Just a few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the preview of Microsoft Fabric. It is Microsoft’s most recent attempt at building a comprehensive analytics platform. At its core, Microsoft Fabric consists of seven distinct services, each with its own role, combine this with Azure OpenAI and Fabric provides intelligent solutions that address every aspect of data and analytics. It is a blend of new, old, and updated solutions that work together in varying degrees of harmony.
Data Factory is the primary data integration engine of Fabric. It has more than 200 source connectors for importing data into OneLake.
Synapse Data Engineering is a managed Apache Spark service. Its primary role is to enable scalable data transformation.
Synapse Data Science allows users to build comprehensive AI and machine learning models with the ability to collaborate, export and manage them throughout the entirety of the workflow.
Synapse Data Warehousing harnesses the power of industry leading SQL performance to establish a combined data lake and data warehouse solution.
Synapse Real-Time Analytics provides users with highspeed and high-performance data streaming for sources such as IoT, clickstreams, and more.
Power BI in Fabric provides users with quick access to the powerful data visualization solutions of Power BI.
OneLake is the central data repository that provides the foundation for the rest of the services.
Access to all components via a unified UI - The data fabric functionality is being merged into the standard Power BI workspace interface. However, most of the components have their own interface that is not standardized.
All applications are SaaS - Data Fabric is a package. No need to sign up for individual services.
Unified Billing – Because of the packaged format of Fabric, you do not pay for each individual service, but a flat fee each month for access to all the components. Pricing scales with the amount of computer power (capacity). The current pricing model is pay as you use, but Microsoft has indicated that they will offer bulk discounts in the future. The Microsoft Data Fabric fee is on top of the cost for Power BI licenses. As with most Microsoft products there is a ton of nuance around licensing.
Copilot Integration - Copilot is a Microsoft branded and fine-tuned version of ChatGPT 4. Right now, it is in private preview, so there is little concrete news to report on. Preview videos show its capabilities for auto generating reports and DAX measures.
Power BI Direct Lake - This allows Power BI to read directly from the OneLake component. This means you get the scale and data freshness of DirectQuery mode with the speed of Import mode. It is still a very early preview, but initial impressions appear very promising.
Microsoft Fabric represents a significant stride in data analytics by integrating seven core services - Data Factory, Synapse Data Engineering, Synapse Data Science, Synapse Data Warehousing, Synapse Real-Time Analytics, Power BI in Fabric, and OneLake - into a unified platform.
This SaaS model, although early in its development, proposes enhanced user experience with a unified UI, streamlined operations with a flat-fee monthly billing system, and innovative functionalities like the potential of ChatGPT 4 auto-generating reports through Copilot integration.
Although its complete effectiveness and scalability remain to be seen as the platform matures, Microsoft Fabric holds substantial promise to revolutionize business analytics, bolstering efficiency in data utilization, and decision-making processes across industries.