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Day: July 3, 2023

A Primer on Databricks Unity Catalog

Beginner’s Hadoop gives us an overview:

The Databricks Unity Catalog is a feature provided by Databricks Unified Data Analytics Platform that allows you to organize and manage metadata about your data assets, such as tables, databases, and views. It provides a centralized metadata repository that enables users to discover, understand, and collaborate on data assets within a Databricks environment. The Unity Catalog integrates with various data sources and supports different metadata management capabilities.

Read on for an overview of what it does.

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Listing Available Properties in Azure Data Factory

Andy Leonard builds a list:

Did you know Azure Data Factory (ADF) will actually list available properties? It will. One of the things I cover in my ADF training titled Master the Fundamentals of Azure Data Factory is this handy troubleshooting tip.

Read on to see how, though I’d personally like something which is a bit faster than waiting for the thing to execute and getting back what my choices are.

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On-Demand Loading and Direct Lake in Power BI

Chris Webb gives us the beginnings of an origin story:

For any Power BI person, Direct Lake mode is the killer feature of Fabric. Import mode report performance (or near enough) direct on data from the lake, with none of the waiting around for data to refresh! It seems too good to be true. How can it be possible?

The full answer, going into detail about how data from Delta tables is transcoded to Power BI’s in-memory format, is too long for one blog post. But in part it is possible through something that existed before Fabric but which didn’t gain much attention: on-demand loading. 

Click through for another blog post on the topic and an idea of how these tie together.

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An Overview of Data Modeling

Nikola Ilic provides an overview of data modeling:

In recent years, I’ve done dozens of training on various data platform topics, for all kinds of audiences. When teaching various data platform concepts and techniques, I find one of the concepts particularly intimidating for many business analysts, especially those who are just starting their journey. And, that is the concept of data modeling.

This is a good introduction and does a particularly good job of explaining why we have logical and physical data models. I have one medium-sized quibble with an otherwise-great article: 3rd Normal Form is nowhere near sufficient for a logical data model, and I’d make the strong case (in fact, I do make that case) that 5th Normal Form should be the standard and that 3NF is an anachronism which you should entirely replace with Boyce-Codd Normal Form.

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Loading Data from On-Premises SQL Server into Microsoft Fabric

Reitse Eskens spends an hour or so:

In my previous blogs, I’ve written about Fabric and all the cool things it can do. Thing is, my load tests were based on files. Either CSV or Delta. But in reality, a lot of data comes from an on-premises database server. In reality, you might connect to a SQL 2008 instance or maybe even older. Truth be told, I haven’t got an instance in that version/edition around anymore. So I had to use SQL Server 2019, a version I’m encountering more often nowadays.

For this blog, it won’t make much sense to create a humongous database and try to get all the data in. Fabric will cope, the major issue (in my experience) is the internet connection between my local database and the Fabric environment. One thing I’m really curious about is if Fabric will have the Link capability that was introduced for Synapse Analytics and SQL Server 2022.

There’s no Link capability currently available, so Reitse does the next-best thing and uses Fabric pipelines.

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