PolyBase enables your SQL Server instance to query data with T-SQL directly from SQL Server, Oracle, Teradata, MongoDB, Hadoop clusters, Cosmos DB, and S3-compatible object storage without separately installing client connection software. You can also use the generic ODBC connector to connect to additional providers using third-party ODBC drivers. PolyBase allows T-SQL queries to join the data from external sources to relational tables in an instance of SQL Server.

A key use case for data virtualization with the PolyBase feature is to allow the data to stay in its original location and format. You can virtualize the external data through the SQL Server instance, so that it can be queried in place like any other table in SQL Server. This process minimizes the need for ETL processes for data movement. This data virtualization scenario is possible with the use of PolyBase connectors.

Supported SQL products and services

PolyBase provides these same functionalities for the following SQL products from Microsoft:

  • SQL Server 2016 (13.x) and later versions (Windows)
  • SQL Server 2019 (15.x) and later versions (Windows and Linux)
  • SQL Server Analytics Platform System (PDW) (PDW), hosted in the Analytics Platform System (APS)
  • Azure Synapse Analytics

Why use PolyBase?

PolyBase allows you to join data from a SQL Server instance with external data. Prior to PolyBase to join data to external data sources you could either:

  • Transfer half your data so that all the data was in one location.
  • Query both sources of data, then write custom query logic to join and integrate the data at the client level.

PolyBase allows you to simply use Transact-SQL to join the data.

PolyBase does not require you to install additional software to your Hadoop environment. You query external data by using the same T-SQL syntax used to query a database table. The support actions implemented by PolyBase all happen transparently. The query author does not need any knowledge about the external source.

PolyBase uses

PolyBase enables the following scenarios in SQL Server:

  • Query data stored in Hadoop from a SQL Server instance or PDW. Users are storing data in cost-effective distributed and scalable systems, such as Hadoop. PolyBase makes it easy to query the data by using T-SQL.
  • Query data stored in Azure blob storage. Azure blob storage is a convenient place to store data for use by Azure services. PolyBase makes it easy to access the data by using T-SQL.
  • Import data from Hadoop, Azure blob storage, or Azure Data Lake Store.Leverage the speed of Microsoft SQL’s columnstore technology and analysis capabilities by importing data from Hadoop, Azure blob storage, or Azure Data Lake Store into relational tables. There is no need for a separate ETL or import tool.
  • Export data to Hadoop, Azure blob storage, or Azure Data Lake Store. Archive data to Hadoop, Azure blob storage, or Azure Data Lake Store to achieve cost-effective storage and keep it online for easy access.
  • Integrate with BI tools. Use PolyBase with Microsoft’s business intelligence and analysis stack, or use any third-party tools that are compatible with SQL Server.


  • Push computation to Hadoop. PolyBase pushes some computations to the external source to optimize the overall query. The query optimizer makes a cost-based decision to push computation to Hadoop, if that will improve query performance. The query optimizer uses statistics on external tables to make the cost-based decision. Pushing computation creates MapReduce jobs and leverages Hadoop’s distributed computational resources. For more information, see Pushdown computations in PolyBase.

Scale compute resources. (Applies to SQL Server 2016 (13.x), SQL Server 2017 (14.x), and SQL Server 2019 (15.x) only.) To improve query performance, you can use SQL Server PolyBase scale-out groups. This enables parallel data transfer between SQL Server instances and Hadoop nodes, and it adds compute resources for operating on the external data.

Information Source – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/relational-databases/polybase/polybase-guide?view=sql-server-ver16