Microsoft Fabric: Everything You Need to Know


October 3, 2023

Microsoft Fabric is a unified data analytics platform that brings together all of Microsoft’s data and analytics services in one place. It includes services for data lake, data engineering, data integration, data science, real-time analytics, and business intelligence.

The fabric is designed to simplify data and analytics for organizations of all sizes. It provides a single platform for all your data and analytics needs, so you don’t have to worry about stitching together different services from multiple vendors.

Microsoft Fabric combines new and existing Power BI, Azure Synapse, and Azure Data Factory components into a single integrated environment. These components are then presented in various customized user experiences.


Components of Microsoft Fabric

  • Power BI:

Power BI is the world’s leading Business Intelligence platform. It ensures that business owners can access all the data in Fabric quickly and intuitively to make better decisions with data.

Good Read: Top 15 Power BI Dashboard Examples For Better Insights

  • Data Factory:

Azure Data Factory is a cloud-based data integration service that allows you to create and manage data pipelines. You can use Data Factory to move data between different data sources, such as on-premises databases, cloud storage, and SaaS applications. You can also use Data Factory to transform data, such as cleaning data, filtering data, and aggregating data.

  • Synapse Data Engineering:

Data engineering is the process of designing, building and maintaining infrastructures and systems that enable organizations to collect, store, process, and analyze large volumes of data. Microsoft Fabric Spark’s integration with Data Factory enables notebooks and spark jobs to be scheduled and orchestrated. In the data engineering process, we create a lakehouse (data lake store) to store all your data (processed & unprocessed) and use Apache Spark to transform and prepare processed data to share with the business.

  • Synapse Data Science:

Data science in Microsoft Fabric is the process of using scientific methods, processes, algorithms, and systems to extract knowledge and insights from data. This includes exploring your data, building machine learning algorithms, or using existing machine learning algorithms to predict insights into your data. This will help business users to make future decisions.

  • Synapse Data Warehouse:

Synapse Data Warehouse is a fully managed, petabyte-scale analytics service that combines the best of SQL Data Warehouse and Apache Spark. It provides a unified experience to build, query, and manage data warehouses and big data analytics.

Synapse Data Warehouse is built on a distributed architecture that can scale to meet the needs of any organization. It can handle large volumes of data from a variety of sources, including on-premises databases, cloud storage, and SaaS applications.

  • Synapse Real-Time Analytics:

Synapse Real-Time Analytics is a fully managed service that enables you to analyze streaming data in real-time. Rapidly ingest, transform, transform, and query any data source in any format from 1 GB to 1 PB and then visualize and share the insights.

Benefits using of Microsoft Fabric

  • Single platform for your data & analytics:

Fabric provides a single platform for all your data and analytics needs. This makes it easier to manage and govern your data, and it also makes it easier to share data between different teams. All resources are smoothly interconnected so there are fewer connectivity issues.

  • Scalability:

Microsoft Fabric is highly scalable and can handle any size of data set. This makes it ideal for organizations of all sizes, from small businesses to large enterprises.

  • Security:

Microsoft Fabric provides several built-in security features to protect your data. This includes encryption, role-based access control, and auditing.

Potential Challenges of Microsoft Fabric

  • Cost:

Microsoft Fabric can be expensive to use, especially for small enterprises. Because it comes with a set of Azure resources, it is a bit costlier compared to opting for individual resources, especially Synapse Analytics Workspace and Lakehouse are costly. If you need a complete set of data & analytics solutions – including storage, big data processing, analytics & visualization, then we can go with Microsoft Fabric.

  • Complexity:

Fabric can be complex to set up and manage, especially for organizations that are not familiar with cloud computing or data analytics.

  • Vendor Lock-In:

Fabric is a Microsoft product, so organizations that use Fabric may be locked into Microsoft’s ecosystem.

How Microsoft Fabric can be Used for Enterprise clients?

