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Many people in Australia believe that—just because Microsoft operates a vast suite of products—organisational data flows seamlessly between companies’ apps.

However, as anyone who’s actually worked within the Microsoft ecosystem knows, individual products have largely acted like islands up until now, with each requiring its own approach to the way data assets are accessed, maintained, and utilised while modernising their business.

Microsoft Fabric has the potential to eliminate data silos for the first time ever, using AI to power real-time analytics and business intelligence by centralising companies’ data analytics, data lakes, data engineering, and data integration operations.

But despite all the hype, can Microsoft Fabric really solve your organisation’s data challenges? Here’s what Microsoft Fabric is and how it’s poised to change the way your dev and data engineers work.

What is Microsoft Fabric?

If you’re wondering what is Microsoft Fabric, officially, it’s “an all-in-one analytics solution for enterprises that covers everything from data movement to data science, real-time analytics, and business intelligence”.

Breaking that down, you can think of the Microsoft Fabric data analytics platform as an umbrella under which all of Microsoft’s data sources and programs can live.

Previously, teams needed to treat each Microsoft product as a separate entity, making it difficult to leverage data stored in different programs and data lakes. Microsoft Fabric changes this by allowing you to work seamlessly across different products and data sets as if they were one.

Much of this new collaboration occurs within OneLake—a key component of Microsoft Fabric that you can think of as OneDrive for your data. The OneLake data hub is a single, unified data lake that has the potential to govern all of your raw data—including operational, enterprise, structured, and unstructured data sources—from all of your different products in one spot.

By connecting data in this way, organisations can streamline their use, administration, and governance of data, driving both faster data analysis and stronger data insights.

The benefits of Microsoft Fabric

While some of these benefits have yet to be fully realised due to Microsoft Fabric’s early stage, the long-term potential of the unified data analytics platform for solving data challenges can’t be minimised.

  • More seamless data integration. Through Microsoft Fabric, services like Azure Data Factory and Data Flow can use the same logic and technology, making it easier to stream data between different products for a seamlessly integrated solution.
  • Shortcuts for querying data. Because Microsoft Fabric allows business users to query data through shortcuts, it eliminates the need to create multiple copies of the same data.
  • Visibility into licensing and configurations. Beyond data integration optimisation, Microsoft Fabric empowers managers and leads to see all of their licensing and security configurations in one portal within Microsoft Fabric, rather than having to log in to each product separately.
  • Maximises the use of Microsoft licenses. Products like Synapse are now covered by Microsoft Fabric, potentially opening them up to customers that haven’t used them before or who don’t realise they can be interlinked and intertwined.
  • Cost savings. Stronger visibility into licensing through Microsoft Fabric helps organisations to identify and prune underutilised licenses.
  • Time savings. Smoother data integrations and operations save teams time, allowing them to redirect their focus toward higher-value, more interesting work.
  • High usability for managers. Because the Microsoft Fabric portal is extremely user-friendly, managers may be able to handle licensing, security, and product-related activities that previously required the involvement of the security or dev teams.
  • Improves security through stronger sensitivity labelling and shared security configurations. Through Microsoft Fabric, teams can apply sensitivity labels to their data once, rather than having to do so within each product. Managers can also view how much sensitive information is stored in the instance and who has accessed it at a high level. Additionally, individual products can inherit baseline Microsoft Fabric security configurations, removing the onus from product owners to establish them (though product-specific configurations can be customised as well).
  • Reduces data discrepancies and creates a single source of truth. OneLake and other Microsoft Fabric components make it easier for your dev teams and data scientists to manage data integration and rules across Microsoft products.

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What do you need to know before implementing Microsoft Fabric?

Despite all of this potential, companies should be aware that Microsoft Fabric still has some limitations in its current state.

For instance, to take advantage of all of Microsoft Fabric’s benefits, you must create new products in the platform when you first start using them. Older products and instances—as well as their data pipelines—will need to be merged into Microsoft Fabric to get the same benefits, whilst some Microsoft programs have been made redundant and are no longer available in Microsoft Fabric at all.

Additionally, you’ll need to have your permissions and user access roles locked down before using Microsoft Fabric—otherwise, anyone with the right credentials will be able to view anything stored in OneLake.

Fortunately, there is a Microsoft Purview hub in Microsoft Fabric that makes it easy to manage data governance, monitoring, and loss prevention for these purposes (and it’s a significant improvement on the previous setup that required you to go through Microsoft 365 admin settings).

Getting started with Microsoft Fabric

Ultimately, Microsoft Fabric is still new, and its capabilities are changing every day.

To leverage the platform to solve your data integration challenges, you’ll want the support of an experienced partner like Canon Business Services Australia (CBS) who works closely with Microsoft to track new releases for the benefit of our customers.

To learn more about Microsoft Fabric and the specific data challenges it can solve for your company, reach out to CBS today.

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