This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Braintree Payments and load it into Azure SQL Data Warehouse. (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 Braintree?
Braintree, a service of PayPal, provides a payment platform for businesses that want to support online and mobile users.
What is Azure SQL Data Warehouse?
Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a cloud-based petabyte-scale columnar database service with controls to manage compute and storage resources independently. It offers encryption of data at rest and dynamic data masking to mask sensitive data on the fly, and it integrates with Azure Active Directory. It can replicate to read-only databases in different geographic regions for load balancing and fault tolerance.
Getting data out of Braintree
Braintree exposes data both through webhooks and an API. Using webhooks lets you push data to a defined HTTP endpoint as events happen. Alternatively, you can pull specific data via the API. A key difference is that the API allows you to retrieve historical data instead of just new data.
The Braintree API lets you get information on things like customer information, payments, and individual transactions. If you wanted information on transactions, for example, you could write code to call the API using SDKs for Java, .NET, Node.js, PHP, Python, and Ruby. Here’s a Python example:
search_results = braintree.Transaction.search( braintree.TransactionSearch.credit_card_card_type == braintree.CreditCard.CardType.Visa ) search_results = braintree.Transaction.search( braintree.TransactionSearch.credit_card_card_type.in_list( braintree.CreditCard.CardType.Visa, braintree.CreditCard.CardType.MasterCard, braintree.CreditCard.CardType.Discover ) )
If using the API seems like overkill, you can use webhooks to retrieve some categories of data via user-defined HTTP callbacks. To do that, you create a webhook destination URL on your server, create a new webhook using the Braintree Control Panel, then set up your server to parse incoming webhooks.
Sample Braintree data
The object Braintree’s API returns may have dozens of attributes – far too many to list here, even in an example.
Preparing Braintree 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. The source API 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. This means you’ll likely have to create additional tables to capture the unpredictable cardinality in each record.
Loading data into Azure SQL Data Warehouse
SQL Data Warehouse provides a multi-step process for loading data. After extracting the data from its source, you can move it to Azure Blob storage or Azure Data Lake Store. You can then use one of three utilities to load the data:
- AZCopy uses the public internet.
- Azure ExpressRoute routes the data through a dedicated private connection to Azure, bypassing the public internet by using a VPN or point-to-point Ethernet network.
- The Azure Data Factory (ADF) cloud service has a gateway that you can install on your local server, then use to create a pipeline to move data to Azure Storage.
From Azure Storage you can load the data into SQL Data Warehouse staging tables by using Microsoft's PolyBase technology. You can run any transformations you need while the data is in staging, then insert it into production tables. Microsoft offers documentation for the whole process.
Keeping Braintree 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.
Instead, identify key fields that your script can use to bookmark its progression through the data and use to pick up where it left off as it looks for updated data. Auto-incrementing fields such as updated_at or created_at work best for this. When you've built in this functionality, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it appears in Braintree.
And remember, as with any code, once you write it, you have to maintain it. If PayPal modifies the Braintree API, or if the API sends a field with a datatype your code doesn't recognize, you may have to modify the script. If your users want slightly different information, you definitely will have to.
Other data warehouse options
Azure SQL Data Warehouse 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, Snowflake, or Panoply, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax. 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 Braintree Payments to Azure SQL Data Warehouse automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Braintree Payments data via the API, structuring it in a way that's optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Azure SQL Data Warehouse data warehouse.