Okera, which offers a centralized security, governance and access solution for data lakes and data warehouses, has announced support for data lakes on the Microsoft Azure cloud. While Amazon Web Services' Simple Storage Service (AWS S3) was initially the only cloud data lake service supported on the Okera platform, the company has now added explicit support for data lakes domiciled on Azure. The company is also reiterating the support it had already offered for both Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse.
What's it all about?
Okera's Active Data Access Platform provides granular data masking, anonymization, and access control across a number of data sources, at the row, column and cell level. Okera's platform also helps data stewards and data protection officers who face European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) and other data regulation compliance requirements, by providing audit reporting on access, analysis, and sensitive data.
Policy assignment, an active schema registry and collaborative workspaces are provided as well, and Okera also acts as a data virtualization platform of sorts, by providing a single access point for BI and query tools, to the data to which it is connected. This includes structured and unstructured data, on-premises and in the cloud, be it AWS or Azure.
Oftentimes, when discussion of cloud data lakes come up, S3 is the first solution named. But AWS isn't the only cloud provider in town and S3 is not the only cloud object storage solution. Microsoft Azure continues to gain traction in the enterprise. While it offers a general cloud storage solution called Azure Blob Storage, it is the only major cloud provider to have a data lake-specific offering, Azure Data Lake Storage (ADLS). And with the general availability of ADLS "Gen2" in February, it's been gaining adoption from a number of vendors in the ecosystem, now including Okera, which supports both ADLS Gen1 and 2.
Amandeep Khurana, Okera's co-founder and CEO, spoke to ZDNet recently and shared his thoughts on Azure's traction in the cloud market. Khurana felt that AWS has more mindshare, but Azure is getting a lot of traction in traditional enterprises. He also feels that Azure infrastructure is catching up really quickly to AWS and he's heard from certain customers that they're considering "doubling down" on Azure, using it as their primary cloud, with AWS as a backup. It's for these reasons -- customer demand, essentially -- that Okera has added support for Azure.
ADLS Gen2 adoption grows
Okera joins the likes of Cloudera, Dremio, WANdisco and others in providing explicit support for ADLS Gen2. Azure Databricks, the data engineering and machine learning platform from Databricks that Microsoft offers as a first-party service, supports ADLS Gen2 too. Other Microsoft properties, including Power BI and HDInsight, support ADLS Gen2 as well, of course.
ADLS Gen2 removes most file, container and account size restrictions, offers a hierarchical file system, and provides access via its own API and WebHDFS. Gen2 "file systems" can co-exist in the same Azure Storage accounts with Blob Storage containers. In addition, access to ADLS Gen2 via the Blob Storage API is coming, which will be the last step in making the service a superset of Blob Storage itself. ADLS is a strategic access for Azure and Okera seems to appreciate its value.