Azure SQL Data Warehouse’s new capabilities

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Igor Stanko Principal PM Manager, Azure SQL Data Warehouse

As the amount of data stored and queried continues to rise, it becomes increasingly important to have the most price-performant data warehouse. While we’re excited about being the industry leader in both of Gigaom’s TPC-H and TPC-DS benchmark reports, we don’t plan to stop innovating on behalf of our customers.

As Rohan Kumar mentioned in his blog on Monday, we’re excited to introduce several new features that will continue to make Azure SQL Data Warehouse the unmatched industry leader in price-performance, flexibility, and security.


Price-performance is a reoccurring theme in our releases because it ensures we provide one of the fastest analytics services at incredible value. With new functionalities announced today, we continue to demonstrate our commitment towards offering the leading price-performance platform.


Interactive dashboarding with result-set caching (preview):

Interactive dashboards come with predictable and repetitive query patterns. Result-set caching, now available in preview, helps with this scenario as it enables instant query response times while reducing time-to-insight for business analysts and reporting users.


Materialized views to improve performance (preview):

Another new feature that greatly enhances query performance for a wide set of queries is materialized view support, now available in preview. A materialized view improves the performance of complex queries (typically queries with joins and aggregations) while offering simple maintenance operations.


Fast scans with ordered clustered columnstore indexes (preview): 

Columnstore is a key enabler for storing and efficiently querying large amounts of data. For each table, it divides incoming data into row groups and each column of a row group forms a segment on a disk. When querying columnstore indexes, only the column segments that are relevant to user queries are read from the disk. Ordered clustered columnstore indexes further optimize query execution by enabling efficient segment elimination.



As business requirements evolve, the ability to change and adapt solution behavior is one of the key benefits of a modern data warehousing product. The ability to handle and manage heterogeneous data that enterprises have while offering ease of use and management is critical. To support these needs, Azure SQL Data Warehouse is introducing the following new functionalities to help you deal with ever-evolving requirements.


Prioritize workloads with workload importance (general availability):

Running mixed workloads on your analytics solution is often a necessity to effectively and quickly execute business processes. In situations where resources are constrained, the capability to decide which workloads need to be executed first is critical, as it helps with overall solution cost management. For instance, executive dashboard reports may be more important than ad-hoc queries. Workload importance now enables this scenario. Requests with higher importance are guaranteed quicker access to resources, which helps meet predefined SLAs and ensures important requests are prioritized.


Workload classification concept:

To define workload priority, various requests must be classified. Azure SQL Data Warehouse supports flexible classification policies that can be set for a SQL query, a database user, database role, Azure Active Directory login, or Azure Active Directory group. Workload classification is achieved using the new "CREATE WORKLOAD CLASSIFIER" syntax.


Workload importance concept:

Workload importance is established through classification. Importance influences a requester's access to system resources including memory, CPU, and IO and locks. A request can be assigned one of these five levels of importance: low, below_normal, normal, above_normal, and high. If a request with above_normal importance is scheduled, it gets access to resources before a request with the default normal importance.


Manage and query JSON data (preview):

Organizations are increasingly faced with dealing with multiple data sources and heterogeneous file formats, JSON being among the top ones, aside from CSV files. To speed up time to insight and minimize unnecessary data transformation processes, Azure SQL Data Warehouse now enables support for querying JSON data. This feature is now available in preview.


Automatic statistics maintenance and update (preview):

Azure SQL Data Warehouse implements a cost-based optimizer to ensure optimal execution plans are being generated and used. For any cost-based optimizer to be effective, column level statistics are needed. When these statistics are stale, there is potential for selecting a non-optimal plan, leading to slower query performance.




Azure SQL Data Warehouse provides one of the most advanced security and privacy features in the market. This is achieved through using proven SQL Server technology. SQL Server, as the core technology and component of Azure SQL Data Warehouse, has been the least vulnerable databases over the last eight years according to the NIST national vulnerabilities database. To expand existing Azure SQL Data Warehouse's security and privacy features, we’re announcing Dynamic Data Masking (DDM) support is now available in preview.


Protect sensitive data with dynamic data masking (preview): 

Dynamic data masking (DDM) enables administrators and data developers to control access to their company’s data, allowing sensitive data to be safe and restricted. It prevents unauthorized access to private data by obscuring the data on-the-fly. Based on user-defined data masking policies, Azure SQL Data Warehouse can dynamically obfuscate data as the queries execute, and before results are shown to users.


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