Basic Concept to Start with Azure Databricks

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In this lesson will give go step by step concept building for Azure Databricks and spark.

Prerequisite for Azure Databricks

Technical Skills:

  • Basic understanding of cloud computing: Familiarity with cloud concepts like storage, databases, and virtual machines will help you navigate the Azure environment where Databricks operates.
  • Programming experience: Knowing at least one programming language supported by Databricks is essential for writing code to process and analyze your data. Popular choices include Python, Scala, SQL, R, and Java.
  • Data analysis concepts: Understanding fundamental data analysis techniques like data cleaning, transformation, and visualization will allow you to make sense of your data insights.
  • Command-line interface (CLI) experience: While not mandatory, knowing how to use the CLI for basic tasks like navigating files and directories can be helpful for advanced users.

Access and Permissions:

  • Azure subscription: You’ll need an Azure account to access and manage Databricks resources.
  • Permission to create Azure Databricks workspace: This requires administrator privileges within your Azure subscription.
  • Data access rights: You need access to the data you want to process and analyze in Databricks. This may require permissions to access storage accounts, databases, or other data sources.

Software and Tools:

  • Web browser: Databricks is accessed through a web interface, so any modern browser like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari will work.
  • Databricks Workspace: This is your virtual workspace within Azure where you’ll create and manage clusters, notebooks, jobs, and other resources.
  • Data source clients (optional): Depending on your data sources, you might need specific client libraries or tools to interact with them within Databricks.


Imagine you’re a data analyst who wants to analyze customer behavior data stored in Azure Data Lake Storage. You would need:

  • Basic knowledge of Azure and cloud storage concepts.
  • Experience writing Python scripts for data analysis.
  • Understanding of data manipulation and visualization techniques.
  • Permission to access Azure Data Lake Storage and create a Databricks workspace.
  • Python libraries (e.g., pandas) for working with data in Databricks.
  • Web browser to access the Databricks interface.

What is Big data analytics before Apache Spark and its limitation

What is Big Data Analytics?

Big data analytics involves processing and analyzing large datasets that are too voluminous and complex for traditional data processing tools. These datasets often contain diverse data structures, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data.

Before Apache Spark, big data analytics typically involved:

  1. Data storage in distributed file systems: Platforms like Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) were used to store and manage large datasets across multiple servers.
  2. Data processing with MapReduce: MapReduce, a programming model, divided the data processing tasks into smaller, parallel operations, enabling distributed processing across multiple nodes in a cluster.
  3. Specialized tools for different tasks: Separate tools were required for different analytics tasks, such as Pig for data cleaning and Hive for data warehousing.

Challenges of Big Data Analytics before Apache Spark:

  • Performance: Slower due to disk-based operations and overheads in task management.
  • Complexity: Coding complex MapReduce jobs for simple operations.
  • Real-time Processing: Inability to handle real-time or streaming data efficiently.
  • Iterative Algorithms: Inefficient for iterative algorithms like machine learning or graph algorithms.


Imagine analyzing web server logs to identify user behavior patterns. Traditional tools would require storing the log data in HDFS, writing MapReduce jobs to analyze the data, and then using separate tools to visualize the results. This process could be time-consuming and complex.

Apache Spark Revolutionizes Big Data Analytics

Apache Spark is a unified analytics engine that addresses many challenges of traditional big data analytics.

Key features of Spark:

  • Unified platform: Spark supports various data processing tasks, including batch processing, streaming, machine learning, and graph processing, eliminating the need for different tools.
  • In-memory processing: Spark can store data in memory for faster processing, significantly improving performance compared to MapReduce.
  • Fault tolerance: Spark can automatically recover from failures, ensuring data processing is reliable.
  • Support for diverse data formats: Spark can natively handle various data formats, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data.

Benefits of using Spark:

  • Improved performance: Spark can handle large datasets and complex analytics tasks significantly faster than traditional frameworks.
  • Simplified development: Spark provides a unified platform, reducing the need for learning and managing multiple tools.
  • Reduced complexity: The in-memory processing and fault tolerance features make Spark easier to manage and maintain.
  • Increased flexibility: Spark’s support for diverse data formats allows for broader application in various data analysis tasks.


