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Medallion Architecture in Microsoft Fabric: A Complete Guide

Do you have a ton of data and are not sure what to do with it? This guide will help! We'll show you a special way to organize your data in Microsoft Fabric called the Medallion architecture, like putting things in different boxes. This will make it easier to find what you need and turn your data into useful information to help you make better decisions!

Table of contents:

Get ready to unleash the full potential of your data with the Medallion architecture!

Traditional data Lakes vs Lakehouse Architecture

Modern data management requires a flexible and scalable approach to handle ever-growing data volumes and diverse formats. Here, we'll explore the key differences between traditional data lakes and the emerging lakehouse architecture:

Traditional Data Lakes

Data lakes store vast amounts of raw data in any format (structured, semi-structured, unstructured). This ensures high scalability for ever-growing datasets. However, data lakes lack optimized structures for analytics. Analyzing raw data directly can be cumbersome and require additional processing. Additionally, data management can become complex due to the lack of a predefined schema.

Lakehouse Architecture

The lakehouse architecture emerges as a powerful solution, merging the strengths of data lakes and data warehouses. It provides a single platform offering:

  • Unified Storage: The lakehouse can handle any data format, ensuring high scalability and flexibility, similar to data lakes.

  • Analytics Readiness: Borrowing from data warehouses, the lakehouse facilitates data transformation and cleansing, preparing the data for analysis and unlocking valuable insights. This eliminates the need for separate data pipelines for analytics.

Key Differences:

The table below summarizes the key differences between data lakes and lakehouse architecture:


Data Lake

Lakehouse Architecture


Stores all data formats (structured, semi-structured, unstructured)

Stores all data formats (structured, semi-structured, unstructured)


Highly scalable for vast amounts of data

Highly scalable for vast amounts of data

Data Processing

Limited built-in capabilities

Supports data transformation and cleansing

Schema Management

Schema-on-read (schema defines when data is accessed)

Schema-on-write (schema defines during ingestion) with schema evolution

Data Lineage Tracking

Limited ability to track data origin and transformations

Supports data lineage tracking for auditing and troubleshooting


Raw data storage and archiving

Analytics on both raw and transformed data

Data Quality

Lower initial data quality due to lack of processing

Improved data quality through transformation and cleansing

Example Storage


Delta Lake within ADLS Gen 2

Microsoft Fabric and the Medallion Architecture

Microsoft Fabric, a unified data platform built for the cloud, offers OneLake - a single logical data lake to house all your data. To maximize the potential of your data within OneLake, Microsoft recommends the medallion architecture. This approach structures your data into distinct layers for quality and efficient access.

By combining the lakehouse architecture with the capabilities of Microsoft Fabric, organizations can create a robust and scalable data management platform, empowering them to unlock valuable insights from their data.

Why Medallion Lakehouse Architecture was introduced?

The medallion lakehouse architecture is introduced to address the limitations of traditional data lakes and leverage the strengths of both data lakes and data warehouses.

Challenges with Traditional Data Lakes:

  • Limited Analytics Readiness: Data lakes excel at storing vast amounts of raw data, but analyzing it directly can be cumbersome. The lack of structure and organization necessitates additional processing before it's usable for analytics.

  • Complex Data Management: Without a predefined schema, managing data in a data lake can become complex. Maintaining data quality and consistency becomes challenging as the data volume grows.

Benefits of Medallion Architecture:

  • Improved Data Quality: The medallion architecture structures data into distinct layers (bronze, silver, gold). Each layer focuses on data ingestion, transformation, and optimization. This ensures data quality improves as it progresses through the layers.

  • Efficient Analytics: By transforming and cleansing data in the silver and gold layers, the medallion architecture makes data readily available for analytics. This eliminates the need for extensive upfront processing before querying the data.

  • Flexibility: The medallion architecture maintains the flexibility of data lakes by allowing for various data formats in the bronze layer. New data types can be easily integrated without major schema changes.

The medallion architecture essentially addresses the limitations of data lakes by incorporating data transformation and cleansing processes. This allows organizations to leverage the scalability and flexibility of data lakes while enabling efficient querying and analysis of their data. This is for large organizations and diverse datasets that require advanced analytical capabilities.

