler, and Lake Formation teams delivered in 2022. We have collected some of the key talks and solutions on data governance, data mesh, and modern data architecture published and presented in AWS re:Invent 2022, and a few data lake solutions built by customers and AWS Partners for easy reference. Whether you are a data platform builder, data engineer, data scientist, or any technology leader interested in data lake solutions, this post is for you.

To learn more about how customers are securing and sharing data with Lake Formation, we recommend going deeper into GoDaddy’s decentralized data mesh, Novo Nordisk’s modern data architecture, and JPMorgan’s improvements to their Federated Data Lake, a governed data mesh implementation using Lake Formation. Also, you can learn how AWS Partners integrated with Lake Formation to help customers build unique data lakes, in Starburst’s data mesh solution, Informatica’s automated data sharing solution, Ahana’s Presto integration with Lake Formation, Ascending’s custom data governance system, how PBS used machine learning on their data lakes, and how hc1 provides personalized health insights for customers.

You can review how Lake Formation is used by customers to build modern data architectures in the following re:Invent 2022 talks:

The Lake Formation team listened to customer feedback and made improvements in the areas of cross-account data governance, expanding the source of data lakes, enabling unified data governance of a business data catalog, making secure business-to-business data sharing possible, and expanding the coverage area for fine-grained access controls to Amazon Redshift. In the rest of this post, we are happy to share the progress we made in 2022.

Enhancing cross-account governance

Lake Formation provides the foundation for customers to share data across accounts within their organization. You can share AWS Glue Data Catalog resources to AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) principals within an account as well as other AWS accounts using two methods. The first one is called the named-resource method, where users can select the names of databases and tables and choose the type of permissions to share. The second method uses LF-Tags, where users can create and associate LF-Tags to databases and tables and grant permission to IAM principals using LF-Tag policies and expressions.

In November 2022, Lake Formation introduced version 3 of its cross-account sharing feature. With this new version, Lake Formation users can share catalog resources using LF-Tags at the AWS Organizations level. Sharing data using LF-tags helps scale permissions and reduces the admin work for data lake builders. The cross-account sharing version 3 also allows you to share resources to specific IAM principals in other accounts, providing data owners control over who can access their data in other accounts. Lastly, we have removed the overhead of writing and maintaining Data Catalog resource policies by introducing AWS Resource Access Manager (AWS RAM) invites with LF-Tags-based policies in the cross-account sharing version 3. We encourage you to further explore cross-account sharing in Lake Formation.

Extending Lake Formation permissions to new data

Until re:Invent 2022, Lake Formation provided permissions management for IAM principals on Data Catalog resources with underlying data primarily on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). At re:Invent 2022, we introduced Lake Formation permissions management for Amazon Redshift data shares in preview mode. Amazon Redshift is a fully-managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse service in the AWS Cloud. The data sharing feature allows data owners to group databases, tables, and views in an Amazon Redshift cluster and share it with other Amazon Redshift clusters within or across AWS accounts. Data sharing reduces the need to keep multiple copies of the same data in different data warehouses to accelerate business decision-making across an organization. Lake Formation further enhances sharing data within Amazon Redshift data shares by providing fine-grained access control on tables and views.

For additional details on this feature, refer to AWS Lake Formation-managed Redshift datashares (preview) and How Redshift data share can be managed by Lake Formation.

Amazon EMR is a managed cluster platform to run big data applications using Apache Spark, Apache Hive, Apache HBase, Apache Flink, Apache Hudi, and Presto at scale. You can use Amazon EMR to run batch and stream processing analytics jobs on your S3 data lakes. Starting with Amazon EMR release 6.7.0, we introduced Lake Formation permissions management on a runtime IAM role used with the EMR Steps API. This feature enables you to submit Apache Spark and Apache Hive applications to an EMR cluster through the EMR Steps API that enforces table-level and column-level permissions using Lake Formation to that IAM role submitting the application. This Lake Formation integration with Amazon EMR allows you to share an EMR cluster across multiple users in an organization with different permissions by isolating your applications through a runtime IAM role. We encourage you to check this feature in the Lake Formation workshop Integration with Amazon EMR using Runtime Roles. To explore a use case, see Introducing runtime roles for Amazon EMR steps: Use IAM roles and AWS Lake Formation for access control with Amazon EMR.

Amazon SageMaker Studio is a fully integrated development environment (IDE) for machine learning (ML) that enables data scientists and developers to prepare data for building, training, tuning, and deploying models. Studio offers a native integration with Amazon EMR so that data scientists and data engineers can interactively prepare data at petabyte scale using open-source frameworks such as Apache Spark, Presto, and Hive using Studio notebooks. With the release of Lake Formation permissions management on a runtime IAM role, Studio now supports table-level and column-level access with Lake Formation. When users connect to EMR clusters from Studio notebooks, they can choose the IAM role (called the runtime IAM role) that they want to connect with. If data access is managed by Lake Formation, users can enforce table-level and column-level permissions using policies attached to the runtime role. For more details, refer to Apply fine-grained data access controls with AWS Lake Formation and Amazon EMR from Amazon SageMaker Studio.

