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What is Azure Synapse Analytics & When Should You Use It?


Analytics and Big Data are key to the success of businesses of every size today, from startups and small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) like yours to large enterprises.

The rise of cloud computing contributed greatly to making big data analytics – which only large enterprises had the resources for – more affordable for SMEs like yours, with many investing in cloud-based business intelligence (BI) solutions to generate actionable insights from their data.


Research Suggestions That SMEs Can Benefit From Business Intelligence As Much As Larger Enterprises. Click Here To Find Out More.


But with a huge amount of data being stored across big data lakes, data warehouses and pipelines, it can be more difficult than expected to analyse such scattered and siloed business data to generate actionable insights for your business.

To resolve this issue, Microsoft released Azure Synapse Analytics into general availability in December 2020. An evolution of Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Synapse Analytics unifies a range of analytics workloads within your business, such as your data warehouses, data lakes, machine learning (ML), and data pipelines.

This provides your business analysts and data engineers with a single source of truth in a user-friendly interface and a common workspace in which they can manage and analyse the data generated by your business with ease.

But what exactly is Azure Synapse Analytics? Let’s find out.


What Exactly Is Microsoft Azure? Find Out More About It, And How It Can Help Your Business Here.


What Is Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics?

Demo of Azure Synapse Analytics; Source: Microsoft

Azure Synapse Analytics is a scalable, cloud-based integrated analytics service which brings together a wide range of Azure, Microsoft, and other services in a single unified development experience.

Through this, Synapse Analytics offers end-to-end cloud data warehousing, machine learning (ML) analytics and a dashboard in a single workspace. This allows your business analysts and data engineers to quickly process large volumes of your business data through SQL queries.

Azure Synapse Components

There are four main components to Azure Synapse Analytics:

SQL Pool

SQL PoolOverview of Synapse SQL Pool; Source: SQLShack

The first component, Synapse SQL Pool, provides enterprise data warehousing features. Formerly known as Azure SQL Data Warehouse, it’s a Big Data solution that stores data in a relational table format with columnar storage. It also uses Massive Parallel Processing (MPP) technology to leverage up to 60 nodes to run queries.

Apache Spark

Apache SparkExample of the Synapse Workspace; Source: SQLShack

Used for Big Data operations, Spark enables you to perform data loading, data processing, data preparation, ETLs and other tasks that are generally related to data warehousing.

Azure Synapse Data Integration

Azure Synapse Data IntegrationOverview of Synapse Analytics Pipelines; Source: SQLShack

An integrated orchestration engine identical to Microsoft’s Azure Data Factory, this service enables the creation of data pipelines and provides rich data transformation capabilities within the Synapse workspace. It supports more than 90+ data sources from Azure or open-source data warehouses or databases, amongst others.

Azure Synapse Studio

Azure Synapse StudioExample of Azure Synapse Studio ;Source: SQLShack

A web-based Microsoft software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool that allows your developers to use every feature in Synapse Analytics from a single console. It also provides features for other functions, such as debugging code, optimising performance by assessing metrics, and integrating CI/CD tools.

Now that you have a better idea of what Azure Synapse Analytics is, why should you consider using it for your SME’s analytics and Big Data needs?

Benefits of Azure Synapse Analytics

You can gain several business benefits from using Azure Synapse Analytics as the cloud-based Big Data analytics tool for your SME. Here are some of these benefits.

1. Unified Data Platform

Unified Data Platform

Synapse Analytics brings together the best of Azure’s and other data services and ensures that they work with each other seamlessly to provide a unified data analytics platform for your needs.

These services include Azure Data Warehouse, Azure Data Lake, Azure Active Directory, Azure Data Factory, Apache Spark, and Microsoft Power BI.

With this, you’ll be able to use a single web-based user interface (UT) to carry out various data tasks, such as data exploration, running experiments, and developing data pipelines that ensure an uninterrupted flow of data for generating actionable business insights.

2. ML Integration

2. ML Integration

Synapse Analytics comes with Machine Learning (ML) capabilities, which you can apply to several purposes.

The most common of these is the application of ML algorithms to facilitate data acquisition and understanding. You can use Azure Data Factory to build data pipelines that transform your business data into a format that can be consumed for ML and generate insights from that data through reports prepared via Apache Spark or serverless SQL pools.

You can also train ML models using either Apache Spark Pools or Azure Machine Learning Automated ML. These ML models can then be deployed to generate predictions within the data warehouse itself.

3. Built-in Security

3. Built-in Security

Azure Synapse Analytics comes with an array of security features, and it is compliant with almost 30 industry-leading compliance regulations such as International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), System and Organisation Controls (SOC) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), amongst others.

It supports Azure Active Directory (AD), SQL-based, and multi-factor authentication. In addition, it supports data encryption at rest and in transit, as well as classification for sensitive data.

Azure Synapse Analytics also supports row-level, column-level, and object-level security with dynamic data masking, as well as network-level security with virtual networks and firewalls.

This ensures that when your sensitive business data is being processed through Synapse Analytics, it will receive the highest level of security for data in the cloud.

4. Integrated Power BI

Integrated Power BI

Azure Synapse Analytics integrates directly with Microsoft Power BI, which comes with dashboards and visualisations that provide a robust set of analytical and reporting capabilities.