Medallion Lakehouse Architecture

The following diagram illustrates the flow of data through the medallion architecture within Microsoft Fabric:

Medallion Architecture in Microsoft Fabric

Data Sources: This represents the various sources of raw data that can be ingested into the Bronze layer of the medallion architecture.

Prepare and Transform: This section refers to the data processing steps occurring in the Silver layer. Fabric offers tools like Dataflows and Databricks Notebooks for data cleansing, transformation, and schema enforcement in this layer.

SQL Analytics Endpoint: This signifies Fabric's capability to query data across all layers (Bronze, Silver, Gold) using a unified SQL interface.

The medallion architecture in Fabric organizes data into three distinct layers:

Bronze Layer:

  • Characteristics: Unprocessed and unaltered data from various sources (structured, semi-structured, unstructured).

  • Storage Format: Typically stored in Delta Lake format within OneLake. Delta Lake ensures data reliability, allowing updates and schema evolution over time.

  • Purpose: Acts as the initial landing zone for all incoming data, serving as an archive for your entire dataset.

Silver Layer (Validate Data):

  • Data Processing Steps: This layer focuses on preparing the raw data for analysis. Key steps include:

  • Deduplication: Removing duplicate records to ensure data accuracy.

  • Schema Enforcement: Defining a consistent structure for the data, making it easier to query and analyze.

  • Data Cleansing: Addressing data quality issues like missing values or inconsistencies.

  • Storage Format: Similar to the Bronze layer, Delta Lake is often used for storing validated data in the Silver layer.

  • Purpose: Transforms raw data into a usable format for further analysis and exploration.

Gold Layer (Refined Data)

  • Further Refinement: This layer optimizes the data for specific analytical needs. Techniques employed here include:

  • Aggregation: Summarizing data by pre-computing calculations (e.g., daily sales totals).

  • Feature Engineering: Creating new features from existing data to enhance analysis.

  • Optimized Format for Analytics: The Gold layer may leverage materialized views within Fabric's SQL endpoint. Materialized views are pre-computed data, allowing for faster querying and improved analytical performance.

  • Purpose: Provides the most optimized version of your data, readily available for advanced analytics and exploration with minimal processing overhead.

Implementing Medallion Architecture in Fabric

Microsoft Fabric simplifies the implementation of the medallion architecture within its OneLake data platform. Here's how Fabric components streamline data management across each layer:

Bronze Layer: Ingesting Raw Data

Data Ingestion Methods: Fabric offers various options to ingest raw data into the Bronze layer stored in Delta Lake format:

  • Azure Data Factory: This ETL/ELT service orchestrates data pipelines to move data from diverse sources (databases, cloud storage) to the Bronze layer.

  • Azure Databricks Notebooks: Utilize notebooks for custom data ingestion logic using Spark or other languages to prepare and load data.

  • Third-Party Connectors: Integrate with pre-built connectors for various data sources like social media platforms or cloud applications.

Silver Layer: Transforming and Validating Data

Data Cleansing and Transformation: The Silver layer focuses on cleaning and transforming raw data into a consistent and usable format. Fabric offers these tools:

  • Dataflows: This visual interface allows for building data pipelines that perform data cleansing, and transformation (filtering, deduplication) using built-in functions.

  • Azure Databricks Notebooks/Spark: For complex transformations or custom logic, utilize notebooks and Spark libraries for advanced data manipulation.

  • Storage Options: Fabric stores validated data in the Silver layer using Delta Lake format, ensuring data reliability and efficient updates.

Gold Layer: Refining Data for Analytics

Data Preparation and Optimization: The Gold layer focuses on further refining data for optimal analytical performance:

  • Feature Engineering: Use notebooks or Dataflows to create new features from existing data to improve model performance.

  • Aggregation: Aggregate data in the Gold layer for faster querying and analysis, reducing the need for processing raw data every time.

  • Materialized Views: Create materialized views (pre-computed summaries) of frequently used queries for faster access within the Gold layer.

