Welcome to the data-driven world of tomorrow! As executives and decision-makers, you are already well-acquainted with the indispensable role data plays in your business. Microsoft, with its continuous commitment to enhancing business intelligence, has introduced a game-changer: the Microsoft Fabric. This platform unifies a wide range of Microsoft data experiences, including Data Integration, Data Engineering, Real-Time Analytics, Machine Learning, AI offerings, and Business Intelligence with Power BI. This article delves into how Fabric's new features can significantly empower Power BI developers and bring a transformative change to your business.
Before we jump into the specifics of Fabric's new features, let's get our feet wet with understanding its overall potential. Fabric is designed to facilitate creators at scale across an organization with SaaS simplicity. This is achieved through its unique 'Universal Compute Capacities' feature. This feature reserves a specific amount of compute to drive Fabric experiences and enables an unlimited number of users to create or consume these experiences. The only limit is the amount of compute required to serve data to your users. This can be easily increased with a SKU upgrade or on-demand through the use of autoscale.
The SKU System
Fabric comes with an SKU system that uses Capacity Units (CU) to measure the available compute power. Each SKU is denoted by a size in CU, and this system is designed to be familiar to Power BI users. The SKU system offers a robust way to manage your compute resources and align them with your business needs. Moreover, during the preview period, only production Power BI workloads will drain capacity compute resources in purchased capacities.
Capacity Metrics: An Intelligent Governance Feature
One of the most intriguing features that Microsoft Fabric offers is the 'Capacity Metrics'. It acts as a governance feature that allows admins to monitor the performance of workloads and their usage compared to purchased capacity. This feature unifies telemetry from all Fabric workload experiences into a single set of turnkey analytics, providing a comprehensive view of how your resources are being utilized.
Capacity metrics in Fabric uses a ribbon chart to show trends of usage across the different experiences hosted in Fabric. This data is aggregated daily, providing a clear view of usage trends. This feature also allows users to analyze the usage of universal compute capacity resources by the individual "Items" used across their Tenant. Usage is tracked by total Capacity Unit Seconds (CU(s)) and includes examples of Items such as a Power BI report, a Dataflow or Synapse Notebook consuming data out of the open delta parquet format hosted in OneLake.
Resource Utilization and Throttling
One of the significant advantages of the capacity metrics in Fabric is its ability to show resource utilization in comparison to the throughput purchased for a given capacity. This feature provides valuable insights into the efficiency of resource usage and helps identify potential bottlenecks. Larger capacity SKUs provide more throughput and scale for all workload experiences. However, if production workloads use 100% of capacity resources, it may result in throttling. To address this, preview workloads experiences can exceed 100% of capacity resources without throttling, helping admins to plan the rollout of Fabric across the organization with confidence.
Capacity Utilization View
The Capacity Utilization view has been enhanced with a Logarithmic scale for easy analysis of consumption during low utilization periods. It also has a new control to access Timepoint Drill via the explore button easily. This feature enhances the capacity metrics by providing more granular insights into usage trends.
The timepoint drill is another notable feature of Fabric. It allows users to zoom in to explore usage data with the full fidelity used by the SaaS capacity platform. This view shows the amount of capacity provided by the given SKU per 30-second evaluation period, along with the breakdown of interactive (user-driven) and background (service-driven operations). This feature is particularly useful for understanding what operations contributed to the usage of capacity resources, determining what caused a capacity to autoscale, and identifying a user who scheduled or ran an operation.
Getting Started with Microsoft Fabric
Microsoft Fabric is currently in preview, but it's easy to get started. You can try out everything Fabric has to offer by signing up for the free trial—no credit card information required. Everyone who signs up gets a fixed Fabric trial capacity, which can be used for any feature or capability from integrating data to creating machine learning models. Existing Power BI Premium customers can simply turn on Fabric through the Power BI admin portal. After July 1, 2023, Fabric will be enabled for all Power BI tenants. Once you've enabled your trial, you can access the latest version of Capacity Metrics experience in Fabric. Existing customers of Capacity Metrics app should use a link to install the latest version purpose-built for Fabric. By Fabric general availability (GA), P SKU customers will be required to use the latest version of the Capacity Metrics app.
