Isn’t that the same thing, as a linked server?
At first sight, it sure looks like it. But there are a couple of differences. Linked Servers are instance scoped, whereas PolyBase is database scoped, which also means that PolyBase will automatically work across availability groups. Linked Servers use OLEDB providers, while PolyBase uses ODBC. There are a couple more, like the fact that PolyBase doesn’t support integrated security, but the most significant difference from a performance perspective is PolyBase’s capability to scale out – Linked Servers are single-threaded.
Read the whole thing. Ben asks and answers the question of whether PolyBase replaces ETL. You’ll want to read his answer. My answer (and I won’t tell you how close it is to his because I want you to read his article) is that PolyBase will only replace a fraction of total ETL and will act as an ETL process in a larger percentage of cases. I can see a pattern where you virtualize the data as external tables and then connect them together locally to insert into local facts and dimensions, for example. But there are too many things you can do with other ETL platforms which make me say this will never be a full replacement.