Upgrading to Microsoft Fabric: A guide for current Azure Synapse users 

December 4, 2023

If you’re already a Synapse user and are considering integrating Microsoft Fabric, it likely suggests a desire to leverage additional capabilities or features offered by Microsoft Fabric within the context of your data and analytics processes. 

Microsoft Fabric could bring benefits such as enhanced data visualization, improved user interfaces, or specific tools that facilitate the development and management of applications. Integrating Microsoft Fabric with Synapse will enable you to create more robust and user-friendly applications or dashboards for your data-related tasks. 

This blog explores how the transition to Microsoft Fabric affects customers currently using the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) version of Azure Synapse, providing clarity on the impact on your existing investments. 

Azure Synapse Analytics: A powerful PaaS for enterprise analytics 

Azure Synapse Analytics is a comprehensive cloud-based analytics service designed to accelerate insights from both data warehouses and big data systems. It seamlessly integrates familiar SQL technologies used in traditional data warehousing with the power of Azure Data Factory pipelines, Apache Spark for big data processing, and Azure Data Explorer for log and time series analysis. 

This powerful combination provides organizations with a single, unified platform for all their analytical needs. Whether you’re working with structured data in warehouses or exploring the vast potential of big data, Azure Synapse Analytics empowers you to unlock deeper insights and make informed decisions faster. 

Microsoft’s long-term commitment to Azure Synapse Analytics 

Microsoft is fully committed to the continued success of Azure Synapse Analytics. They have no plans to retire the service, and customers can confidently rely on it for their current and future analytics needs. Customers can continue to deploy, operate, and expand the PaaS offering of Azure Synapse Analytics. 

In the unlikely event that these plans change, Microsoft will provide advance notice and ensure a smooth transition for its customers. They are committed to adhering to the support commitments outlined in the Modern Lifecycle Policy, guaranteeing the continued success of its users. 

Big Data Analytics Evolves: Introducing Microsoft Fabric 

The next generation of Microsoft’s big data analytics products is now a part of Microsoft Fabric. This revolutionary platform ushers in a new era of data management and analytics, offering unprecedented capabilities and efficiency. 

At the core of Fabric lies OneLake, a unified data storage abstraction organized as a logical data mesh. This innovative approach provides centralized governance with granular control while ensuring data remains readily accessible. Additionally, Fabric’s intuitive data hub offers a personalized experience, streamlining data exploration and analysis. 

A key feature of Fabric is the separation of storage and computing. All Fabric engines store data in OneLake, utilizing a single, open data format. This separation allows for unprecedented flexibility and scalability, enabling the deployment of complex pipelines, data warehouses, and data engineering workflows. Furthermore, Fabric integrates seamlessly with data science, observability, and real-time analytics tools, creating a unified environment for comprehensive data insights.  

With Microsoft Fabric Onelake, you can unlock a world of possibilities for efficient and powerful data solutions. Microsoft Fabric empowers its customers to do more with data by focusing its innovation efforts on this transformative platform. 

Navigating forward: Planning the evolution of your Azure PaaS Synapse Analytics Solutions 

As mentioned earlier, there’s currently no immediate need for abrupt changes, as your existing MS Azure Synapse Analytics PaaS solutions remain fully supported by Microsoft, ensuring uninterrupted operations. Your ongoing deployments can continue seamlessly, backed by our comprehensive support. 

However, it’s astute to envision a future integrated with Microsoft Fabric for your analytics solutions. As a forward-thinking business, it’s prudent to contemplate the next steps in evolving your data ecosystem. Here’s a strategic roadmap to guide your planning: 

  • Assess your current setup: Take stock of your existing Synapse Analytics framework. Identify its weaknesses and strengths. Evaluate its alignment with evolving business needs and technological advancements. 
  • Envision the Microsoft Fabric landscape: Familiarize yourself with the capabilities and potential benefits offered by Microsoft Fabric. Understand how its integration can enhance your analytics ecosystem, empowering you with advanced tools and functionalities. 
  • Strategic alignment: Align your business objectives with the capabilities of Microsoft Fabric. Determine how the transition or integration can amplify your analytics potential, improve decision-making, and foster innovation within your organization. 
  • Future-proofing strategies: Strategize the migration or integration process. Consider phased approaches, test environments, and seamless data transfer strategies to minimize disruptions while maximizing the benefits of the transition. 
  • Training and skill enhancement: Invest in training and upskilling your team. Ensure they possess the necessary expertise to leverage the benefits of Microsoft Fabric, fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation. 
  • Engage in Proof of Concept (PoC) projects: Consider undertaking pilot projects or Proof of Concepts (PoCs) to test the waters before a full-scale migration or integration. These initiatives can provide invaluable insights and mitigate risks. 
  • Engage with industry experts: Collaborate with consultants and Microsoft partners like Confiz or industry specialists in Azure PaaS and Synapse Analytics solutions. Leverage their expertise to navigate this transition effectively. 

Microsoft Fabric: A future-proof option 

While utilizing your existing Microsoft Azure Synapse solutions, it’s worthwhile considering the potential of Microsoft Fabric for your future analytics needs. This innovative platform offers several advantages, including: 

  • Unified data storage: OneLake provides centralized governance and granular control over your data, organized as a logical data mesh for intuitive access and exploration. 
  • Enhanced scalability and flexibility: Fabric separates storage and computing, allowing for independent scaling of resources and facilitating the deployment of complex analytical workflows. 
  • Openness and interoperability: Fabric utilizes a single, open data format, ensuring compatibility with various tools and technologies, and fostering smoother integration and collaboration. 

