Databricks vs Azure Synapse Analytics


Introduction to Databricks vs Azure             

We are almost at the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, and in these past few years, we can confidently say that technology and human life quality have improved more than they did in decades. It didn’t take much time for us to realize that with great technology comes an even greater amount of data. Data is around us everywhere, and data analysis is nothing new to humankind. With new technological improvements, ways to analyze data have also vastly improved. In this context, we will explore Databricks vs Azure Synapse Analytics to understand how these advancements are shaping the field of data analysis.

For businesses and professionals in the field of data analytics, understanding the tools available for big data processing is crucial. Databricks and Azure Synapse Analytics are two of the most powerful platforms in this space, each offering unique features and capabilities. Having knowledge of these tools not only helps in choosing the right platform for your data needs but also ensures efficient and effective data management, analysis, and decision-making.

In this article, we will explore Databricks vs Azure Synapse Analytics, comparing Databricks, one of the leading tools used in big data analytics, and Azure Synapse Analytics, Microsoft’s native platform that brings together data warehousing, big data analysis, and time-series analysis under one umbrella. We will delve into the key components of these two products, their similarities, and their differences, providing you with the insights needed to make informed decisions in your data strategy.


Before going into the technical definition let’s have some understanding of what Databricks is. From the name itself one could get a rough understanding of what Databricks is. We know that Bricks, individually, aren’t going to be very useful but they’re a fundamental part of any building. Similarly, Databricks gather the Data that are scattered like bricks into useful insights. With that info let’s dive into the original definition.

Databricks is a unified, open analytics platform for building, deploying, sharing, and maintaining enterprise-grade data, analytics, and AI solutions at scale. The Databricks Data Intelligence Platform integrates with cloud storage and security in your cloud account and manages and deploys cloud infrastructure on your behalf. Databricks is mainly used for machine learning, data engineering and real-time analytics.

Let’s go through the key components of Databricks next,


The collaborative environment where users can create, organize, and share data science and analytics projects. It includes notebooks, libraries, dashboards, and files



Interactive documents that can contain code, visualisations, and narrative text. Notebooks support multiple languages such as Python, R, SQL, and Scala, and are used for data exploration and model development.



Groups of virtual machines that provide the computational resources needed to run notebooks, jobs, and other tasks. Clusters can be autoscaling, adjusting the number of nodes based on workload.



Automated tasks that run notebooks or other code on a scheduled basis. Jobs are used for ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) processes, data pipelines, and other repeatable tasks.


Delta Lake

An open-source storage layer that brings ACID* transactions to big data workloads. Delta Lake ensures data reliability and supports scalable data pipelines.

  • ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) means


An open-source platform integrated with Databricks for managing the end-to-end machine learning lifecycle, including experimentation, reproducibility, and deployment of machine learning models.

Databricks SQL

A SQL analytics tool that allows users to run SQL queries on data lakes, create visualizations, and build dashboards. It provides a familiar SQL interface for data analysis and reporting.


Data Management

Tools and features for ingesting, processing, and managing large datasets. This includes integration with various data sources, ETL* capabilities, and support for data governance.

ETL- Extract Transform Load


Collaborative Features

Real-time collaboration on notebooks, comments, version control, and Git integration. These features enable teams to work together seamlessly on data projects.

Security and Compliance

Robust security features including data encryption, access control, and compliance with various regulatory standards (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA). Databricks provides tools to ensure data privacy and security.

APIs and Integrations

Extensive APIs and integrations with various data sources, machine learning frameworks, and third-party tools. This allows for flexible and customizable workflows.

Performance Optimizations

Tools and features to optimize the performance of big data workflows, such as caching, data partitioning, and optimized queries. Databricks aims to maximize the efficiency of data processing and analytics. 

Azure synapse analytics

Next let’s move into Azure synapse analytics. Azure synapse analytics Formerly known as Azure SQL Datawarehouse, is an enterprise analytics service that accelerates time to insight across data warehouses and big data systems. It brings together the best of SQL technologies used in enterprise data warehousing, Apache Spark technologies for big data, and Azure Data Explorer for log and time series analytics.