Analyzing web server logs with Spark would involve reading the data directly from HDFS, using Spark’s built-in libraries for cleaning and transforming the data, and performing analysis using Spark’s machine learning algorithms. This process would be significantly faster and easier than using traditional tools.

Limitations of Apache Spark

While powerful, Spark also has limitations:

  • Complexity of deployment and management: Setting up and managing Spark clusters can be complex for non-technical users.
  • Resource overhead: In-memory processing can be resource-intensive, requiring significant memory and CPU resources.
  • Limited support for ad-hoc queries: Spark might not be ideal for ad-hoc SQL queries on large datasets.
  • Maturity of ecosystem: While Spark has a vast ecosystem, some libraries and tools are still under development.

what is Scale in/out and Scale up/down. Why it is important for Big data analytics

In big data analytics, scaling refers to the ability to adjust the resources allocated to your data processing and analysis workloads. This includes both scaling up and scaling down, which involve increasing and decreasing resources respectively, and scaling out and scaling in, which involve adding and removing nodes to your data processing cluster.

Here’s a simple explanation of each type of scaling and its importance in big data analytics:

Scaling Up/Down (Vertical Scaling):

  • What it is: Scaling up involves adding more resources, such as CPU, memory, or storage, to existing nodes in your cluster. Scaling down is the opposite, removing resources from nodes.
  • Think of it like: Adding more RAM to your computer or removing a hard drive.
  • Advantages: Simple to implement and quick to see results.
  • Disadvantages: Limited by the capabilities of individual nodes, expensive for large-scale deployments.
  • When to use it: For temporary bursts of data processing or when you need to optimize performance on a specific task.

Scaling Out/In (Horizontal Scaling):

  • What it is: Scaling out involves adding more nodes to your cluster to distribute the workload across more resources. Scaling in is removing nodes when you don’t need them.
  • Think of it like: Adding more computers to your network or removing unused ones.
  • Advantages: More flexible and cost-effective for large-scale deployments, allows you to handle increasing data volumes and processing demands.
  • Disadvantages: Requires more configuration and management overhead.
  • When to use it: When you expect your data processing needs to grow significantly, or when you need to distribute the workload across multiple nodes for better performance.

Why is scaling important for big data analytics?

  • Flexibility: Scalability allows you to adjust your resources based on your data processing needs, ensuring optimal performance and cost-efficiency.
  • Cost-effectiveness: You can scale resources up or down to avoid paying for idle resources, especially when your workload fluctuates.
  • Performance: Scaling allows you to handle increasing data volumes and processing demands without experiencing performance bottlenecks.
  • Agility: You can quickly respond to new data sources or changing requirements by adding or removing resources as needed.

Difference Between Apache Spark and Azure Databricks with Examples

Both Apache Spark and Azure Databricks are powerful tools for big data analytics, but they have key differences that cater to different needs. Let’s break it down step-by-step in simple words, with examples:

What they are:

  • Apache Spark: An open-source, unified analytics engine for large-scale data processing. You need to deploy and manage it yourself on your own infrastructure.
  • Azure Databricks: A managed cloud service built on top of Apache Spark. Microsoft handles the infrastructure and maintenance, making it easier to use.

Key Differences:

1. Deployment and Management:

  • Spark: You need to download, install, and configure Spark yourself, which can be complex for non-technical users.
  • Databricks: Microsoft manages the infrastructure and provides a web-based interface for managing your Spark clusters, making it easier to use for beginners.

2. Data Sources:

  • Spark: You need to configure Spark to access data sources like HDFS or Azure Storage Blobs.
  • Databricks: Databricks provides built-in connectors for various data sources, including Azure data services, simplifying data access.

3. Features and Functionality:

  • Spark: Offers core Spark functionalities like batch processing, streaming, and machine learning. Additional libraries and tools are required for specific tasks.
  • Databricks: Offers additional features on top of Spark, such as notebooks for interactive data exploration, MLflow for managing machine learning workflows, and a workspace environment for collaboration.

4. Cost:

  • Spark: Open-source and free to use, but you incur infrastructure costs for running it on your own hardware.
  • Databricks: Pay-as-you-go model based on the resources used, making it cost-effective for smaller workloads and flexible for scaling.


