Azure SQL | Read Data Lake Files using Synapse SQL External Tables

Azure SQL | Read Data Lake Files using Synapse SQL External Tables

Azure SQL can read Azure Data Lake storage files using Synapse SQL external tables. Synapse SQL enables you to implement T-SQL functionalities in Azure SQL that read the content of CSV, PARQUET, and JSON files that are placed on Azure Data Lake storage.

There are many scenarios where you might need to access external data placed on Azure Data Lake from your Azure SQL database. Some of your data might be permanently stored on the external storage, you might need to load external data into the database tables, etc.

Azure SQL supports the OPENROWSET function that can read CSV files directly from Azure Blob storage. This function can cover many external data access scenarios, but it has some functional limitations.

You might also leverage an interesting alternative –  serverless SQL pools in the Azure Synapse Analytics. In this article, I will explain how to leverage a serverless Synapse SQL pool as a bridge between Azure SQL and Azure Data Lake storage.

This article applies both on Azure SQL database and Azure SQL managed instance. External tables with type RDBMS can be used in any Azure SQL flavor. Just note that External tables are still in public preview.

Let us first see what is Synapse SQL pool and how can be used from Azure SQL.

What is a serverless Synapse SQL pool?

A  serverless Synapse SQL pool is one of the components of the Azure Synapse Analytics workspace. It is a service that enables you to query files on the Azure storage. You can access the Azure Data Lake files using the T-SQL language that you are using in Azure SQL.

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