How do you choose between a data warehouse and a data lake when both can process unstructured data? Data collection frequency is an important consideration.

If you’re looking to build new products or advertise existing ones, a traditional data warehouse is a place to store all of your structured data so that it can be integrated into a single data model, perform analytics, and generate business intelligence. Data warehouses that can handle structured and unstructured, as well as streaming and real-time analytics as well as reporting, are becoming increasingly important in today’s world of massive volumes of data pouring in from sources such as online shopping carts or IoT devices and sensors.

Businesses are rapidly moving to the cloud to achieve more efficiency and lower costs. Azure corporate vice-president Julia White points out that more and more of that data may already be in the cloud, as well as the services that you want to use that data with. More and more customers are asking, ‘why would I take my operational data and offload it from cloud to on-premises only for my analytics? ‘, as data sits and moves to the cloud, whether it’s from SaaS applications or applications migrating solely to the cloud. Simply put, it doesn’t add up. Even while there’s still a lot of data on-premises, and there will be even more as edge computing expands, many customers are moving some or all their data to the cloud regardless of compliance difficulties, according to White.

“They very quickly realize that analytics is the core of that,” White says. “Every organization is looking into AI.” As soon as they begin to inquire about the health of their analytics and data warehouse, it is generally insufficient.

Increasing numbers of Microsoft customers are turning to cloud analytics because of Power BI’s popularity. It’s not uncommon for people to doubt their analytics capabilities when they have access to excellent data visualizations like Power BI, says White. “I love Power BI and wish my analytics were more fascinating,” he says.

For more advanced users, Microsoft, Adobe, and SAP have created the Open Data Initiative (ODI), which allows them to analyze their own Office Graph data (which can be copied to Azure Data Lake via Azure Data Factory) (which is built on Azure Data Lake and will eventually integrate data from many more software vendors). According to White, Azure Data Lake is “extremely strongly connected” with Azure Data Warehouse, and customers are leveraging Azure Data Warehouse to acquire more insights and construct a modern data warehouse on top of it.

Which Data Service?

While Azure SQL Data Warehouse (DW) is Microsoft’s most well-known cloud service, it’s just one of many cloud services that look a little bit like a data warehouse. Other cloud services, such as Azure Data Factory (ADF), Data Lake (ADF), Databricks (ADF), and Machine Learning (ML), are also available.

When attempting to make sense of them, it’s important to consider not only the features they provide but also the intended audience they serve and the way in which they interact. As a result of the fragmented nature of most enterprises’ data, the first step in constructing an efficient data warehouse is to combine all these siloed data sources. One of the reasons Microsoft offers so many distinct data services is that the more data storage there are on Azure, the easier it will be to connect them. “There’s a collection of subtle choices and you’re actually going to pick and choose, and optimize what you use for your particular settings,” White explains. “You’re not looking for a single tool that can handle everything.”

For data scientists who need to work with curated data, Azure DW is a good fit. The data may have come from a SQL Server database, but it might also have come via a pipeline constructed by those data engineers using Databricks or Spark and.NET to process data from a source like Azure HDInsight.

Azure Data Factory is a new service for data engineers who need to process, transform, and distribute data. If you prefer to write code to handle the data transformation and manage the different parts of the data pipeline, you can use Python, Java, or.NET SDKs to do so. You can also utilize Logic Apps, which is an implementation of Logic Apps, for drag-and-drop operations.

Dataflows (also code-free) can be used by Power BI to perform data transformations, although this is a self-service tool for business analysts. Semantic models may be created by data engineers or full-time BI analysts, and Microsoft is tightening Power BI’s connection with Azure DW.

Users of Power BI can incorporate AI into their graphics and reports. Cognitive Services, such as picture recognition and sentiment analysis, are already pre-built by Microsoft. Custom AI models generated for them by data engineers in the Azure Machine Learning service may also be used, making use of all that corporate data.

A Lakeside Warehouses

These scenarios are so complicated that it’s becoming difficult to distinguish between data warehouses and data lakes in the cloud. Data from numerous sources can be combined in a traditional data warehouse using ETL transformations to create a single schema and a single data model in software that can be used to answer the same kinds of queries time after time after time.

With the PolyBase and JSON support in SQL Server and Azure Data Warehouse, it is possible to connect data from non-relational stores such as HDFS and Cosmos DB to relational databases like MySQL and PostgreSQL. Data warehouses and SQL Servers can look more like data lakes because of this.

For example, various data stores can be ingested in their native format or something close to that format, allowing you to have multiple data models and multiple data schemas and the ability to ask new queries from the same data. U-SQL is the name given to the SQL variation used for Azure Data Lake queries, not simply because it comes after T-SQL, but because you might require a U-boat to explore your data lake’s murky depths and discover what lies underneath.)

Create a data warehouse from relevant data if you’re going to ask the same question repeatedly (like sales analytics or tracking delivery times for a dashboard). You can, however, go back to the original data lake and establish a new data warehouse to answer any new issues that may arise in the future.

Microsoft’s definition of a contemporary data warehouse infrastructure includes both components. In the data lake, you may use machine learning to find patterns that reveal what insights you can gain from the data and combine it with the conventional data warehouse technologies to answer those questions quickly and effectively.

There isn’t a single service offered by Microsoft to address any of these issues. There are several Azure services you may use for different sections of it, so you can pick and choose what you need. You will, however, be required to possess data competence to design and implement your own customized solution.

Final Thought

If a company is to successfully implement a digital transformation, it needs to have modern data warehouses and increasingly cloud data warehouses. Even when you mix data from numerous internal systems with information from outside companies, current business systems can be leveraged.

Executives, managers, and employees, as well as critical customers and suppliers, all benefit from dashboards, KPIs, alerts, and reporting. Fast and complicated data mining and analytics are also provided by data warehouses and other business processes are not disrupted as a result.

As a result of the ability to start small and grow as needed, both corporate offices and business units can benefit from current data warehouse technologies.


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