Azure SQL Data Warehouse : 101

Target Audience:

Data Platform Engineer or Data Platform Consumer looking to understand the basic concepts of Azure Data Warehouse ahead of implementing a solution on the technology.


Azure SQL Data Warehouse is maturing rapidly and becoming a serious option for both Microsoft Azure, and hybrid data platform solutions looking for analytics capability. Many businesses have selected Azure SQL Data Warehouse and are making the transition from on-premises Data Warehouse solutions to the Azure cloud for analytics. Making sure that you are ready for this journey is important as there are some very large differences between running a SQL Server with a Data Warehouse, as opposed to running Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

This objective of this session is to help you prepare for making that journey, ensuring that you are going to be able to make informed choices about the direction you will travel. Allowing you to avoid the potholes, confidently select a fork in the road, and be sure that you can make it to your destination.

The key areas that we will plan for are:

  • Understanding the key differences between the MPP architecture and SQL Server world many of us are familiar with
  • Exploring concurrency mechanisms and how this will inform decisions around user access methods
  • Different schema and technology options that are available for accessing data sources, internal and external
  • How data will drive design elements of the Data Warehouse schema with a view on what, and what not to do
  • What loading patterns exist for getting data into Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • The demarcation between Microsoft and us when it comes to maintenance operations

Getting to grips with these facets of how Azure SQL Data Warehouse works will help make sure that when you deliver the solution backed by Azure SQL Data Warehouse, that it is going to do what you need.

Why I Want to Present This Session:

There are a number of misconceptions around the use of Azure SQL Data Warehouse and how it can be used. This session looks to cover the basics to help people break through these and gain an appreciation for the fundamentals, and help them start evaluating it.

Additional Resources:

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John Martin

Product Manager at SentryOne
John (@SQLDiplomat) is the Product Manager at SentryOne, looking after SQL Sentry and Plan Explorer. John is also a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, with over a decade of experience with SQL Server and the Microsoft Data Platform. Having worked with SQL Server for the last decade, John has gained a level of experience as a DBA, Developer, and former Microsoft Premier Field Engineer. Gaining a broad understanding of how you can use, and misuse, SQL Server.

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3 Comments. Leave new

Sepand Gojgini
April 17, 2017 12:04 pm

It would be great if the session briefly covers the main difference with competitor such as Redshift or Snowflake.


Thanks for the abstract! I can tell you put a lot of thought into this.

I’d step back just a little and define the perfect attendee for this session. Do they have the choice about whether their organization is going to go into Azure SQL DW? When they come to this session, is it already pre-determined that they’re going into SQL DW?

If that answer is no, then the session would probably be better recast as, “Should you go into Azure SQL DW?” In that case, you do big picture compare and contrast with on-prem, SQL DW, Redshift, etc., and it’s targeted more at decisionmakers. It’s going to have a wider audience because more people are just curious.

The way the abstract is written, I think the answer is actually yes – they’re already determined to go into Azure SQL DW. I would just make that a little more clear in the start of the abstract, along the lines of “You’re used to working with data warehouses on-premises, and now you’re about to build your first Azure SQL DW.” That way, you can assume certain things about the audience (like they know what MPP and SMP are.) It’s going to have a narrower audience, but you can go pretty deep on technology (like this abstract suggests.)

It’s just tough to balance both – as Sepand’s comment shows, some people aren’t even sure what Azure SQL DW is or why they’d use it, and they’re not the right people to attend a session that covers concurrency mechanisms, for example.


    Thanks for that, I guess I subconsciously assumed that it was an obvious next step for those in the Microsoft ecosystem. Stepping back and remembering that there are other options out there is something that I should have made myself do.

    I think my changes make it a little clearer that it is aimed at those who will be making the jump to Azure SQL DW, rather than those who will be evaluating it against the other offerings available.


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