Benefits of Medallion Architecture in Microsoft Fabric

The medallion architecture within Microsoft Fabric goes beyond simply organizing data.

Ensuring Data Quality

The medallion architecture promotes data quality through its layered approach and data processing steps in Fabric:

  • Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability (ACID) Properties: Fabric guarantees ACID properties as data progresses through the layers. This ensures data integrity and consistency throughout the pipeline.

  • Data Transformation and Cleansing (Silver Layer): Data in the silver layer transforms deduplication and schema enforcement. This removes inconsistencies and ensures data adheres to defined standards.

  • Data Validation: Microsoft Fabric can perform data validation checks to identify and address potential errors or inconsistencies.

These measures ensure that data improves the quality as it moves from the raw (bronze) layer to the optimized (gold) layer, ready for reliable analysis.

Benefits of Data Lineage Tracking:

Data lineage tracking within Fabric provides a detailed record of the origin, transformations, and movement across the medallion architecture. This offers several advantages:

  • Auditing: Track data lineage to understand the exact source and modifications made to data at each layer. This helps verify data provenance and ensure compliance with regulations.

  • Troubleshooting: When encountering issues with data analysis, data lineage helps pinpoint the specific stage where the error occurred, allowing for quicker troubleshooting and resolution.

  • Improved Data Management Practices: By understanding the data flow, data lineage promotes the best techniques to clean and transform data, leading to a more reliable and efficient data pipeline.

Flexibility for Diverse Use Cases

The medallion architecture excels in its adaptability to various data use cases. Here's how:

  • Scalability: The medallion architecture is inherently scalable within Fabric. Each layer can be independently scaled to accommodate data volumes and processing needs.

  • Data Format Agnostic: The bronze layer can handle any data format (structured, semi-structured, unstructured), allowing for easy integration of new data sources without significant changes to the architecture.

  • Customizable Gold Layer: The gold layer is highly customizable. You can tailor it to specific analytical needs by employing techniques like feature engineering and materialized views for faster querying. This flexibility ensures the architecture can adapt to evolving data analysis requirements.

Applications / Use Case of Medallion Architecture within Microsoft Fabric's Onelake

The medallion lakehouse architecture offers a versatile approach to data management, catering to various data use cases. Here are some prominent applications:

1. Advanced Analytics:

  • Financial Services: Analyze customer behavior, predict loan defaults, and identify fraud patterns through historical transaction data, social media sentiment, and sensor data (all potentially integrated within the Bronze layer). Using the Silver and Gold layers for in-depth analysis to optimize customer experience and risk management.

  • Manufacturing: Combine production line sensor data (Bronze layer) with maintenance records and customer feedback (potentially Silver layer) to optimize production processes, predict equipment failures, and improve product quality. The Gold layer can provide pre-computed metrics for faster analysis of machine performance.

  • Retail: Analyze customer purchase history (Bronze layer), combine it with social media data (potentially Silver layer), and leverage the Gold layer for targeted promotions, personalized recommendations, and improved inventory management.

2. Big Data Exploration:

  • Life Sciences: Analyze large datasets from genomics research (Bronze layer), perform data cleansing and normalization in the Silver layer, and utilize the Gold layer for genetic variations and potential drug discovery.

  • Media and Entertainment: Analyze user behavior data, social media sentiment, and content consumption patterns (all potentially Bronze layer) to understand audience preferences. Cleansed and transformed data in the Silver and Gold layers allows for identifying trends, optimizing content recommendations, and driving user engagement.

  • Scientific Research: Integrate data from various sources like weather stations, telescopes, and environmental sensors (potentially the Bronze layer) and leverage the Silver and Gold layers for large-scale data exploration and scientific discovery.

3. Regulatory Compliance:

  • Healthcare: Store patient data securely in the Bronze layer, ensure Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance through data transformation in the Silver layer, and leverage the Gold layer for authorized access and analysis of patient data for medical research or treatment purposes.


The medallion architecture in Microsoft Fabric cuts through data complexity. It empowers you to make informed decisions by organizing data, ensuring quality, and enabling advanced analytics. Leverage Fabric's integration for a seamless journey, and unlock the true power of your data.


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