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Reference architecture for enterprise reporting in Azure

As I mentioned in my recent blog Use cases of various products for a big data cloud solution, with so many products it can be difficult to know the best products to use when building a solution.  When it comes to building an enterprise reporting solution, there is a recently released reference architecture to help you in choosing the correct products.  It will also help you get started quickly as it includes an implementation component in Azure.  The blog post announcement is here.

This reference architecture is focused solely on reporting, for those use cases where you will have a lot of users building dashboards via Power BI and operational reports via SSRS.  You can certainly expand the capabilities to add more features such as machine learning as well as enhancing the purpose of certain products, such as using Azure SQL Data Warehouse (SQL DW) to accept large ad-hoc queries from users.  The reference architecture is also for a batch-type environment (i.e. loading data every hour) and not a real-time environment (i.e. handling thousands of events per second).

Key features and benefits include:

  • Pre-built based on selected and stable Azure components proven to work in enterprise BI and reporting scenarios
  • Easily configured and deployed to an Azure subscription within a few hours
  • Bundled with software to handle all the operational essentials for a full-fledged production system
  • Tested end-to-end against large workloads
  • You can operationalize the infrastructure using the steps in the User’s Guide, and explore component level details from the Technical Guides.  Also, check out the FAQ

You can one-click deploy the infrastructure implementation from one of these two locations, which also go into details on each step in the above diagram:

The idea is you are deploying a base architecture, then you will modify as needed to fit all your needs.  But the hard work of choosing the right products and building the starting architecture is done for you, reducing your risk and shortening development time.  However, this does not mean you should use these chosen products in every situation.  For example, if you are comfortable with Hadoop technologies you can use Azure Data Lake Store and HDInsight instead of SQL DW, or use Azure Analysis Services (AAS) instead of SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) in a VM (AAS did not support VNETs when this reference architecture was created).  But for many who just need an enterprise reporting solution, this will do the job with little modification.

Note the Cortana Intelligence Gallery has many others solutions so be sure to check them out and avoid “reinventing the wheel”.

James Serra's Blog

James is a big data and data warehousing technology specialist at Microsoft. He is a thought leader in the use and application of Big Data technologies, including MPP solutions involving hybrid technologies of relational data, Hadoop, and private and public cloud. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence architect and developer. He is a prior SQL Server MVP with over 30 years of IT experience. James is a popular blogger (JamesSerra.com) and speaker, having presented at dozens of PASS events including the PASS Business Analytics conference and the PASS Summit. He is the author of the book “Reporting with Microsoft SQL Server 2012”. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

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