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Copy Activity vs Web Activity

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

A detailed explanation for connecting to an API within Azure Data Factory


In Azure Data Factory, both Copy Activity and Web Activity can be used to connect to an API, but they serve different purposes and have different pros and cons. Here's a simple comparison that explains when to use each activity.


copy activity vs web activity

When to Use Copy Activity in Azure Data Factory


Advantages:


  1. Data movement: Copy Activity is designed for data movement between different data stores, making it suitable for ingesting data from an API and storing it in a target data store, like Azure Blob Storage or Azure SQL Database.

  2. Built-in connectors: It supports various built-in connectors to different data sources and sinks, which simplifies the process of data extraction and loading.

  3. Scalability and performance: Copy Activity can scale out by using multiple parallel copy operations, enabling faster data transfer and better performance.

  4. Data transformation: Basic data transformation (like schema mapping and data type conversion) can be performed during the copy process, providing some level of data manipulation.

  5. Incremental data loading: It supports incremental data loading by using watermarking, enabling efficient data ingestion for large datasets.


Disadvantages:

  1. Limited to data movement: Copy Activity is specifically designed for data movement and doesn't support more advanced API interactions like pagination or rate limiting.

  2. Limited transformation capabilities: More advanced data transformations require additional processing steps, like using Data Flow or Azure Functions.

azure data factory

When to Use Web Activity in Azure Data Factory


Advantages:

  1. API interaction: Web Activity is designed to interact with HTTP-based APIs, which allows you to call REST endpoints and retrieve or send data using GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, or PATCH methods.

  2. Flexibility: It provides better flexibility in handling API responses, dealing with pagination, rate limiting, authentication, and custom headers, which might be necessary for some APIs.

  3. Integration with other activities: Web Activity can be easily integrated with other activities in a pipeline to create more complex data processing workflows.


Disadvantages:

  1. No built-in data movement: Web Activity does not inherently support data movement between source and sink, so you'll need additional activities (like Copy Activity or custom code) to store the data retrieved from an API.

  2. Limited parallelism: Web Activity does not support parallel execution, which might affect performance when dealing with large datasets or multiple API endpoints.


Ready to get Started?

If your primary goal is to move data from an API to a data store with minimal data transformation, Copy Activity is the better solution. However, if you need more advanced API interactions or want to integrate with other activities in a pipeline, Web Activity is likely the better fit. Often, a combination of both activities is used in real-world scenarios to accomplish the desired data ingestion and processing.


To learn more about selecting the right data architecture solution, check out this article.


If you are looking for data migration or architecture consulting, we are here to help! Contact a JourneyTEAM solutions specialist today.

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