At a customer event in San Francisco last week, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella showcased the company’s latest offerings for helping businesses embrace big data culture and the Internet of Things.
To do this, Microsoft has introduced three new tools that are designed for analysis of growing volumes of information generated by humans and machines, and thus help to extract data. These products are Azure Intelligent Systems Service, Analytics Platform System and SQL Server 2014.
The Redmond company advocates that businesses acquire a culture of data so that the information generated–and every interaction between business and world generates data–can be used for all people to create value. This culture of data. Microsoft argues, has a number of benefits to businesses and the economy of a country. Companies could increase productivity, be more innovative and improve their operations and customer services.
In a report commissioned by Microsoft, IDC estimates that companies could generate $1.6 billion in additional revenue and cost savings over the next four years if they better understand their data. It is precisely in this task where Microsoft wants to help with a big data strategy covering the entire process.
Microsoft wants to capture ambient intelligence
With these tools, Microsoft’s attention is directed towards to the growing volume of data produced either by machines than by humans. The company says that as computing becomes ubiquitous, engineers and developers are creating new form factors and cloud services that fit into all the nooks and crannies of everyday life. Car dashboards, light switches, HVAC systems, sneakers, etc.
For this reason, Microsoft introduced the Azure Intelligent Systems Service. The Azure Intelligent Systems Service makes it easier to work with data obtained from devices connected to the Internet of things. The cloud-based service will be used to connect, manage, capture and transform machine-generated data regardless of the operating system or platform.
Enterprises using the Intelligent Systems Service to extend the Azure cloud across connected devices and sensors can capture vital data, analyze it with Microsoft tools such as HDInsight and Power BI for Office 365, and then quickly take the appropriate action that drives impact.
Microsoft for an example says they are working with Telent and CGI to help the London Underground modernize the systems that securely monitor, manage and automate its things, everything from escalators, lifts and HVAC controls to closed-circuit video and communication systems.
Microsoft’s second offering SQL Server 2014 features in-memory capabilities that help multiply the performance and speed of data transactions. For first time, the relational database can store entire databases in the working memory of the server for faster data access.
The latest version of the database brings in-memory capability to all workloads, including OLTP, data warehousing and business intelligence. It delivers public cloud scale and disaster recovery with Microsoft Azure.
Microsoft’s next offering is the general availability of its Analytics Platform System (APS). APS combines the SQL Server database and Hadoop technology in a low-cost appliance that delivers big data in a box. The APS platform will enable companies to get some of their data in their warehouses and export in Azure for further processing in HDInsight. The search results from APS can be exported to Excel, using the Power function of BI software.
“In order to make the kind of progress we’ve been able to make inside Microsoft,” explains Quentin Clark, who runs the data platform group at Microsoft. “We had to find a way to take machine learning out of the science lab and make it an engineering tool. That allows us to hope that we can offer machine learning to a much wider audience than has access to it today.”
With these products, a company can make better use of its ambient intelligence. The ambient intelligence includes data generated by an increasing number of machines, including via sensors, and those generated by individuals who transmit their experiences via digital devices.
Microsoft’s strategy is a smart one. At one end it is trying to enable the business at the local level with SQL Server on the back end and Office at the front end. At the other, it aims to enable the average user to use Excel in conjunction with Power BI to translate regular rows of data into visual, actionable assets. Microsoft is also positioning Azure as a contender to host these data sets and enable customers to visualize them.
Microsoft’s new big data tools not only can help big businesses but it can be also be used by small and medium sized companies and businesses worldwide can tap into a more than trillion-dollar opportunity over the next four years.