Modern Data Warehouses, backed by Data Lakes are key for better analytics and business intelligence, but until recently, it’s been hard to make the two work together.
Azure Synapse Analytics is a new Microsoft Azure data service that aims to bring the management of these two essential components - and plenty more capabilities - together into one toolset, helping companies overhaul their data analytics practices for better decision-making with a more intuitive, end-to-end solution.
Built as the next evolution of Azure SQL Data Warehouse, it offers limitless analytics and serverless on-demand or provisioned resources at scale to meet different business needs for ingesting, preparing, managing and serving data for business intelligence and machine learning. In short, its capabilities are far more defined than SQL Data Warehouse.
But what does this actually mean?
Essentially, it provides an easier and more powerful way for businesses to bring together the processes of consolidating, storing, curating and analysing our data to generate reliable, actionable insights.
First announced at Microsoft Ignite 2019, Azure Synapse Analytics is a fascinating and highly relevant new offering from Azure, given the moves by all three major public cloud vendors to simplify and consolidate their increasing number of data analytics, AI and machine learning services.
So, who is it for, exactly?
In this blog, we cover how exactly Azure Synapse Analytics aims to help your analytics efforts, its potential use case for your unique data analytics initiatives, and how it can offer your team a simpler data management platform by unifying BI, ML, AI and warehousing processes into one.
How Azure Synapse Analytics Helps Your Business
Many companies typically use several tools to consolidate, store and analyse their critical workloads.
It’s usually a complex and expensive task to try and get these siloed systems to work together in a cohesive way, as usually they’re unable to integrate with each other, leaving organisations at the mercy of the vendor or just having to use them all separately - a time consuming inefficiency.
With Azure Synapse Analytics, large businesses can centralise management of their data lakes and data warehouses into a single unified experience - and leverage native integration with the BI and ML capabilities of other Microsoft tools such as Power BI and Azure Machine Learning.
You can use your data faster and more securely, as the tool combines insights from all your data sources - be that data warehouses, BI tools, data lakes - into one specialised workspace called the Azure Synapse Studio.
Here, staff can handle data preparation, data warehousing, general data management, and integration with business intelligence tools (data visualisation, reporting) and AI efforts like machine learning with more simplicity and organisation than ad-hoc and traditional on-premise analytics solutions.
Here are some key benefits it provides for businesses looking to overhaul their analytics:
- Better BI and Data Visualisation: With easy and native integration with Power BI, reporting and analysis of key metrics is far more engaging, easy-to-use and easy to share with relevant stakeholders across the business. Less data silos, more visibility.
- Less Code: Decision-makers can stay on-top of what their data specialists and engineers are doing across warehousing, analytics, BI and AI initiatives thanks to a code-free environment and visual-based UI for managing data pipelines that’s far more accessible for the average person.
- Limitless scale: As a cloud-based service, you can view, organise and query relational and non-relational data much faster (at petabyte scale) than traditional on-premises tools, all while using familiar SQL language - there’s no new and complicated skills roadblock here. You can also optimise performance for critical workloads using workload isolation and limitless concurrency.
- In-built Security: Synapse Analytics provides advanced protection of all business data with the broader and proven security and identity benefits of the cloud. You get the latest authentication, compliance, encryption, governance, policies and threat detection controls for all assets, and enhanced privacy and protection with dynamic data masking and row-level and column-level security. Most on-premise data management tools can’t compare - and this is in-built.
Azure Synapse Analytics, at its heart, however, is a tool that requires a fair amount of technical and analytics knowledge to get the most out of. Thankfully, developers and data scientists have more than their own fair share of clear benefits in using the service.
How Azure Synapse Analytics Helps Your Team
With Azure Synapse Analytics, data professionals and engineers get a powerful but unified data platform for all their enterprise data warehousing and analytics needs. Aside from the high-level, general benefits listed above, the teams on the ground can leverage several benefits.
- Access to Azure Machine Learning: Analysing data in Azure Synapse comes with native integration with Azure Machine Learning (AML) and its machine learning capabilities - meaning you’re able to score ML models and generate predictions directly within your data warehouse without having to move large amounts of data. You can also convert existing models trained in AML into an internal format representation within Synapse Analytics without having to start over from scratch, saving time and money.
- Faster Sharing: Native integration with Azure Data Services means your team can easily share data internally and externally via Azure Data Share integration, for both data lakes and data warehouse data. No more having to copy terabytes of big data from various different enterprise storage systems and somehow avoiding the complexity that inherently accompanies such a task - it’s all in one platform, and seamless.
- Support for data streaming ingestion: You can execute analytic queries over streaming data with Azure Synapse Analytics, directly in your data warehousing environment, and leverage integration with Events Hubs and IoT hubs.
- Workload Isolation: A functionality new with Synapse Analytics, workload isolation allows you to reserve resources, exclusively, for a workload group with increased flexibility and control over data warehouse resources.
In terms of its integration with other powerful Azure Data Services solutions like Azure Data Factory (for ingestion), Power BI (for data visualisation and reporting), Azure Databricks (analysis via Spark or Azure Data Warehouse), this is a solution that should be on your radar.
Azure Synapse Analytics is an evolving service, having only launched in the past year to enhance SQL Data Warehousing. If you or your business needs help understanding how Azure Synapse Analytics could fit your business case, visit our expertise section.