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Category: Cloud

Querying Multiple Data Sources in Azure Synapse Analytics

James Serra walks us through querying Data Lake Storage Gen2, Cosmos DB, and a table created in an Azure Synapse serverless Apache Spark pool:

As I was finishing up a demo script for my presentation at the SQL PASS Virtual Summit on 11/13 (details on my session here), I wanted to blog about part of the demo that shows a feature in the public preview of Synapse that is frankly, very cool. It is the ability to query data as it sits in ADLS Gen2, a Spark table, and Cosmos DB and join the data together with one T-SQL statement using SQL on-demand (also called SQL serverless), hence making it a federated query (also known as data virtualization). The beauty of this is you don’t have to first write ETL to collect all the data into a relational database in order to be able to query it all together, and don’t have to provision a SQL pool, saving costs. Further, you are using T-SQL to query all of those data sources so you are able to use a reporting tool like Power BI to see the results.

Click through to see how.

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Spark Infer Schema vs ADF Get Metadata

Paul Andrew compares two techniques for retrieving metadata:

For file types that don’t contain there own metadata (CSV, Text etc) we typically have to go and figure out there structure including; attributes and data types before doing any actual transformation work. Often I’ve used the Data Factory Metadata Activity to do this with its structure option. However, while playing around with Azure Synapse Analytics, specifically creating Notebooks in C# to run against the Apache Spark compute pools I’ve discovered in most case the Data Frame infer schema option basically does a better job here.

Now, I’m sure some Spark people will probably read the above and think, well der, obviously Paul! Spark is better than Data Factory. And sure, I accept for this specific situation it certainly is. I’m simply calling that out as it might not be obvious to everyone

Read on for a comparison of the two techniques.

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MLOps with Azure Databricks and MLflow

Oliver Koernig walks us through some of the basics of MLOps using MLflow and Azure Databricks:

Most organizations today have a defined process to promote code (e.g. Java or Python) from development to QA/Test and production.  Many are using Continuous Integration and/or Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) processes and oftentimes are using tools such as Azure DevOps or Jenkins to help with that process. Databricks has provided many resources to detail how the Databricks Unified Analytics Platform can be integrated with these tools (see Azure DevOps IntegrationJenkins Integration). In addition, there is a Databricks Labs project – CI/CD Templates – as well as a related blog post that provides automated templates for GitHub Actions and Azure DevOps, which makes the integration much easier and faster.

When it comes to machine learning, though, most organizations do not have the same kind of disciplined process in place.

Read on for a demonstration of the process.

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Metadata-Driven ADF Pipelines for Synapse

Hope Foley is back:

So what’s the hard thing I want to help make easier in this post?  Metadata driven pipelines in Azure Data Factory!  I had the opportunity awhile back to work with a customer who was pulling data out of large SQL Servers to eventually land data into Azure Synapse SQL pools back when they were still Azure SQL DW.  We created a couple load pattern pipelines that used metadata in Azure SQL DB to load Synapse sql pool tables from parquet files in Azure Data Lake Storage (ADLS) Gen 2. 

Not gonna lie, the pipelines weren’t easy for me to learn to setup initially.  Big thanks to Catherine for your blog which was a life preserver in the hardest parts!  So I wanted to see if I could automate it in my old friend PowerShell. 

It would also be worth looking at some of the work Paul Andrew has done around ADF.procfwk for another approach to the problem.

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Copying an Azure SQL Database

Garry Bargsley gives us two methods for copying an Azure SQL Database:

Copying an Azure SQL Database is a vital skill when managing cloud databases. Recently, a request was received from the “business”. They wanted to create a copy of an Azure SQL Database that was in a development environment. The database has been certified and early testing was accepted. They now want an exact copy in QA to start integration testing. The process of making an Azure SQL Database copy is straightforward. There are several different ways to perform this action.

Two methods chosen will use the Azure Portal and PowerShell to demonstrate the completion of this request.

Click through for the demos.