Microsoft Fabric represents a significant upgrade to all analytics engines by Microsoft, making them better, quicker, and more scalable. Additionally, there is a lot to discover about the new engines and their optimal application. The fabric gives business users new empowerment and reimagines cooperation. However, it goes much beyond having better engines or greater integration. 

There is no need to duplicate data from one engine to another thanks to the consistent, open-source format. You can query data with any other technology after shaping it using the technology of your choosing. 

Fabric offers innovative methods to integrate your data into your analytics environment seamlessly. Its primary objective is to minimize expenses and reduce friction. For instance, it facilitates database mirroring, provides effortless access to MS 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Dataverse data, and offers convenient shortcuts within and outside Azure. Familiarizing yourself with these technologies will empower you to maximize Fabric’s potential, optimizing it for enhanced cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and agility. 

What implications does it have for your solution? 

You may utilize different engines and technologies in your analytics solution. Since Microsoft Fabric is a comprehensive analytics platform, it contains new and improved analytics features for the products you are already familiar with. 

Fabric offers new features that are incomparable to the PaaS Synapse Analytics product already available. The Fabric SQL Engine may run on any OneLake artifact (warehouses, lakehouses, mirrored databases) with the same level of performance, scalability, and security. Additionally, it allows for cross-artifact operations, which eliminates the need for additional copies, and Power BI, for instance, can now analyze real-time streaming data or Spark output when running in DirectLake mode. 

These modifications make solutions easier to understand and more effective by doing away with the requirement for extra stages and duplicate data. Your solution might become much more affordable and easier. 

To illustrate these possible simplifications, here is an example of a typical PaaS Azure Synapse Analytics architecture below, along with a potentially faster alternative in Fabric. 

Example: Data Lake, from Synapse to Fabric 

You can prepare your data in an Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 (ADLSg2) lakehouse (usually with Spark, Synapse, or Azure Databricks), load it into a Synapse SQL Dedicated Pool using a pipeline, and then create a report using Power BI or another BI tool. 

While upgrading to Fabric engines, you can keep your current solution intact. However, you can simplify this solution: 

  • You can use your current ADLSg2 data, prepared with Synapse Spark or Azure Datrabricks (via shortcuts), with a Data Engineering Lakehouse in Microsoft Fabric. 
  • The SQL Analytics Endpoint lets you directly apply the security rules from the Dedicated Pool to the Lakehouse. There is no need for a dedicated capacity or a pipeline that copies data from the lake to your warehouse. 
  • Power BI can now run directly over the Lakehouse with performance comparable to import by using the new DirectLake mode. You can still use the SQL Analytics Endpoint to access your other BI applications. 
  • Your Lakehouse data will be automatically optimized for all other Fabric engines (while also being stored in an open format) if you migrate your Notebooks and Spark Jobs to Fabric Spark. 

Deploy a migration strategy  

Microsoft is actively advancing migration processes and providing accessible tools to facilitate a seamless transition. With a focus on prioritizing existing PaaS Synapse Analytics customers, the provider is committed to enhancing the migration experience for this specific user base. 

Once you have learned enough about Fabric and evaluated the product, you’ll naturally develop confidence in the new Fabric engines and the right migration technologies. The transition of your solution to Fabric can occur at your own pace; for some customers, this shift may happen sooner, while for others, it may unfold over years. Importantly, there’s no pressure to expedite the migration process. Microsoft remains steadfast in supporting existing users, ensuring you can migrate whenever you feel prepared without the imposition of a strict timeline. 

As you prepare to migrate your solution to Microsoft Fabric, you’ll be glad to know that your existing Synapse Reserved Instances (RIs) won’t become obsolete. You can readily exchange your 1- or 3-year Synapse RI purchases for 1-year Fabric RIs, ensuring continued application of your reservation discounts within the Fabric environment. 

Furthermore, if you wish to expand your RI commitment to your Fabric portfolio, you’ll have access to significant savings. The Fabric RI program offers discounts exceeding 40% compared to Fabric’s pay-as-you-go pricing, allowing you to optimize your data analytics costs while benefiting from Fabric’s advanced capabilities. 

Upgrade to Microsoft Fabric with confidence: Choose Confiz as your Data and AI Partner 

As you navigate the transition to Microsoft Fabric for your analytics solutions, trust Confiz as your dedicated Data and AI Partner. Our seasoned experts specialize in Azure PaaS, Synapse Analytics, and Microsoft Fabric integration, ensuring a smooth and future-ready upgrade. 

We’re more than just a partner; we’re your guiding force in this transformative journey. From strategic planning to efficient implementation, our tailored approach guarantees a seamless transition that maximizes efficiency and minimizes disruption. 

Beyond the transition, our commitment continues with ongoing support, training, and optimization to ensure you unlock the full potential of Microsoft Fabric architecture. 

At Confiz, we believe in the power of innovation through technology. We’re committed to fostering a culture of growth, learning, and advancement within your organization. Contact us today at marketing@confiz.com and let’s unlock new possibilities and drive your analytics solutions to unprecedented heights.