Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics Review

Scalable, intuitive, facilitates compliance and keeping your data secure

What is our primary use case?

I am a consultant, and when I go on-site, it's to determine how they can move to the cloud. Often, clients want to migrate because everyone else is. Others want to because they assume that they are going to save money. They will require less support staff in-house and they won't have to purchase servers.

Customers have a need to cut back on expenses, and equipment. Their servers are becoming obsolete and are required to update their licensing. Rather than doing that and creating a larger overhead, they look into Microsoft Azure. It might be a better way to go and it's less money upfront. 

Some clients have already implemented VMs. A lot of their data is stored that way. There is a difference when you move that to the cloud. 

If you share it back and forth, you have your hybrid where you have it in the cloud and on-premises. It depends on the company and what their plans are.

There is an automated tool that you can analyze your data sources and identify whether or not you can upgrade them and you can also use it for SharePoint. I've used Azure for that purpose.

In regards to data warehouses, I'm doing the upgrades from on-prem to in the cloud, or a combination of both.

How has it helped my organization?

With our current COVID situation and being under lockdown, many of the businesses are moving to the cloud and it's been beneficial for us.

Many consulting agencies have set up online businesses where you can reach out and they will do webinars to introduce you to things. I have been involved with that too and it gives customers a taste of things that will give you more of an opportunity to sell it to them.

What is most valuable?

What I use the most is the tool to identify the upgrades. When you have a data warehouse on-premise you have jobs that run. Similar to an SQL agent, you are not comparing apples to apples, there are differences between the way the jobs are run on Azure versus the on-premises.

We also like governance. It looks at what the requirements are for the company to identify the best way to ensure compliance is met when you move to the cloud.

They can be leary of moving to the cloud, They want to determine when someone has access to the client's data when sharing, and are in the same environment, that the data is secure. Essentially, they are accountable and need to be able to identify how secure their data is for their clients.

What needs improvement?

Technical support needs to improve.

Microsoft improves all of the time, but there are some things where different vendors offer data warehousing and data governance that you can build and workaround. It would be beneficial to take the top vendors and identify some kind of straightforward action to work with them. Instead of having to employ a separate vendor tool to be able to move this, it would be nice to be able to go through Microsoft.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse since 2012.

It's in the cloud and updated every six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's a scalable solution.

Our client's companies vary in size. They are across the board from insurance companies, healthcare, marketing, and manufacturing.

How are customer service and technical support?

Early on, Microsoft was not good at supporting its product and issues. I had lost a contract because showed up to late to resolve an issue that I was having when doing a comparison between Microsoft and an IBM product, where I wasn't able to transfer the data fast enough.

I have reached out to the technical support team since and some of it is really good, whereas, at other times, you are better to post it online and try to resolve it yourself. They support the tool but don't have to experience with the tool.

I would rate the technical support an eight out of ten.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used Oracle as a backend, but I am not skilled with Oracle. The frontend has always been with Microsoft.

How was the initial setup?

You couldn't be a novice really and follow it.

As long as you were using the tools already, it's pretty straightforward. 

They do have resources you can contact.

You could have one or two of your team join the Microsoft groups and learn more that way as well. 

There is a lot of planning and setting the right people in motion to work with it.

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

There is a cost calculator available online that allows you to input your entire scenario, and it will get back to you with information on what the costs are going to be. You can adjust it to include different requirements to best suit your budgeting needs.

Microsoft also offers suggestions on what you would need based on your account.

Microsoft is trying to be more competitive and wants to be very accommodating.

What other advice do I have?

Clients will look at Pro Dell Compare. They use the tool to determine how simple it is or how complicated it will be to move their data. They consider whether they need to make use of one of Microsoft's partners to have them help, or can they do it themselves, and they determine how risky it is along with how simple it will be. Will they have enough manpower, and whether or not they're going to have to hire external consultants to help them. They also consider whether they are going to move their applications or are they going to wait? and what's going to come first. They create a plan.

You want your onsite team to look at, our use cases, look at what we're getting back for information, and then problem-solve. Think about any additional questions, and is this really feasible, because it's not free. You can start out using it for free for a short amount of time.

Microsoft is improving and as they grow, I see that they are pushing towards the enterprise. If you don't quite fit, then you are pushed into it whether you are ready or not.

You really have to consider where you want to be and what you are currently doing.

Anyone looking to use Microsoft Azure SQL Data Warehouse, I would advise them to do the research, hire an architect, screen them well, and know their background to ensure that they are going to provide a service for you. Have them work alongside the project manager to identify the resources and what needs to take place and build a plan.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private 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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