How to Manage Business Data Using Azure
| certifications | microsoft - Graeme Messina

How to Manage Business Data Using Azure

Dark data refers to data that organizations have gathered over a long period of time. Generally, at the time of capturing this data, most companies did not have computer systems that could process all of that data. As a result, data was stored away until the computer systems could process it, even if it is unstructured and asymmetrical.

Nowadays, cloud computing providers like Microsoft Azure can help analyze dark data and produce insights against it. The idea behind this system is to allow users (namely business managers) to view and explore the results of different types of analyses through visually interactive dashboards.

The end result? This allows companies to not only gain insights faster, but produce them in an intuitive way.

A Quick Overview of Azure Tools and Services

Microsoft Azure’s tools and products have allowed companies to start making proper use of their big data and dark data by providing them with platforms that allow them to  store almost any data type, and analyze it.

This is done using a variety of tools and products that Microsoft Azure provides. We have gathered information below about the basic tools and applications that you will use when managing your business’s data on the Azure platform.

Azure Synapse Analytics

This tool is an interactive data exploration environment that gives users the power to quickly model and analyze their data in a variety of ways using easy to use visual interfaces. Using these interfaces, business managers can create insights that they can share with others or integrate into other applications or websites.

1. Storage

Storage is an important part of any big data project, and how big data is stored will determine how it is accessed. Azure's Storage Services help facilitate the storage of large amounts of data by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks that can be accessed quickly and easily.

2. Compute

Once your data has been stored, it will need to be worked on in order to get valuable insights generated about it. Azure provides a method of helping users to manage and process large data sets, so that insights can be generated more quickly and easily.

3. Warehousing (SQL)

This is where data gets identified and categorized, and it can then be manipulated and worked with. SQL is one of the most common formats that this kind of data is stored as.

Azure Synapse Analytics can come in and interact with all 3 of these components and develop administrative and management insights on all of this data.

It can help to accomplish important organizational goals such as managing costs, create better efficiency, and bring down time to insight significantly.

HDInsight

HDInsight is a product that has been created to use a variety of different data frameworks.  It is a product that has been built by Microsoft which allows companies to understand how their business is performing and what they can do about it.

HDInsight uses a variety of data sources, analytic tools and gives insight into how businesses manage data. HDInsight also allows for data to be streamed into Azure, where it is then processed and analyzed in real time.

This is extremely useful as companies can begin to create better insight and analysis about their operations without having to wait on the results from periodic reports that are often conducted over night or on weekends.

Data Frameworks: Data frameworks are necessary for applications to interact with certain data sets as they provide a common language that allows seamless data and application interactions. If your stored data does not provide a common language or format, then you need to use a data framework.

Spark: If you already have existing projects and data commitments in Spark, then you can integrate this into Azure with HDInsight. This is incredibly important as it means that you do not have to start all over again just to have access to the enhanced cloud functionality that Azure has to offer.

Hadoop: The “HD” in HDInsight relates to Hadoop. Hadoop has Azure hosted components that are managed from within Azure. Hadoop provides the components that give frameworks like Spark the ability to work with Azure.

Spark Data Analytics

Spark Analytics uses the Spark framework to pump data into Azure, where analysis can be run and insights can be generated.

Spark Analytics is essentially just a more advanced version of HDInsight as they share the same components and data integration features.

Spark Data Streams help to provide more real time, streaming access to data stored on Azure, which can then be used for analysis and insights to be generated much faster than previous generations of analytics tools that are available.

Azure Databricks: Azure Databricks also has data storage, data warehousing and the ability to perform compute services and generally analyze large sets of data with one exception: Azure Databricks is specific to Spark.

ETL Framework: In this instance, Spark is our ETL Framework. ETL stands for 'Extract Transform and Load'. An ETL Framework refers to the data processes that our data needs to undergo in order to successfully use data to perform operations on it, and gain insights from it.

If you log into your Azure portal then you can search for Azure Analytics so that you can create a workspace to connect your various data ecosystems together.

Synapse is not a hosted solution for doing data, instead it is a management framework for the existing work that you are already doing with your data.The best way to think about it is that it is an overview for your ecosystem of big data and dark data.

Final Thoughts: What Have We Learned?

Azure Synapse Analytics is a product that has been created to use a variety of different data frameworks. It is a product that has been built by Microsoft that allows companies to understand how their business is performing and what they can do about it.

HDInsight also allows for data to be streamed into Azure, where it is then processed and analyzed in real time.  This makes all the difference as companies can begin to create better insight and analysis about their operations without having to wait on the results from periodic reports that are often conducted over night or on weekends.

Data Frameworks provide common languages so your stored data formats will match up with applications you want them too (which make sense). Spark provides an ETL Framework (Extract Transform Load) while HDInsight does not. This means that Hadoop based storage and HDInsight are two separate entities which will require different strategies to access Azure data integrations.

All in all, Azure Synapse Analytics is a platform that allows data to be analyzed from several different points of view, and in real time, giving businesses the ability to take advantage of their existing data sets to gain new insights into their businesses.

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