Microsoft Fabric, launched on May 24-25 of 2023 at the Microsoft Build event, is an end-to-end data and analytics platform that combines Microsoft’s OneLake data lake, Power BI, Azure Synapse, and Azure Data Factory into a unified software as a service (SaaS) platform. It’s a one-stop solution designed to serve various data professionals including data engineers, data warehousing professionals, data scientists, data analysts, and business users, enabling them to collaborate effectively within the platform to foster a healthy data culture across their organizations.
What are the Microsoft Fabric key features?
Data Factory – Microsoft’s Azure Data Factory is a powerful tool that combines the simplicity of Power Query with Azure Data Factory’s scale. It provides over 200 native connectors for data linkage from on-premises and cloud-based sources. Data Factory enables the scheduling and orchestration of notebooks and Spark jobs.
Data Engineering – Leveraging the extensive capabilities of Spark, data engineering in Microsoft Fabric provides premier authoring experiences and facilitates large-scale data transformations. It plays a crucial role in democratizing data through the lakehouse model. Moreover, integration with
Data Science – The data science capability in Microsoft Fabric aids in building, deploying, and operationalizing machine learning models within the Fabric framework. It interacts with Azure Machine Learning for built-in experiment tracking and model registry, empowering data scientists to enhance organizational data with predictions that business analysts can incorporate into their BI reports, thereby transitioning from descriptive to predictive insights.
Data Warehouse – The data warehousing component of Microsoft Fabric offers top-tier SQL performance and scalability. It features a full separation of computing and storage for independent scaling and native data storage in the open Delta Lake format.
Real-Time Analytics – Observational data, acquired from diverse sources like apps, IoT devices, human interactions, and more, represents the fastest-growing data category. This semi-structured, high-volume data, often in JSON or Text format with varying schemas, presents challenges for conventional data warehousing platforms. However, Microsoft Fabric’s Real-Time Analytics offers a superior solution for analyzing such data.
Power BI – Recognised as a leading Business Intelligence platform worldwide, Power BI in Microsoft Fabric enables business owners to access all Fabric data swiftly and intuitively for data-driven decision-making.
What are the Advantages of Microsoft Fabric?
Unified Platform: Microsoft Fabric provides a unified platform for different data analytics workloads such as data integration, engineering, warehousing, data science, real-time analytics, and business intelligence. This can foster a well-functioning data culture across the organization as data engineers, warehousing professionals, data scientists, data analysts, and business users can collaborate within Fabric.
Multi-cloud Support: Fabric is designed with a multi-cloud approach in mind, with support for data in Amazon S3 and (soon) Google Cloud Platform. This means that users are not restricted to using data only from Microsoft’s ecosystem, providing flexibility.
Accessibility: Microsoft Fabric is currently available in public preview, and anyone can try the service without providing their credit card information. Starting from July 1, Fabric will be enabled for all Power BI tenants.
AI Integration: The private preview of Copilot in Power BI will combine advanced generative AI with data, enabling users to simply describe the insights they need or ask a question about their data, and Copilot will analyze and pull the correct data into a report, turning data into actionable insights instantly.
Microsoft Fabric – Licensing and Pricing
Microsoft Fabric capacities are available for purchase in the Azure portal. These capacities provide the compute resources for all the experiences in Fabric from the Data Factory to ingest and transform to Data Engineering, Data Science, Data Warehouse, Real-Time Analytics, and all the way to Power BI for data visualization. A single capacity can power all workloads concurrently and does not need to be pre-allocated across the workloads. Moreover, a single capacity can be shared among multiple users and projects, without any limitations on the number of workspaces or creators that can utilize it.
To gain access to Microsoft Fabric, you have three options:
- Leverage your existing Power BI Premium subscription by turning on the Fabric preview switch. All Power BI Premium capacities can instantly power all the Fabric workloads with no additional action required. If you already have a Power BI Premium subscription, you can simply turn on the Fabric preview switch. This means you can enable Microsoft Fabric’s capabilities as part of your existing Power BI Premium subscription without having to do anything else. All the capacities you have with your Power BI Premium subscription can be used to power the full range of workloads in Microsoft Fabric. In other words, you can use your existing Power BI Premium resources to run all of the data and analytics tasks that Microsoft Fabric can handle.
- Start a Fabric trial if your tenant supports trials. If you’re not sure about committing to Microsoft Fabric yet, you can start a trial if your tenant (an instance of Azure Active Directory) supports it. A trial allows you to test the service before deciding to purchase. During the trial period, you can explore the full capabilities of Microsoft Fabric, such as data ingestion, data transformation, data engineering, data science, data warehouse operations, real-time analytics, and data visualization with Power BI.
- Purchase a Fabric pay-as-you-go capacity from the Azure portal. If you decide that Microsoft Fabric suits your needs and you don’t have a Power BI Premium subscription, you can directly purchase a Fabric capacity on a pay-as-you-go basis from the Azure portal. The pay-as-you-go model is flexible because it allows you to pay for only the compute and storage resources you use. Microsoft Fabric capacities come in different sizes, from F2 to F2048, representing 2 – 2048 Capacity Units (CU). Your bill will be determined by the amount of computing you provision (i.e., the size of the capacity you choose) and the amount of storage you use in OneLake, the data lake built into Microsoft Fabric. This model also allows you to easily scale your capacities up and down to adjust their computing power, and even pause your capacities when not in use to save on your bills.
Microsoft Fabric is a unified product for all your data and analytics workloads. Rather than provisioning and managing separate compute for each workload, with Fabric, your bill is determined by two variables: the amount of compute you provision and the amount of storage you use.
Follow the capacities that you can buy in the Azure portal:
Check out this video from Guy and Cube which breaks down the details on pricing and licensing.
How to activate the Microsoft Fabric Trial version?
Login to Microsoft Power BI with your Developer Account
You will observe that asides from the OneLake icon at the top left, everything looks normal if you are familiar with Power BI Service.
Enable Microsoft Fabric for your Tenant
Your Screen will Look like this
So far, we’ve only enabled Microsoft Fabric at the tenant level. This doesn’t give full access to Fabric resources as can be seen in the illustration below
So, Let’s upgrade the Power BI License to Microsoft Fabric Trial
For a smoother experience, You should create a new Workspace and add Microsoft Fabric Trial License as can be seen below
As you can see, while creating a new Workspace, you can now Assign Fabric Trial License to it. Upon creation, we are able to take full advantage of Microsoft Fabric
This video by Guy and Cube explains the steps for getting the Microsoft Fabric Trial.
Microsoft Fabric is currently in preview but already represents a significant advancement in the field of data and analytics, offering a unified platform that brings together various tools and services. It enables a smooth and collaborative experience for a variety of data professionals, fostering a data-driven culture within organizations. Let´s wait for the next steps from Microsoft.
That’s it for today!