  • Analyzing web server logs:
    • Spark: You need to deploy Spark on your cluster, set up HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System) for data storage, and write Spark code to analyze the logs.
    • Databricks: You can create a Databricks workspace, import the log data from Azure Blob Storage, and use Databricks notebooks to analyze the logs interactively.

Who should use each:

  • Spark: Ideal for experienced users who want full control over their data processing infrastructure and prefer an open-source approach.
  • Databricks: Ideal for beginners and organizations that want a managed, easy-to-use service for big data analytics and collaboration.

In summary, Apache Spark offers flexibility and control, while Azure Databricks provides ease of use and managed services. The best choice depends on your technical expertise, budget, and data processing needs.

Benefits of Azure Databricks for Data Engineers and Data Scientists

Azure Databricks is a managed cloud-based platform built on top of Apache Spark, offering a unified environment for data engineering, data science, and machine learning. It provides various benefits for both data engineers and data scientists, streamlining workflows and accelerating their work.

Benefits for Data Engineers:

1. Simplified Data Engineering:

  • Unified platform: Databricks provides a single platform for managing data ingestion, transformation, and orchestration, eliminating the need for multiple tools.
  • Easy cluster management: Databricks simplifies cluster creation, configuration, and scaling, making it easier to manage resources and costs.
  • Built-in tools: Databricks offers tools for data quality checks, schema management, and data governance, streamlining data engineering tasks.

Example: A data engineer wants to automate a data pipeline for a retail customer that ingests sales data from multiple sources, cleanses and transforms it, and loads it into a data warehouse. With Databricks, they can create a pipeline using notebooks and leverage built-in tools to manage the process efficiently.

2. Collaboration and Version Control:

  • Notebook-based collaboration: Databricks notebooks facilitate collaboration between data engineers and other stakeholders, allowing them to share code, results, and insights easily.
  • Version control: Databricks provides Git-based version control for notebooks and code, enabling tracking changes, rollback to previous versions, and ensuring reproducibility.

Example: Two data engineers are working on developing a data transformation script. They can share their work in a Databricks notebook, collaborate on the code, and track changes using version control, ensuring smooth collaboration and avoiding conflicts.

3. Automation and Scalability:

  • Job scheduling: Databricks allows scheduling data pipelines and tasks, automating routine tasks and ensuring timely data processing.
  • Auto-scaling: Databricks automatically scales clusters up and down based on resource needs, optimizing performance and cost-efficiency.

Example: A data engineer wants to schedule a data pipeline to run every night. They can use Databricks job scheduling to automate the process, ensuring that the data is always fresh and available for analysis.

Benefits for Data Scientists:

1. Interactive Data Exploration and Analysis:

  • Interactive notebooks: Databricks notebooks provide an interactive environment for data exploration, visualization, and prototyping models.
  • Rich libraries: Databricks offers a wide range of pre-built libraries for data science tasks, including machine learning, statistics, and visualization.
  • Integration with Azure services: Databricks seamlessly integrates with other Azure services, such as Azure Machine Learning and Azure Data Lake Storage, facilitating data access and model deployment.

Example: A data scientist wants to explore customer behavior patterns in a large dataset. They can use Databricks notebooks to import the data, perform interactive analysis, and visualize the results using various charting libraries.

2. Model Development and Deployment:

  • MLflow integration: Databricks integrates with MLflow, providing a platform for tracking experiments, managing versions of models, and deploying them to production.
  • Automated model training: Databricks allows automating model training pipelines, ensuring efficient model development and deployment.

Example: A data scientist wants to train a machine learning model for predicting customer churn. They can use Databricks notebooks to build and train the model, track its performance with MLflow, and automate the deployment process.

3. Collaboration and Reproducibility:

  • Version control for notebooks: Databricks notebooks provide Git-based version control, ensuring reproducibility of analysis and model development.
  • Sharing and publishing notebooks: Databricks facilitates sharing notebooks with other data scientists and stakeholders, enabling collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Example: A data scientist wants to share their analysis with their colleagues. They can publish their Databricks notebook, allowing others to review their work and reuse the code for similar tasks.

In conclusion, Azure Databricks provides a comprehensive platform that simplifies data engineering tasks and empowers data scientists to explore, analyze, and build machine learning models efficiently. Its unified environment, built-in tools, and integration with other Azure services make it a valuable tool for data professionals of all skill levels.

Azure Databricks Architecture

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