The jobs of administrators tasked with transferring data with Azure Data Factory, Microsoft's cloud-based data integration service, are about to get easier. Microsoft launched a preview of an interactive tool called Azure Data Factory Copy Wizard, which provides a new, code-free approach to moving data between the company's various cloud database offerings.
"Data is the raw material for analytics and our goal is to allow moving diverse data (structure, unstructured, small, big, etc.) to and from Azure in a friction-free, performant and reliable manner," Anand Subbaraj, principal program manager of Microsoft Azure Data Factory, said in a March 18 announcement. "With this release, customers can easily move data between Azure BlobStorage, Azure SQL, Azure SQL DW, Azure Data Lake and On-Premises SQL Server using a simple and code-free wizard."
The Azure Data Factory Copy Wizard is in its earliest stages, noted Subbaraj. Over the next few weeks, the company plans to enable all of the 20-plus connectors currently supported by Azure Data Factory.
Serving as the backbone of Cortana Analytics Suite, a collection of big data processing, machine-learning and analytics technologies, Azure Data Factory automates the process of gathering data for the purposes of deriving insights from it. It enables enterprises to draw from multiple and disparate data sources for their business intelligence (BI) and analytics systems, with a minimum of human intervention.
The new wizard further minimizes the time it takes users to feed data through Azure Data Factory. Microsoft intends for the tool to make it easier for developers to tap into cloud-scale predictive analytics capabilities and help data scientists quickly upload data and perform experiments.
Setting up a data movement pipeline from an on-premises SQL Server to Azure SQL Data Warehouse can be accomplished in three major steps using the wizard. Essentially, users select a data source, a destination and finally configure the settings.
Of course, these steps require some technical knowledge, including connecting to an SQL database, selecting tables and running queries to narrow down specific data. Nonetheless, the Azure Data Factory Copy Wizard provides data exploration and schema mapping tools that are designed to simplify the process.
"Rich visual data store navigation, simple transformations, data previews, schema mapping and intuitive copy settings make creating simple and complex data movement tasks possible in minutes," added Subbaraj. Further, users can run copy operations on a one-time or recurring basis from on-premises, cloud and local desktop copies.
While Microsoft has been working furiously to beef up Azure's enterprise analytics capabilities, those efforts haven't precluded the Redmond, Wash., tech titan from partnering with rivals.
A month ago, Campbell, Calif.-based big data specialist Saama Technologies announced that it had entered into a partnership with Microsoft to bring its industry-specific analytics technologies and services to Azure. Saama's client base is largely made up of large businesses that are highly reliant on data analytics for their strategic business decisions. Customers include Apple, Brocade, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Delta Dental, PayPal, Salesforce.com and Unilever.