Microsoft launches Azure analytics and data services

Azure Synapse Analytics was first announced in November 2019

Microsoft has officially launched its Azure Synapse Analytics service, as well as its data governance offering Azure Purview, in a move designed to break down and move past silos in businesses.

Entering into general availability, Synapse Analytics combines data integration, enterprise data warehousing and Big Data analytics for data engineering, machine learning and BI with the aim of avoiding silos in processes and tools.

It also utilises a unified workspace for data preparation, management, warehousing and artificial intelligence (AI) tasks, column-level security, native row-level security and dynamic data masking.

The analytics service was first announced back in November 2019 at Microsoft's Ignite conference that year, with Rohan Kumar, corporate vice president at Azure data, claiming at the time that the service was the first analytics system to run Transaction Processing Performance Council Benchmark H (TPC-H) queries at a petabyte scale.

“Simply put, Azure Synapse is the next evolution of Azure Structured Query Language (SQL) Data Warehouse. We have taken the same industry-leading data warehouse to a whole new level of performance and capabilities,” he said previously.

On explaining the rationale behind Synapse Analytics, Julia White, corporate vice president at Microsoft Azure, said in a blog post that by breaking down silos, users will be able to “harness the power of data”.

“For decades, specialised technologies like data warehouses and data lakes have helped us collect and analyse data of all sizes and formats. But in doing so, they often created niches of expertise and specialised technology in the process. This is the paradox of analytics: the more we apply new technology to integrate and analyse data, the more silos we can create,” she said.

“To break this cycle, a new approach is needed. Organisations must break down all silos to achieve analytical power and predictive power, in a unified, secure, and compliant manner. Your organisational success over the next decade will increasingly depend on your ability to accomplish this goal.”

In order to move past the silo breakdown and towards a data governance solution, Azure Purview was also launched.

Through Purview, users can locate data across an organisation, track its lineage and create business glossary for wherever it is stored — on-premises, clouds, in software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications or in Power BI.

The service can also show data exposures through over 100 artificial AI classifiers that automatically look for personally identifiable information, sensitive data,  as well as flag non-complying data. Additionally, Purview is also integrated with Microsoft Information Protection, which means users can apply the same sensitivity labels that are defined in Microsoft 365 Compliance Center.