Microsoft Announces General Availability Of Azure Data Catalog

Microsoft has announced the upcoming general availability of Azure Data Catalog, the newest addition to big data and advanced analytics services, which includes Cortana Analytics Suite.
Julie Strauss, Principal Group Program Manager in the Data Group at Microsoft, states,
“We are very excited to announce the upcoming* general availability of Azure Data Catalog, the latest addition to the big data and advanced analytics services included in Cortana Analytics Suite. Data Catalog is an enterprise metadata repository that enables the self-service discovery of data assets.”
Data Catalog is a completely managed Azure service which describes, indexes, and provides information on how to access any registered data asset. Microsoft informs us that it has provided capabilities which enables any employee, whether a business analyst data scientist or developer, to register, discover, understand, and consume data which exists across the enterprise.
With the explosive growth of enterprise data and more powerful storage capabilities, users end up spending more time trying to find, understand, and access the data which is required, rather than analyzing that data for insights. Microsoft informs its users that data catalog addresses this particular challenge and is designed to close the gap between users seeking information and users producing it.
Microsoft in its official blog states,
“IT departments are typically the gatekeepers to enterprise data today. Since the metadata management systems used today are often locked-down, IT can become a bottleneck, being inundated with a wide variety of requests for data from users across the enterprise. In contrast to these traditional systems, typically designed for IT only, Data Catalog aims to engage the broader data ecosystem within an enterprise."

Microsoft has gone on to state that the feedback from users has helped them to shape the new capacities which are now being made available. Given below are the instances as per the official Microsoft blog:
  • Data Catalog supports the most business-critical data sources used across enterprises today, ranging from on-premises assets like SQL Server, Oracle, Teradata and SAP HANA to cloud-based assets like Azure Data Lake, Azure Blobs, HIVE and HDFS. A full list of supported data sources can be found here.
  • Built-in support for requesting access to registered data assets is now provided out of the box. This allows users to easily understand and follow existing processes defined by data source owners on how to get access to the source system and its data upon discovery.
  • We have included additional improvements allowing data consumers to more readily understand the quality and characteristics of registered data assets. These include asset level documentation and support for data profiling, enabled as part of the metadata extraction process.
  • Newly added support for Power BI Desktop and SQL Server Data Tools have broadened the scope of tools that users can launch, to connect to data sets directly from the Data Catalog in the context of a data asset. These tools are provided in addition to the existing support for opening data sets using Excel and Report Manager.
  • A new home page has been designed to provide an optimized experience for repeat users. New capabilities include the ability to pin individual assets to the home page, the ability to save high value search results and to easily filter search by top experts, and by most frequently used data sources.
Microsoft states,
“Data Catalog offers a simple, easy to use central portal experience that provides a single entry point for all metadata management activities related to registering, managing, annotating, discovering and sharing data assets. The value and capabilities of the Data Catalog can be extended through open REST APIs. These APIs enable easy integration with 3rd party data tools to allow users to publish, discover and consume data assets in the context of the data tools they are already using.”
In addition to being the key components of Cortana Analytics, Data Catalog  also goes offers a standalone in a free and standard edition. The free edition is an open model which allows users to register, enrich, understand, discover and consume data from any supported source. The standard edition also provides an additional governance capability which enables users to take ownership of registered assets and apply asset-level authorization, allowing restricted visibility of metadata to a limited number of users. 

For more information about capabilities of Azure Data Catalog, visit here

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