Can You Get By With The Free Version Of Power BI, Or Should You Shell Out For The Paid Version? Find Out Here.


By using Synapse Studio, your business analysts will be able to easily analyse data and generate dashboards that provide useful business insights. At the same time, your data engineers will be able to manage your business’s data pipelines in a code-free environment.

With Azure ML and Power BI integrated with Azure Synapse Analytics, your business analysts and data engineers will be able to glean actionable insights and carry out their tasks in the most effective manner.


When Should You Use Azure Synapse Analytics?

When considering the use of Azure Synapse Analytics, there are several business scenarios in which it can be beneficial:


1. Trend Prediction 

A significant and powerful application of Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics lies in its ability to centralise data from various sales channels for retailers. With Azure Synapse Analytics, retailers can seamlessly integrate data from diverse sources, eliminating data silos and enabling a comprehensive view of their business operations. Meanwhile, the tool can also help clean, process, and examine this consolidated data.


2. Omnichannel Integration and Data Analysis

By offering a unified approach to data management, Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics empowers retailers to derive more precise and actionable insights from the data. For instance, analysing customers' past purchases, browsing habits, and preferences can help retailers to gain a deeper understanding of their target audience.

This thus benefits retailers by supporting them in creating tailored services and enhancing the relevancy of their marketing efforts and offers. The result is an enhanced business strategy and customer experience that fosters loyalty, encourages repeat purchases, and drives long-term growth for the retail business.

Another application is in the context of the healthcare industry. With Azure Synapse Analytics, healthcare providers can analyse patient health data to establish the correlation between symptoms and diseases. This facilitates the identification of the most suitable course of action while enabling accurate forecasting of readmission and treatment outcomes.


3. Enhancing Visibility and Performance Tracking

Improving the process of performance tracking is another highly impactful use case for Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics. With the ability to provide users with real-time visibility into inventory levels, sales trends, this powerful analytics platform enables the sharing of accurate data that helps manufacturers establish effective collaboration with their customers.

This enhanced transparency and data accuracy enables manufacturers to make well-informed decisions regarding production, replenishment, and logistics. Meanwhile, customers can benefit from the manufacturer's improved demand forecasting in terms of minimising cases of stockouts and missed business opportunities.

On the supply chain front, Azure Synapse Analytics provides vendors with advanced analytics capabilities that enable them to gain deeper insights into their supply chain performance. By analysing critical data points such as lead times and order fulfilment, manufacturers can identify potential areas for improvement and implement targeted strategies to enhance their supply chain operations.

This optimisation of the supply chain empowers manufacturers to be more competitive in the market, responding quickly to changing demands and delivering superior customer service.


4. Fraud Detection

Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics excels in its ability to assist users in fraud detection, making it a valuable tool for financial institutions. With its robust set of tools and capabilities, Azure Synapse Analytics enables users to effectively analyse vast volumes of data and apply advanced fraud detection algorithms, resulting in actionable insights.

One of the standout features of Azure Synapse Analytics is its support for continuous monitoring of transactional activity across accounts and devices in real time. This real-time monitoring capability empowers users to swiftly identify any suspicious or fraudulent behaviour, allowing them to take immediate mitigative actions.

Through this, financial institutions can minimise the risk of financial loss and safeguard their reputation while gaining the assistance they need to meet regulatory compliance requirements and implement effective governance practices.


5. Predictive Maintenance

Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics also plays a crucial role in helping supply chains avert unplanned downtime by enabling accurate equipment failure prediction. By leveraging the platform's advanced analytics capabilities, supply chain operators can effectively analyse data from various sources to identify patterns and indicators of potential equipment failure.

This proactive approach allows them to predict and address maintenance issues before they lead to unplanned downtime, thus helping supply chains maintain uninterrupted operations. With optimised maintenance schedules, businesses can also benefit from lower maintenance costs and the ability to maximise the productive output of their resources.

In these ways, Azure Synapse Analytics empowers supply chains to achieve greater productivity and profitability.


Azure Synapse Analytics Provides A Unified Platform For Generating Useful Insights

Azure Synapse Analytics Provides A Unified Platform For Generating Useful Insights

The ability to analyse all data generated by your business processes, and generate actionable insights that inform your business decisions, is key to achieving success for your business in a digital world.

But with such a large volume of data being generated every day, and all of it is stored in various data warehouses and data lakes, actually leveraging the data your business is sitting on is easier said than done.

With Azure Synapse Analytics, you get a data analytics platform that unifies all of the data stored in your business’s systems and provides a single user-friendly UI through which your business analysts and data engineers can manage your business data to the best effect.

And this is but one of many ways that Microsoft Azure can benefit your business, should you choose it as the cloud computing platform for your business.

If Microsoft Azure sounds like the right choice of platform for your business, you might be interested to know that AFON IT is an official Microsoft vendor in Singapore. With this comes the expertise and resources to carry out an implementation of Microsoft Azure in your business.

Do give us a call at +65 6323 0901 or drop us a note, if you’d like to arrange a consultation with us.

Otherwise, if there are any other questions you might still have about Microsoft Azure, you can find the answers to them by clicking on the image below.


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