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Tips for Optimizing Dedicated SQL Pools in Synpase Analytics

Tsuyoshi Matsuzaki shares some tips for improving query performance when using Dedicated SQL Pools in Azure Synapse Analytics:

By above BROADCAST_MOVE operation, the rows in dimension_City table are all copied in a temporary table (called TEMP_ID_3) on all distributed database. (See below.)
Since the size of dimension_City is small, then all rows in this table is duplicated in all database before joining. This time, we join only 2 tables, however, if a lot of tables are needed to join, this data movement will become large overhead for query execution.

The short version is, replicate smaller dimensions and align distribution keys for large tables which get joined together. Both of these minimize the changes of the engine needing to shuffle data between nodes. These sorts of things can make a huge difference when working with Dedicated SQL Pools, cutting query time down by an order of magnitude in some extreme cases.

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Cosmos DB Serverless

Hasan Savran takes us through a new approach to Cosmos DB pricing:

There used to be two ways for Azure Cosmos DB to bill you for the services it provides. Those were Manual Provisioned throughput and Auto scale provisioned throughout.          Provisioned throughput is number of request units available for your applications to use per second. For example, Let’s say you picked 400 Request Units. That means your application’s budget is 400 request units per second. Depending on your needs, you can scale up or down. You can set this manually and scale up and down manually if you like. That will be the cheapest option which is 100 Request Units for $0.008 per hour. Your other option is the auto scale option, Cosmos DB scales up and down automatically with this option. All you need to tell Cosmos DB is, what the highest number it can scale up to. This option is 50% higher than the first option.

    These are great options, but they can be still be expensive for what you need.

Read on for what we know about Serverless pricing and which APIs currently support the Serverless model.

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Projecting Defensive Back Trajectories with Sagemaker

Lin Lee Cheong, et al, relay some interesting research:

NFL’s Next Gen Stats (NGS) powered by AWS accurately captures player and ball data in real time for every play and every NFL game—over 300 million data points per season—through the extensive use of sensors in players’ pads and the ball. With this rich set of tracking data, NGS uses AWS machine learning (ML) technology to uncover deeper insights and develop a better understanding of various aspects and trends of the game. To date, NGS metrics have focused on helping fans better appreciate and understand the offense and defense in gameplay through the application of advanced analytics, particularly in the passing game. Thanks to tracking data, it’s possible to quantify the difficulty of passes, model expected yards after catch, and determine the value of various play outcomes. A logical next step with this analytical information is to evaluate quarterback decision-making, such as whether the quarterback has considered all eligible receivers and evaluated tradeoffs accurately.

To effectively model quarterback decision-making, we considered a few key metrics—mainly the probability of different events occurring on a pass, and the value of said events. A pass can result in three outcomes: completion, incompletion, or interception. NGS has already created models that provide probabilities of these outcomes, but these events rely on information that’s available at only two points during the play: when the ball is thrown (termed as pass-forward), and when the ball arrives to a receiver (pass-arrived). Because of this, creating accurate probabilities requires modeling the trajectory of players between those two points in time.

For these probabilities, the quarterback’s decision is heavily influenced by the quality of defensive coverage on various receivers, because a receiver with a closely covered defender has a lower likelihood of pass completion compared to a receiver who is wide open due to blown coverage. Furthermore, defenders are inherently reactive to how the play progresses. Defenses move in completely different ways depending on which receiver is targeted on the pass. This means that a trajectory model for defenders has to similarly be reactive to the specified targeted receiver in a believable manner.

Click through for details on the study.

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Stopping and Starting an Azure Kubernetes Service Cluster

Mohammad Darab wants to save some cash (or at least Azure credits):

I remember when I first started deploying Big Data Clusters, they were on Azure Kubernetes Service utilizing the $200 credit for first time sign ups. By the time I got around to figuring out how to deploy the BDC, not only was my $200 credit gone, but I started to incur cost out of pocket.

If only there was a feature that would allow me to stop the VMs in AKS whenever I wasn’t using them. Well, I’m excited to share that Microsoft AKS (Azure Kubernetes Service) came out with a neat feature (currently in preview at the time of the publishing of this post) that allows you to stop and start your AKS cluster by running a simple command. Of course I had to try it out on BDCs and to my surprise it worked. Well, sort of. Let me explain…

Read on for more information, as well as current limitations.

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