Microsoft Goes Head-On With AWS With Launch Of New ‘Unified Data Governance Platform’

Azure Purview

Hosting a virtual event last week, titled ‘Shape Your Future with Azure Data and Analytics’, Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO announced a new companion data governance service called Azure Purview. 

Tagged by the company as a ‘unified data governance platform’, Azure Purview enables enterprises to map, catalogue, understand, and manage operational and analytical data. These services are available on-premise, across multi-cloud environments, and even within SaaS applications. With Azure Preview, it would now be easier to find and classify data using built-in classifiers and Microsoft Information Protection sensitivity labels.

Azure Purview

“Purview is the only cloud service that helps you map all your data, no matter where it resides. And it provides the critical information that is required to govern data use and assess compliance risks,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. He also added that Purview provides an end-to-end view of a company’s data estate that was previously impossible.

The Azure Purview mainly includes three main components:

  • Data management: It helps in discovering, classifying, and mapping data across premises. Azure Purview can automatically find all of the organisation’s data on-premise, on cloud or even that managed by third-party providers. Further, it enables the characteristics and sensitivity evaluation of the same.

Elaborating further, it introduces the Purview Data Map that automates and manages metadata from hybrid sources. It also further helps in classifying data with built-in custom classifiers and Microsoft Information Protection sensitivity labels, consistently across SQL Server, Azure, Microsoft 365, and Power.

  • Data catalogue: It enables users to use simple web-based search to look for trusted data. It makes available visual graphs that confirm, whether or not a particular data of interest is from a trusted source.

With the Purview Data Catalog, users can search for data using technical and business terms. With the availability of interactive data lineage visualisation tools, it will now be easier to estimate where a particular data comes from. The main application of this feature is to drive business intelligence, AI, and machine learning initiatives.

  • Data governance: Azure Purview provides a bird’s-eye view of a company’s data landscape, that helps in governing the data usage. This gives key insights such as the distribution of data across environments, how it is moving, and where sensitive data is stored.

Apart from these features, working in tandem with the Microsoft Information Protection Integration, Purview will also look for ‘Personally Identifiable Information (PII), sensitive data, and pinpoint out-of-compliance data’, as per company’s official release.

When integrated with Microsoft’s BI tools, Purview can provide enhanced governance and cataloguing capabilities. This integration will help in the better discovery of hybrid data that facilitates a complete understanding of data.

Comparison With Counterpart

A similar service — Macie was introduced by Microsoft’s biggest rival AWS in 2017. A security service that uses machine learning, Macie automatically discovers, classifies, and protects sensitive data in AWS. It uses personally identifiable information (PII) to provide insight into how the data is being accessed and stored.

Further, on the business intelligence front, one cannot help but draw parallels between Purview and similar data and BI support models from AWS, called QuickSight, which has just been announced with a new update at the on-going AWS annual event re:Invent 2020.

Amazon QuickSight is a scalable and serverless machine-learning powered business intelligence service that is built for the cloud. With its machine learning capabilities, it offers BI teams an ability to perform analytics and to generate a summary of the dashboard that interprets and describes key insights from enterprise data. Amazon QuickSight facilitates access to the dashboards from any device and can be seamlessly integrated into applications, portals, and websites. 

One major advantage, as per the new update, is Amazon QuickSight Q, with which users can now ask business questions in natural language to quickly get answers. Q extracts business terminologies and the context from the user’s questions retrieves data from the source and displays the result as a number, chart or table.

Azure Synapse & Azure Synapse Analytics

Along with Azure Purview, an announcement for the general availability for the Azure Synapse and Azure Synapse Analytics was also made.

Azure Synapse Analytics was introduced to help organisations use their data and deploy AI. It was projected that with open access to an organisation’s analytics would free up skilled tech workers from dealing with managing data infrastructure.

On the other hand, Azure Synapse can query relational as well as non-relational data at ‘petabyte-scale’. As per Nadella, it combines data warehousing with big data analytics and integration into a single service that enables the modernisation of data warehouses, thus paving the way for newer SaaS applications.

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Shraddha Goled
I am a technology journalist with AIM. I write stories focused on the AI landscape in India and around the world with a special interest in analysing its long term impact on individuals and societies. Reach out to me at

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