The introduction of Microsoft Fabric opens new horizons for Power BI developers. Its focus on unifying various Microsoft data experiences under one umbrella, combined with the Capacity Metrics feature, provides a powerful platform for data-driven decision-making. Its universal compute capacities feature and SKU system further ensure that the platform can scale as per the organization's needs, making it an invaluable tool for businesses of all sizes. With its current preview stage, businesses have the unique opportunity to explore and leverage these exciting new features to optimize their data analytics and intelligence capabilities.
Q: What is Microsoft Fabric and how does it benefit Power BI users?
A: Microsoft Fabric is a new offering that builds on the SaaS foundation used by millions of Power BI Premium customers. It significantly extends its capabilities to unify a wide range of Microsoft Data experiences including Data Integration, Data Engineering, Real Time Analytics, Machine Learning, AI offerings, and Business Intelligence with Power BI. This allows Power BI users to have a more integrated and seamless experience when handling data, whether it's for analytics, machine learning, or business intelligence.
Q: What are universal compute capacities in Microsoft Fabric?
A: One of the most significant advantages of Microsoft Fabric is the introduction of universal compute capacities. These are capacities that reserve a specific amount of compute to drive Fabric experiences and enable an unlimited number of users to create or consume from Fabric experiences. This means that the consumption of Fabric experiences is only bound by the amount of compute required to serve data to your users and can be easily increased with a SKU upgrade or on-demand through the use of autoscale.
Q: How does the SKU system work in Microsoft Fabric?
A: Each SKU in Microsoft Fabric is denoted by a size in Capacity Units (CU), which are used to measure the compute power available for that SKU. The SKU system is designed to allow customers to select the amount of compute power they need, providing flexibility and scalability to meet varying data needs.
Q: What is the purpose of capacity metrics in Microsoft Fabric?
A: Capacity metrics in Fabric is a governance feature for admins to monitor the performance of workloads and their usage compared to purchased capacity. Capacity metrics unifies telemetry from all Fabric workload experiences into a single set of turnkey analytics. This allows for better monitoring, management, and decision making in terms of scaling up or down your resources.
Q: How does capacity utilization work in Microsoft Fabric?
A: The capacity utilization view shows the utilization of resources compared to the amount of throughput purchased for a given capacity. When production workloads use 100% of capacity resources, it may result in throttling. Preview workloads experiences can exceed 100% of capacity resources without throttling. This allows admins to plan for the rollout of Fabric across the organization with more confidence.
Q: What is the Timepoint Drill feature in Microsoft Fabric?
A: The Timepoint Drill feature in Microsoft Fabric allows users to zoom in to explore usage data with the full fidelity used by the SaaS capacity platform. This is particularly useful for understanding what operations contributed to usage of capacity resources, determining what caused a capacity to autoscale, and identifying a user who scheduled or ran an operation.
Q: How can I get started with Microsoft Fabric?
A: Microsoft Fabric is currently in preview. You can try out everything Fabric has to offer by signing up for the free trial. No credit card information is required. If you're an existing Power BI Premium customer, you can simply turn on Fabric through the Power BI admin portal.
Q: What happens after the Microsoft Fabric trial period ends?
A: After the trial period ends, you can continue using Microsoft Fabric by selecting a SKU that best suits your needs. The SKU you choose determines the compute power you have at your disposal.
Q: Can I use Microsoft Fabric even if I'm not a Power BI user?
A: Yes, while Microsoft Fabric extends the capabilities of Power BI, it also unifies a wide range of Microsoft Data experiences. This means even if you're not a Power BI user, you can still make use
of the data integration, data engineering, real-time analytics, and machine learning features offered by Fabric.
Q: What should I do if I see that my capacity resources are frequently hitting 100% utilization?
A: If your capacity resources are frequently hitting 100% utilization, it could be a sign that you need to scale up your resources. In such cases, you might want to consider upgrading your SKU to one that offers more compute power. Additionally, look into the operations that are consuming the most resources to see if there are any opportunities for optimization. Using the Timepoint Drill feature in Microsoft Fabric can be particularly helpful for this.
Is a solution and ROI-driven CTO, consultant, and system integrator with experience in deploying data integrations, Data Hubs, Master Data Management, Data Quality, and Data Warehousing solutions. He has a passion for solving complex data problems. His career experience showcases his drive to deliver software and timely solutions for business needs.