  • A retail company can use Fabric to build data pipelines to ingest and transform data from its point-of-sale systems, customer relationship management (CRM) system, and website. This data can then be loaded into the company’s data lake for analysis.
  • A manufacturing company can use Fabric to build data pipelines to ingest and transform data from its production lines, sensors, and quality control systems. This data can then be loaded into the company’s data lake for analysis to identify areas for improvement and reduce costs.
  • A healthcare organization can use Fabric to build data pipelines to ingest and transform data from its electronic health records (EHR) system, patient monitoring systems, and research databases. This data can then be loaded into the organization’s data lake for analysis to improve patient care, develop new treatments, and reduce costs.
  • A finance firm can use Fabric to build data pipelines to ingest and transform data from its expense, payroll, and finance systems. This data can then be loaded into the organization’s data lake for analysis to monitor inflows & outflows, measure profitability, forecast revenue numbers, check trends, and many more.

Data engineering in Microsoft Fabric can be used by organizations of all sizes in any industry to get more value from their data.

About Microsoft Fabric Subscription

To use Microsoft Fabric, you need to purchase a separate subscription. Microsoft Fabric is not included in the Azure portal, but it can be integrated with Azure.

To purchase a Microsoft Fabric subscription, you can go to the Microsoft Fabric website and sign up for a free trial. Once the trial has ended, you can purchase a paid subscription.

Microsoft Fabric subscriptions are priced based on the number of Capacity Units (CUs) that you purchase. CUs are a measure of the computing power of a Microsoft Fabric capacity. The more CUs you purchase, the more powerful your Microsoft Fabric capacity will be.

Microsoft Fabric also offers two types of subscriptions: Azure SKUs and Microsoft 365 SKUs. Azure SKUs are billed per second with no commitment, while Microsoft 365 SKUs are billed monthly or yearly with a monthly commitment.

Azure SKUs are the recommended capacities for Microsoft Fabric. They offer several advantages over Microsoft 365 SKUs, including:

  • Pay as you go with no time commitment.
  • Scale your capacity up or down using the Azure portal.
  • Pause and resume your capacity as needed.

If you are already an Azure customer, you can purchase an Azure SKU for Microsoft Fabric directly from the Azure portal.

If you are not an Azure customer, you can still purchase an Azure SKU for Microsoft Fabric by signing up for a free Azure account.

Once you have purchased a Microsoft Fabric subscription, you can create a Microsoft Fabric capacity and start using Microsoft Fabric.

About Microsoft Fabric Cost Based on SKU and Capacity

The cost of Microsoft Fabric is based on the SKU and the number of Capacity Units (CUs) that you purchase. The SKU determines the amount of computing power that you get, while the number of CUs determines the number of workloads that you can run simultaneously.

The following table shows the cost of Microsoft Fabric based on SKU and capacity:

SKU Capacity Units (CUs) Pay-as-you-go (hourly) Reserved capacity (hourly)
F16 16 $2.88 $2.30
F32 32 $5.76 $4.60
F64 64 $11.52 $9.20
F128 128 $23.04 $18.43
F256 256 $46.08 $36.87
F512 512 $92.16 $73.75
F1024 1024 $184.32 $147.50

Reserved capacity offers a discount of up to 20% on the pay-as-you-go price. However, you must commit to using a certain number of CUs for a certain period.

For example, if you purchase an F128 SKU with 128 CUs, the pay-as-you-go price will be $23.04 per hour. If you commit to using the capacity for one year, you can get a discount of 20% and the price will be reduced to $18.43 per hour.

To choose the right SKU and capacity for you, you will need to consider the following factors:

  • The type of workloads that you will be running on Microsoft Fabric
  • The amount of computing power that you need.
  • Your budget

If you are not sure which SKU and capacity to choose, you can use the Microsoft Fabric capacity planner to help you estimate your needs.

Already Using Azure Resources, Need to Purchase Microsoft Fabric?

If you are looking for a unified analytics platform that can help you improve your data management, performance, and scalability, then Microsoft Fabric is worth considering.

However, it is important to note that Microsoft Fabric is still in preview. This means that it is not yet fully released and may have some bugs or missing features. It is also more expensive than Azure Data Factory, Azure Storage, and Azure Notebooks.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to purchase Microsoft Fabric depends on your specific needs and requirements. If you are happy with your current setup, then there is no need to switch to Microsoft Fabric. However, if you are looking for a more unified and powerful analytics platform, then Microsoft Fabric is a good option to consider.

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