Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse Review

A good solution for simple data warehousing that scales well, but it needs better technical support

What is our primary use case?

This is a data warehousing solution.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the scalability. It scales out, so you can build a large database and not have to think about whether it performs, or about connecting to the servers to become larger.

What needs improvement?

There are several specific features and functions available on the on-premises version that do not work with the cloud version. There are many issues regarding migration.

They are building it more and more, but if you have the same version on local you cannot just go to the cloud because some of the functionalities don't work yet. You would have to re-code everything, and maybe even do it differently.

In terms of documentation, they can make it easier or start with some advising or instruction. As it is now, it's like making a puzzle.

Technical support needs some improvement.

They will need to include some features for the Cloud version.

They can make subsets of the database so you can schedule the marking department to work only between nine to five, but ETL can run at night. 

With a subset database, you can cut costs, similar to Snowflake whose price is a lot lower.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for almost two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is scalable.

We have a couple of administrations using this solution and the rest are indirectly using third-party tools. They are developers and administrators.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support is difficult. I don't think that their support is good.

You can call for help, they take your request, but they don't have an understanding of the tool.

You have to wait a couple of days for someone to call you back.

There have been times where I knew more than they did, so you have to figure it out for yourself.

I am not satisfied with the support, but I do understand that when you have a service desk or a help desk, they cannot go through the entire solution. What I expect is that the second line should, but they don't have a second line.

You submit in a support ticket and three days later you get a callback and have to explain the problem that you are having again. It takes more time.

I have called Microsoft and even they were not sure and nobody could really help me.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup for me was straightforward, but I have a lot of experience. I think that for some people who are less experienced it would be complex.

It's not just the documentation on what version you need to have and what pricing. It is really difficult.

You have to read a lot to understand what you are doing.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This solution starts at €1000.00 a month for just the basics and can go up to €300,000.00 per month for the fastest version.

It's pay as you go, so you never know what your bill is going to be beforehand, and that's scary for customers. If you have someone who makes a mistake and the program's a loop that is running all night, you could receive a very expensive bill.

The bad side to pay as you go is that sometimes it can stop the enthusiasm of the data scientists, as they are afraid to run a query because they are afraid of the bill and how much it will be.

What other advice do I have?

It's a nice solution for a simple data warehousing, but it's still an immature solution.

It is stable but it takes a lot of time. 

Smaller companies have better products, but the problem will always be there and the smaller company will not survive.

Customers will have tools that are not supported anymore.

Microsoft is so big that people trust them, they will eventually get there but it will take time to get the features with quality. There are, however, some solutions available that are better and cheaper. You can purchase them instead of having to reprogram everything that you have already done.

My advice would be to compare this solution with others. Snowflake would be a comparable solution. It's cheaper, faster, and better.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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