In this blog post, I will explain some of the key concepts, personas, and terminologies related to Microsoft Fabric, a SaaS analytics platform for the era of AI. If you are not familiar with the basic concepts of SaaS analytics platforms and how Microsoft Fabric fits in, I recommend you read my previous blog post, where I explain them in detail.
Microsoft Fabric is an experience-based platform, meaning users can interact with it depending on their roles and personas. For example, a data engineer can use the Data Engineering experience to perform large-scale data transformation through the lakehouse. A data scientist can use Data Science experience to develop AI models on a single foundation without data movement. A business analyst can use the Power BI experience to create and consume interactive reports and dashboards. And a data steward can use the Data Activator experience to govern and secure data across the organisation.
The Data Activator experience is in private preview and is not available for public use yet!
Microsoft Fabric Terminologies
To understand how Microsoft Fabric works, it is crucial to know some of the terminologies that are used in the platform. Some of them are existing terms that are also used in Power BI or Azure services, while some of them are new and specific to Microsoft Fabric. Here are some of the key terms that you should know:
- Tenant: A tenant is a dedicated instance of Microsoft Fabric that is provisioned for an organisation or a department within an organisation. A tenant has its own set of users, groups, permissions, capacities, workspaces, items, and experiences. A Fabric tenant is associated with an Azure Active Directory (AAD) tenant, which is a directory service that the organisations own when they sign up for a Microsoft cloud service such as Azure, Microsoft 365, Power BI, etc. AAD provides identity and access management for cloud applications. A tenant in Microsoft Fabric can only be accessed by users who belong to the same AAD tenant.
- Capacity: Capacity is a term that refers to the amount of resources available to support a computing service. In the context of SaaS applications, capacity refers to the ability of the system to handle a certain amount of load or demand based on the required resources and infrastructure such as compute power (CPU, RAM, etc.), storage, network bandwidth and whatnot. As explained in my previous post, Microsoft Fabric is a SaaS platform. So, from a Microsoft Fabric perspective, capacities are sets of resources that are allocated to a tenant to run analytics workloads. The capacities sit in a tenant, and the available resources can be shared by multiple workspaces or dedicated to a single workspace for better performance and isolation. Microsoft Fabric capacities are available in various F SKUs that offer different levels of resources and features. For more information about capacities and SKUs, see Microsoft Fabric Capacity and SKUs.
- Workspace: A workspace is a logical container that holds a collection of items and artefacts. A workspace can have one or more owners who can manage its settings and permissions and one or more members who can access its items. A workspace can also be assigned to a capacity to run its analytics workloads. In Microsoft Fabric, workspaces are based on Power BI workspaces.
The above terms also apply to Power BI, so they have been used within the community for a long time. The hierarchy starts with an organisation acquiring their potential Tenants, and then the purchased Capacities are available to tenants and the Workspaces that are assigned to capacities.
The following terms are new and apply to Microsoft Fabric:
- Persona: A persona is a role representing a typical user of Microsoft Fabric with a specific set of goals, needs, expertise and preferences. For example, a Data Engineer persona describes someone who wants to transform large volumes of data from various sources and make it available for analysis. A Data Scientist persona describes the users who wish to apply advanced analytics techniques such as machine learning and deep learning to derive insights from data. A Business Analyst persona is one who wants to explore data visually and create compelling stories using charts and graphs.
- Experience: In Microsoft Fabric, an experience is a group of features tailored for a specific persona and specific tasks. For instance, the Synapse Data Engineering experience provides a Spark-based platform with great authoring experiences for data engineers. The Synapse Data Science experience offers an integrated environment for data scientists to develop AI models using Python or R. The Power BI experience provides a familiar interface for business analysts to create and consume interactive reports and dashboards. So, Power BI users can do whatever they used to without any changes in their roles and responsibilities.
- Item: An item is a physical artefact that is created or used in Microsoft Fabric, such as a notebook, a dataset, a report, or a dashboard. An item belongs to a workspace and can be accessed by the members of that workspace. Some of these artefacts, such as reports and dashboards, can be shared with other users or groups outside the workspace, subject to the permissions and policies defined by the owners or administrators.
The experiences in Microsoft Fabric are just a group of features available to the users, and they do not refer to a specific artefact. The experiences are there to guide the users on what tools are available to them. For instance, a data engineer can use the Synapse Data Engineering experience to create a notebook item that performs data transformation and create a Lakehouse to land the data in Parquet format. A data scientist can use the Synapse Data Science experience to create Spark notebooks, conduct experiments and recognise patterns within the data using trained machine learning models and whatnot.
I hope this blog post has helped you to understand some of the key concepts, personas, and terminologies related to Microsoft Fabric. I believe by understanding these key concepts, the users can better navigate the platform and learn how to leverage the features that cater to their goals and tasks. By keeping personas in mind, users can quickly grasp the tools and functionalities available to them, facilitating a smoother learning experience.