How did I get started with Azure Data Explorer?

Azure Data Explorer (ADX) has been gaining traction recently and for good reason. ADX makes it easy to analyse high volumes of data with the capability to handle near real-time data.

Azure Data Explorer icon (source)

As Microsoft puts it, “Azure Data Explorer is scalable, secure, robust, and enterprise-ready, and is useful for log analytics, time series analytics, IoT, and general-purpose exploratory analytics”.

As such, I want to provide you a comprehensive list of learning resources so you can quickly get up to speed with what is ADX, how it works, learn how to use it, and incorporate it into future solutions.

Guy in a Cube Intro

The first stop might be to watch Guy in a Cube’s introductory video to ADX. It is not technical, but it offers a quick look at the tasks ADX can excel at. Their second video expands on the data visualisation and cognitive capabilities of ADX.

Free ADX cluster

If you want hands-on experience with ADX, then go ahead and create a free cluster. Yup, as long as you have a Microsoft account then you can create a free cluster. Follow the steps in this guide to start playing around with ADX.

P.S. check this documentation page for the list of features supported in the free cluster.

Kusto Detective Agency

The Kusto Detective Agency is a fun way to get unguided experience with ADX. Every two weeks Microsoft releases a new challenge and, again, they are completely free to participate — you can use your free ADX cluster!

The emphasis here is really in unguided because they only provide you the exercise, the data, and at most 3 hints. You really need to play the detective role and investigate the data to find answers while applying your KQL skills.

For instance, in the latest exercise I was provided with an election dataset where I had to find the proof of fraud and calculate the real results for each candidate. It can get tricky sometimes but it’s great fun to mess around with the data and then find some meaningful results.

ADX Microhack

There is an Azure GitHub repository with resources for an ADX Microhack.

This one does require an Azure subscription for you to deploy the resources into, but I found it worth the cost — it cost me about 10€ per day to leave the resources running.

Content-wise, the micro hack is separated into three parts: cluster creation and data ingestion, data exploration and visualisation, and advanced capabilities. By the end I felt like I had a solid understanding about everything offered in ADX.

Just two notes about the contents: a) make sure you use filters that exist for your dataset when date/time or string filters are necessary, and b) you can follow the instructions for deployment, but you might have to manually create the data exports and destination links in IoT Central at the end.

Microsoft Learn

Lastly, you can check out ADX modules from Microsoft Learn. Just keep in mind most of the content in these modules is covered in the microhack.

The ones recommended in the documentation are:

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José Fernando Costa

I write about data science to help other people who might come across the same problems