Here’s an interesting read I discovered via a coworker about the Azure Data Factory Azure Synapse Analytics (Preview).
In Data Factory, an activity defines the action to be performed. A linked service defines a target data store or a compute service.
An integration runtime provides the bridge between the activity and linked Services. It’s referenced by the linked service or activity, and provides the compute environment where the activity either runs on or gets dispatched from.
This way, the activity can be performed in the region closest possible to the target data store or compute service in the most performant way while meeting security and compliance needs.