March 8

Starting Down the Azure Road

Microsoft Azure Logo

Over the past few months at work, we have been hearing about the possibility that we will be moving our ETL package away from Alteryx to a Microsoft based tool. For the team that I work in, this would be a significant shift as a good 85% of our workload is made easier through the use of Alteryx with a library of Macros and flows that have been built up over the past four or five years. Due to the lack of clarity provided by the working group that was setup to assess the migration, I decided to take a bit of a look at Microsoft’s ETL offerings as I knew we would either be left on Alteryx (potentially with a heavily limited number of licenses) or thanks to some research, we would either be left with SQL Server Integration Services or Azure based tools like Azure Data Factory.

As time went on, it started to become more and more likely that Alteryx was going to be replaced due to the cost of licensing. Fortunately I had been working in SSIS by replicating several of our key data ETL flows to make sure that all the functionality we needed was available. I was hoping for SSIS partially as it meant I could work with Visual Studio at work (I am not a developer professionally, just hobby) but alas it was not meant to be, last week it was confirmed that Azure tools would be the solution that we are moving to in the near future. Unfortunately, nothing was clear around how much access we will have to Azure, what functionality we can use without having to raise support tickets, this makes the difference in how usable it will be for our team, especially in the initial replication process.

Until questions are answered and we get given access to actually work in Azure, I thought that it would be a good time to redeem the free 30 day Azure trial and start to build some workflows with dummy data that could loosely represent the core functionality of what will be needed for work. It is a bit of a win-win situation, I get to learn how to work with Azure Data Factory, Logic Apps, Databricks etc, there is no cost to me (for 30 days) and it gives me a bit of a head start at work when it comes to the understanding of how everything works. On another note, I thought that if I document my learning throughout my time with Azure, it would provide a good reason to reboot the blog and provide reference points for anyone else who wishes to start their time with Azure.