Particle to Azure SQL Data Warehouse

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Particle and load it into Azure SQL Data Warehouse. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is Particle?

Particle allows businesses to bring their Internet of Things (IoT) products to market faster. It provides a secure, easy-to-use, full-stack IoT cloud platform and low-cost connected hardware.

What is Azure SQL Data Warehouse?

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a cloud-based petabyte-scale columnar database service with controls to manage compute and storage resources independently. It offers encryption of data at rest and dynamic data masking to mask sensitive data on the fly, and it integrates with Azure Active Directory. It can replicate to read-only databases in different geographic regions for load balancing and fault tolerance.

Getting data out of Particle

Particle exposes events through webhooks. To use webhooks, log into your Particle console and click on the Integrations tab, then click New Integration > Webhook. Set the event name to the item you want to track; it's good practice to specify the name of the field where you want the data to live in your data warehouse. Set the URL to the key or token that you'll use to accept the data. Leave the request type as POST. In the device field, select the device you want to trigger the webhook. Finally, click Create Webhook.

Sample Particle data

Particle sends data in JSON format via webhook through a POST request whenever an event triggers it to do so. The JSON fields and endpoints will match the data collected by your form. For instance:

{
    "event": [event-name],
    "data": [event-data],
    "published_at": [timestamp],
    "coreid": [device-id]
}

Loading data into Azure SQL Data Warehouse

SQL Data Warehouse provides a multi-step process for loading data. After extracting the data from its source, you can move it to Azure Blob storage or Azure Data Lake Store. You can then use one of three utilities to load the data:

  • AZCopy uses the public internet.
  • Azure ExpressRoute routes the data through a dedicated private connection to Azure, bypassing the public internet by using a VPN or point-to-point Ethernet network.
  • The Azure Data Factory (ADF) cloud service has a gateway that you can install on your local server, then use to create a pipeline to move data to Azure Storage.

From Azure Storage you can load the data into SQL Data Warehouse staging tables by using Microsoft's PolyBase technology. You can run any transformations you need while the data is in staging, then insert it into production tables. Microsoft offers documentation for the whole process.

Keeping Particle data up to date

Once you've coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and move it into your data warehouse, you're going to have to maintain it. If Particle modifies its API, or sends a field with a datatype your code doesn't recognize, you may have to modify the script. If your users want slightly different information, you definitely will have to.

Other data warehouse options

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, PostgreSQL, Snowflake, or Panoply, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax. Others choose a data lake, like Amazon S3. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To BigQuery, To Postgres, To Snowflake, To Panoply, and To S3.

Easier and faster alternatives

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.

Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to move data from Particle to Azure SQL Data Warehouse automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Particle data via the API, structuring it in a way that's optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Azure SQL Data Warehouse data warehouse.