The key components of the Azure synapse analytics are


A unified environment that integrates big data and data warehousing tasks, providing tools for data integration, exploration, preparation, management, and serving.


A unified environment that integrates big data and data warehousing tasks, providing tools for data integration, exploration, preparation, management, and serving.


SQL Pools

Dedicated SQL pools for scalable, high-performance data warehousing. They allow for the storage and querying of large datasets with massively parallel processing (MPP*).

*MPP- Massively parallel processing (MPP) is a collaborative processing of the same program using two or more processors. By using different processors, speed can be dramatically increased.

009 QSL Pools 1 1

Serverless SQL Pools

On-demand query service that allows users to query data stored in Azure Data Lake without needing to provision resources beforehand. It’s useful for exploratory analysis and ad-hoc querying.

Apache Spark Pools

Integrated Apache Spark for big data processing and machine learning. Spark pools provide a managed Spark environment for scalable and distributed data processing.


Data Integration

Includes Azure Data Factory for orchestrating data workflows. It provides data ingestion and transformation capabilities with support for numerous data sources and destinations.

Synapse Studio

An integrated development environment that provides a web-based interface for developing and managing analytics solutions. It includes tools for data exploration, SQL editing, data flow creation, and pipeline management.

Data Lake Storage

Built-in integration with Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2, providing a scalable and secure storage solution for big data analytics. It supports both structured and unstructured data.

Security and Compliance

Features robust security measures including data encryption, managed private endpoints, network security, role-based access control, and compliance with industry standards (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA).

Analytics Runtime

Optimized runtimes for SQL, Spark, and other analytics workloads to enhance performance and efficiency. This includes intelligent caching, query optimization, and workload management.

Power BI Integration

Seamless integration with Power BI for data visualization and business intelligence. Users can easily create and share dashboards and reports using data stored and processed in Synapse.

Machine Learning Integration

Integration with Azure Machine Learning for building, training, and deploying machine learning models. This enables advanced analytics and predictive modeling within the Synapse environment.

Data Exploration and Management

Tools for exploring, managing, and querying data, including data discovery, lineage, and metadata management. These features help users understand and utilize their data more effectively.

Hybrid Data Integration

Capability to connect and integrate data across on-premises, multi-cloud, and SaaS applications, providing a comprehensive view of data regardless of its location.

Performance Tuning

Advanced features for performance tuning and optimization, such as adaptive caching, workload isolation, and resource governance to ensure efficient and predictable performance.

Similarities and differences between Databricks vs Azure synapse analytics

Main Similarities

  1. Both platforms offer data processing and analytics capabilities at scale.
  2. They support integration with various data sources and formats.
  3. Both platforms enable collaboration among data engineers, data scientists, and analysts.
  4. They provide tools for data exploration, visualization, and machine learning.

Main Differences

  1. Azure Synapse Analytics is an integrated analytics service that combines data warehousing and big data analytics. It’s designed for structured and semi-structured data. Databricks, on the other hand, is a unified analytics platform primarily focused on Apache Spark for processing large-scale data and is more suitable for unstructured data and machine learning workloads.
  2. Azure Synapse Analytics has built-in integration with other Azure services like Azure Data Lake Storage, Azure Machine Learning, and Power BI. Databricks also integrates well with Azure services but is more agnostic, supporting various cloud providers and on-premises environments.
  3. Pricing models differ: Azure Synapse Analytics offers on-demand and provisioned resources pricing, while Databricks pricing is based on DBUs (Databricks Units) for compute resources.
  4. In terms of deployment, Azure Synapse Analytics can be deployed as a serverless or provisioned service, while Databricks is typically deployed as a managed service on cloud platforms.

Conclusion of Databricks vs Azure Synapse

When it comes to data analysis the important thing regarding choosing the analysis platform is the user preferences. Databricks is a tool specially made for big data analysis meanwhile synapse analytics is like Jack of all trades. If a person is more familiar with azure services and wants to have one place where he can do all integration, analysis, and visualizations, synapse analytics works best meanwhile Databricks is more focused on big data analytics and machine learning which is flexible to use with non-Microsoft products as well.


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