Ignite 2021 – Some of my Azure Data Highlights

This week is Microsoft Ignite 2021 week – virtual again! Three days full of content, mostly pre-recorded sessions and many announcements of new features.

Microsoft published – like for some other conferences in the past – a Book of News, which contains an overview about the features, products and options announced during the conference.

Those of you that know me, maybe 🙂 know my favorite topics – Azure Data, Power BI and Azure Purview. If you have a look at the Book of News, the section for Azure Data is not that long, BUT…

The section of Azure Data announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2021

Let’s dive a little bit deeper and look at some of the announcements (Full announcement text is found here https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/azure-synapse-analytics/ignite-2021-announcements-accelerate-time-to-insight-with-azure/ba-p/2912147).

Azure Synapse Analytics

The Azure Synapse team announced some features around a third, new type of analytic pools – Data Explorer pools. With this type of analytics runtime, we are able to query log and telemetry data.

thumbnail image 1 of blog post titled 
							Ignite 2021 Announcements: Accelerate time-to-insight with Azure Synapse Analytics
source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/azure-synapse-analytics/ignite-2021-announcements-accelerate-time-to-insight-with-azure/ba-p/2912147

Azure Synapse Link for Dataverse is now GA. The concept of Synapse Link already an ETL-free extension of your analytic workspace into/ Cosmos DB and now is extended to support Dataverse. With this connection, selected tables out of a Dataverse database are replicated into a Synapse Workspace and are there exposed in a Spark database (which is – through shared metadata – accessible by the SQL Serverless runtime).

One of my overall highlights – Database templates – does not sound really interesting at the beginning. BUT – What I found out so far and if I understood it correctly, these database templates allow for a creation of a lake database based on data lake files. WITHOUT the need for coding – a UI-based editor is included in the first preview version. I am very curious to find out more about these lake databases.

Lake database overview
source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/synapse-analytics/database-designer/concepts-lake-database

Delta Lake support is now GA. The functionality of read-access to delta lake files through the SQL Serverless pool was already available in preview for some time, now this functionality got into GA state.

SQL Server 2022 is in Preview

Long live on-premises, long live SQL Server. The new version – SQL Server 2022 was announced in a preview version.

Many, many new features are mentioned in the blog post (https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2021/11/02/announcing-sql-server-2022-preview-azure-enabled-with-continued-performance-and-security-innovation/) , but one of them really found my attention – the Azure Synapse Link for SQL Server 2022. With that, the ETL-free connection between Azure Synapse Analytics and SQL Server 2022 will get into appearance. Think about (almost) real-time analytics by only connecting SQL Server with your Synapse environment – WITHOUT the need for ETL development! 🙂

SQL Server 2022: an industry-leader in performance and security, powered by Azure
source: https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2021/11/02/announcing-sql-server-2022-preview-azure-enabled-with-continued-performance-and-security-innovation/

Azure Purview

As you might have noticed, Azure Purview is one of my newest friends in Azure Data town. During Ignite, the support for Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service), the Data Lake Data Asset Access Governance, and Microsoft Defender for Cloud Integration with Azure Purview was announced.

What I really look forward to test is the Data Asset Access Governance for Data Lake storages. Imagine a world that allows you to define permission on a central place and those permissions are brought to a storage account / system of your choice..

If you want to get a quick preview of the Data Access functionality, please have a look at the video published at channel 9 – https://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/Azure-Videos/Azure-Purview-data-owner-provisioning-for-Azure-Storage

Power BI

Last in my list, but definitely not least – Power BI. The full description of the announcements can be found here (https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/ignite-2021-enabling-data-driven-decisions-everywhere-collaboration-happens-with-enterprise-grade-analytics/)

Power BI and Teams are getting better together – the Power BI app for Teams is now GA and allows a deep integration of your Power BI environment directly in your teams application.

An animated GIF showing the Power BI app for Microsoft Teams. It shows New simplified navigation, datasets hub, create experience, goals hub, and built-in Teams usage analytics report.
source: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/create-a-more-data-driven-collaboration-with-the-power-bi-app-for-microsoft-teams-ga/

Power BI Goals got some enhancements too, like a new Scorecard visual, permissions, Power Automate integration (triggers and actions), …

Power BI Premium Gen2 is now GA – allowing for a more enterprise grade and scalable analytics.

The concept of Hybrid tables allows a dynamic combination of in-memory caches of historical data combined with real-time data queried in DirectQuery mode.

Table Description automatically generated
Power BI Hybrid tables – source – https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/ignite-2021-enabling-data-driven-decisions-everywhere-collaboration-happens-with-enterprise-grade-analytics/

Power BI integration in Azure Purview

Already featured in the Azure Purview launch event, the Power BI integration is now GA, allowing for a deeper integration and metadata scanning of your Power BI workspaces, datasets, reports and even dataset structures.

Power BI integration in Azure Purview – source: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/ignite-2021-enabling-data-driven-decisions-everywhere-collaboration-happens-with-enterprise-grade-analytics/


Although the Book of News section is not that impressive, a closer look at the new feature really makes me look forward to a bright future of Azure Data. One of my highlights are the announced Database templates and Lake database in Azure Synapse…

What is YOUR favorite feature?


About wolfgang

Data Platform enthusiast
This entry was posted in Azure, Azure Purview, Azure Synapse Analytics, Cloud, Conference, Data Governance, Data Lake, InformationSharing, PowerBI. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Ignite 2021 – Some of my Azure Data Highlights

  1. Pingback: Ignite Announcements – Curated SQL

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