What is Microsoft Fabric?

We all love a unified platform, right? Everything in one place, that sort of thing? Well if you do, Microsoft’s got the all-in-one, end-to-end analytics solution for you with Microsoft Fabric.

P icture this: organizations go all-in on these fancy data lake strategies, dreaming of this one central hub where they can stash all their precious data. They want to break down those pesky silos, make data blending a breeze, and ensure top-notch analysis, security, governance, and discovery. Sounds like a utopia, right?

Unfortunately, that vision can be quite elusive. These enterprise data lakes end up becoming customized projects, slapped together with raw storage and a whole lot of sticky code. They’re supposed to handle scalability, collaboration, compliance, security, and governance, but let’s just say they’re not always as smooth as they claim to be.

Fear not! Enter Microsoft Fabric, the superhero of analytics platforms. But what is Microsoft Fabric?

Said simply: Fabric is a SaaS product aimed at unifying data silos. It’s a high-performance unified analytics platform where data professionals and business folk can join forces and work their magic on data projects. Users store, create, edit, explore, build with, and collaborate on data projects and products. All the way from ad-hoc to enterprise scale use-cases.

Said another way, Microsoft took all the necessary data tools for data engineering, warehousing, monitoring, science, visualization, and analytics and unified them in a lakehouse architecture. No more juggling multiple analytics services from different vendors. Instead, you get a streamlined solution that’s a breeze to connect, onboard, and operate. Fabric integrates nicely with outside sources through Data Factory and new Shortcuts, so your business is able to continue using your previous infrastructure.

microsoft fabric

Now, let’s talk about the user experience. Fabric keeps it simple and communal. It’s like a unified software-as-a-service (SaaS) party where all your data hangs out in OneLake (Microsoft’s data lake), and every single analytics engine on the platform can access that lake! Plus, Fabric is all about scalability, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection.

microsoft fabric

Fabric is enabling companies who currently aren’t leveraging analytics at scale with a faster time-to-solution (months instead of years), unleashing a whole new level of freedom and efficiency. This simplifies, if not removes, the tedious processes of strategizing data architecture, vendor comparison and compatibility checks, individual procurement requests, coordinating multiple departments to connect the tooling, contract negotiation per tool, the list goes on. All of these hassles are mostly removed by Fabric because the tools needed for them are all in one product.

With Fabric, you can swiftly and effortlessly provision and run any type of workload or job without jumping through hoops for pre-approval or extensive planning. Talk about convenience! This means you have the power to scale your resources up or down on the fly, adapting and responding to those ever-changing business needs like a true champion.

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Of course, all these benefits come with a cost, and a cost-benefit analysis should be done for any business interested in using Fabric. Once evaluated, the benefits of reduced setup time, reduced headcount of brilliant (but expensive) architects, increased speed of provisioning new capacity along the way, and (likely) reduced time-to-insights could easily outweigh the costs.

Fabric’s Features

Integrated AI Copilot

Every user persona will be able to enter prompts and speed-up their flows with intelligent and specific Copilot assistance. For example:

  • Data scientists can prompt Copilot to create a ML model for a forecasting use-case
  • Data analysts can prompt Copilot to generate a dashboard for month-over-month sales
  • Data engineers can prompt Copilot to troubleshoot troublesome API code
microsoft fabric

Everything, all in one place

  • The tools, data, and users are all in one place. Users don’t have to switch between SQL-Server, Power-BI, Azure Synapse, and Azure ML to accomplish their tasks.

  • Users interact with all of Fabric via their browser
  • Users can switch between “personas” and their unique user-interfaces (data scientist UI, data analyst UI) in the same place
  • Developers can still use VS Code remotely though, don’t worry

Connect to external data sources with Shortcuts

Shortcuts is Fabric’s way of accessing data stored in external storage services. It reuses data without copying it so you don’t have to throw away all the work you’ve already done. You can create shortcuts to Databricks, AWS, GCP, elsewhere in Azure, etc. For example, you can reference an AWS S3 bucket as a shortcut and it will “exist” in Fabric OneLake. There is no copying data into OneLake’s physical storage, yet you have instant access as though it was imported.

microsoft fabric

ACID Transaction guarantees

  • Transaction guarantees accomplished via Delta Lake Logs once lake files are set as Delta Lake Tables
  • Datasets are version controlled and can be reset (time-travel) to previous states
  • Open-source Delta Lake parquet data storage format, so you aren’t locked in
delta lake

Interact with data however you want

microsoft fabric

Big data with Apache Spark

This one comes as no surprise, but should be said nonetheless: process big data with Spark in Synapse Engineering.

Find curated, organized, and vetted data with the OneLake data hub

Fabric’s OneLake isn’t just a fancy storage space; it’s also a centralized hub of governance and collaboration. Your data is securely protected and governed in this one magical place, while still being easily discoverable and accessible to the right users across your entire organization.

With the OneLake data hub, you can find data by domain (Finance, Operations, Marketing…) and authorized users are able to certify certain content that meets organizational certification standards so that trustworthy data is easily discoverable.

microsoft fabric
microsoft fabric

Easily explore your data with the Lakehouse Explorer

  • Get previews of the data you click on as you explore
  • Quicker and easier than SELECT TOP 100 * for each file/table you’re wanting to explore
microsoft fabric
microsoft fabric

So there you have it, my friends. Microsoft Fabric offers you a hassle-free, collaborative, and powerful data experience all in one place. Say goodbye to the chaos and hello to a data paradise. For more information, we’ve provided a list of references and resources below to help you expand your Fabric knowledge.

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