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Introduction to Azure Data Catalog

With the rise of self-service business intelligence tools, like Power BI, and an increased engagement with data in the workplace, people’s expectations of where they can find expert information about data has changed. Where previously there would an expert that people would have to book time with in order to understand data, now people expect to get quick and detailed information about the data assets that an enterprise holds and maintains without going through a single contact. With Azure Data Catalog, data consumers can quickly discover data assets and gain knowledge about the data from documentation, tags and glossary terms from the subject matter experts. This post aims to give a brief introduction to Azure Data Catalog and what it can broadly be used for. What is Azure Data Catalog?Azure Data Catalog is a fully managed Azure service which is an enterprise-wide metadata catalogue that enables data discovery. With Azure Data Catalog, you register; discover; annotate; and, for some sources, connect to data assets. Azure Data Catalog is designed to manage disparate information about data; to make it easy to find data assets, understand them, and connect to them. Any user (analyst, data scientist, or developer) can discover, understand, and consume data sources. Azure Data Catalog is a one-stop central shop for all users to contribute their knowledge and build a community and culture of data.What can Azure Data Catalog be used for?As mentioned in the earlier headings, Azure Data Catalog can be used for data asset management; data governance; and data discovery. For data asset management, this means knowing what data is available and where; for data governance teams, this means answering questions like: where is my customer data? or what does this data model look like?; for data discovery, this means knowing which data is suitable for particular reports and who you can go to if you have any questions. There are some common scenarios for using Azure Data Catalog that Microsoft has put together, and it’s well worth reading to get a fuller understanding of what Azure Data Catalog can be used for.

Instant Bot: deploying a Bot in minutes with Azure Bot Service

I had been playing around with the Bot Framework for a while but hadn’t really got anywhere, largely due to having enough time to create something worthwhile, when I came across the Azure Bot Service whilst I was trawling through the documentation of the Bot Framework. The Azure Bot Service is currently in preview and allowed me to quickly author and deploy a basic bot for the purpose of this post and walkthrough. Creating the BotLike most services in Azure, creating the bot is easy and requires the following inputConfiguring the BotSetting up the Bot is a bit more involved. Once the bot has been created, you’ll be presented with the following screenThe App ID and Password are auto-generated by Microsoft, but you will need to make note of the password and store it securely as it is only displayed once in the app registration process. Next you want to select the language in which the bot is developed and deployed. You have the choice of C# or NodeJS. I opted for C# as it’s a language I am most familiar with. Choose your template, accept the T’s & C’s and your bot is ready to be deployed!Deploying the BotThe Bot has been created and configured, displaying its source code which can be further tweaked in the browser or Visual Studio. You can also embed your Bot in a number of existing apps, websites and services.Chatting with the BotThe basic bot isn’t the most stimulating of conversational partners but it is satisfying to see your creation talk back, even if it repeats what you have just told it. The Bot Framework opens up many possibilities to make the services you offer engaging in a conversational way. The Azure Bot Service makes the Bot Framework that much more accessible to quickly deploy bots and have them out there, engaging with users.