Ingest and catalog varied data

A robust data governance model includes data from an organization’s many data sources and methods to discover and catalog those varied data assets. AWS Glue crawlers provide the ability to discover data from sources including Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, and NoSQL databases, and populate the AWS Glue Data Catalog.

In 2022, we launched AWS Glue crawler support for Snowflake and AWS Glue crawler support for Delta Lake tables. These integrations allow AWS Glue crawlers to create and update Data Catalog tables based on these popular data sources. This makes it even easier to create extract, transform, and load (ETL) jobs with AWS Glue based on these Data Catalog tables as sources and targets.

In 2022, the AWS Glue crawlers UI was redesigned to offer a better user experience. One of the main enhancements delivered as part of this revision is the greater insights into AWS Glue crawler history. The crawler history UI provides an easy view of crawler runs, schedules, data sources, and tags. For each crawl, the crawler history offers a summary of changes in the database schema or Amazon S3 partition changes. Crawler history also provides detailed info about DPU hours and reduces the time spent analyzing and debugging crawler operations and costs. To explore the new functionalities added to the crawlers UI, refer to Set up and monitor AWS Glue crawlers using the enhanced AWS Glue UI and crawler history.

In 2022, we also extended support for crawlers based on Amazon S3 event notifications to support catalog tables. With this feature, incremental crawling can be offloaded from data pipelines to the scheduled AWS Glue crawler, reducing crawls to incremental S3 events. For more information, refer to Build incremental crawls of data lakes with existing Glue catalog tables.

More ways to share data beyond the data lake

During re:Invent 2022, we announced a preview of AWS Data Exchange for AWS Lake Formation, a new feature that enables data subscribers to find and subscribe to third-party datasets that are managed directly through Lake Formation. Until now, AWS Data Exchange subscribers could access third-party datasets by exporting providers’ files to their own S3 buckets, calling providers’ APIs through Amazon API Gateway, or querying producers’ Amazon Redshift data shares from their Amazon Redshift cluster. With the new Lake Formation integration, data providers curate AWS Data Exchange datasets using Lake Formation tags. Data subscribers are able to query and explore the databases and tables associated with those tags, just like any other AWS Glue Data Catalog resource. Organizations can apply resource-based Lake Formation permissions to share the licensed datasets within the same account or across accounts using AWS License Manager. AWS Data Exchange for Lake Formation streamlines data licensing and sharing operations by accelerating data onboarding, reducing the amount of ETL required for end-users to access third-party data, and centralizing governance and access controls for third-party data.

At re:Invent 2022, we also announced Amazon DataZone, a new data management service that makes it faster and easier for you to catalog, discover, share, and govern data stored across AWS, on-premises, and third-party sources. Amazon DataZone is a business data catalog service that supplements the technical metadata in the AWS Glue Data Catalog. Amazon DataZone is integrated with Lake Formation permissions management so that you can effectively manage and govern access to your data, and audit who is accessing what data and for what purpose. With the publisher-subscriber model of Amazon DataZone, data assets can be shared and accessed across Regions. For additional details about the service and its capabilities, refer to the Amazon DataZone FAQs and re:Invent launch.


Data is transforming every field and every business. However, with data growing faster than most companies can keep track of, collecting, securing, and getting value out of that data is a challenging thing to do. A modern data strategy can help you create better business outcomes with data. AWS provides the most complete set of services for the end-to-end data journey to help you unlock value from your data and turn it into insight.

At AWS, we work backward from customer requirements. From the Lake Formation team, we worked hard to deliver the features described in this post, and we invite you to check them out. With our continued focus to invent, we hope to play a key role in empowering organizations to build new data governance models that help you derive more business value at lightning speed.

You can get started with Lake Formation by exploring our hands-on workshop modules and Getting started tutorials. We look forward to hearing from you, our customers, on your data lake and data governance use cases. Please get in touch through your AWS account team and share your comments.

About the Authors

Jason Berkowitz is a Senior Product Manager with AWS Lake Formation. He comes from a background in machine learning and data lake architectures. He helps customers become data-driven.

Aarthi Srinivasan is a Senior Big Data Architect with AWS Lake Formation. She enjoys building data lake solutions for AWS customers and partners. When not on the keyboard, she explores the latest science and technology trends and spends time with her family.

Leonardo Gómez is a Senior Analytics Specialist Solutions Architect at AWS. Based in Toronto, Canada, he has over a decade of experience in data management, helping customers around the globe address their business and technical needs.