Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics Review

Smoothly integrates data from diverse sources, but can be prone to bugs

What is our primary use case?

I work with Azure Synapse Analytics, Power BI, and Premier as a data administrator, using Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure. Azure Synapse Analytics is the principal data administration tool for our internal data warehousing, but we also use it for our customers' data warehousing and analytics in different industries. For data entry, we use Microsoft Power BI.

Internally, we have about 200 personnel currently using Azure Synapse Analytics, including data specialists, service managers, and other tech workers. It is not extensively used by all, however, because we don't often use it for very large amounts of data, except where financial data is involved.

How has it helped my organization?

Azure Synapse Analytics helps us move quickly when it comes to finding data warehousing and analytics solutions for our customers.

What is most valuable?

We use Azure Synapse Analytics in many different areas and industries, so I like that you can administrate and create pipelines for different sources of data and later integrate and deploy it to other internal areas, such as separate dashboards for financials, and so on.

It is our main data warehouse solution, and the one big feature I appreciate is all its various analytics functions. The built-in analytics also makes it an attractive option for our customers, where we act as a service provider for them.

What needs improvement?

Unfortunately, we have had some issues with the dashboard reporting. Sometimes, the data for specific periods would just appear blank on the dashboard. To investigate this, we worked with a Microsoft incident agent and it turned out to be a result of bugs in the platform when dealing with specific types of queries in Azure Data Factory.

We have also encountered some bugs regarding incompatibility with certain versions of Power BI. In the past, Power BI used to integrate nicely with Azure Analysis Services which we used as a bridge between Power BI and Synapse Analytics, but they have since discontinued the features that worked so well for us.

Apart from fixing bugs, I would also suggest:

  • The learning features and documentation could be improved and expanded on.
  • The calculation and forecasting tools could be made more clear and easy to use.
  • The price could be lower.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics for one and a half years now. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

When it comes to stability, Synapse Analytics has suited us well, because it's very fast, i.e. it has good performance. Compared with the on-premises SQL solutions we've used, the results are two times as fast.

There are some bugs that we've encountered with the platform but we are able to work with Microsoft directly to resolve them as they come up.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I'm very impressed by the scalability of Synapse Analytics, even though we don't use it for huge amounts of data most of the time. Combined with the availability of machine learning and other features in the cloud, it has a lot of potential, especially in the area of finance.

How are customer service and technical support?

In our context as service provider, normally we have direct contact with the server. But in some cases, we have needed extra support which was very slow.

For technical issues, I often solve them myself using Microsoft's learning resources and support forum.

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

For me, it's the fifth data warehouse I've used. Other specialists here also use other warehousing solutions based on SQL but for the moment Synapse Analytics is the best overall solution for us primarily because of its ease of implementation and flexibility.

How was the initial setup?

Because I was not familiar with the solution beforehand, the initial setup was quite complex. I had to learn a lot in the beginning stages. I'm grateful that there is help to be found in the Microsoft forums, however, and there are also options to study for certifications that help you learn how to use the platform properly.

What about the implementation team?

It took approximately six months to implement Azure Synapse Analytics in our organization. We set up the data warehouse features for internal use across 200 users, including data specialists, service managers, and tech workers who manage our own data and also our customers' data.

For the main deployment, we used a third-party support provider in Chile who helped us greatly.

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

We normally pay between $300 and $500 per month, which is quite expensive for how much we actually use it, performance- and usage-wise. They have a cheap version and an expensive version, and our usage usually falls in the middle ground, which makes it not as cost-effective as it could be.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated on-premises SQL solutions for data warehousing, but our main motivation for using Synapse Analytics instead is that it lets us come up with and manage customer solutions very quickly. Some specialists are still using other SQL solutions as well, however.

What other advice do I have?

There is always room for improvement with Azure Synapse Analytics, but for our use cases it works very well. 

I would rate Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics 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: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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author avatarAlexis Bustamante Duarte
Top 20Real User

Correction: We normally pay between $2000 and $2500 per month