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4/16/2014
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Microsoft Reveals Big Data Strategy

Microsoft's new tools aim to serve all users -- not just data scientists -- extracting insight from big data sets and the Internet of Things.

such as the upcoming IoT-flavored version recently teased at Build. The company has already begun using the technology to more efficiently manage its home campus in Redmond, Wash.

Microsoft officials also showed off Office 365's Power BI data analytics tools and their new place in the company's data strategy. Following the announcements, SQL Server and Azure constitute the back end of Microsoft's data platform while Office constitutes the front end -- or the "UI for data," as Nadella called it.

In a series of demonstrations, Microsoft execs used Excel and Power BI to quickly visualize data, turning abstract rows of numbers into interactive graphs, charts, and maps. A spreadsheet summarizing power consumption across a corporate campus could be translated into a map in which energy spikes are color-coded or otherwise made easier to detect, for example. The gist is that users needn't be data scientists to derive insights; Microsoft believes its tools, which include natural language queries, will allow everyone to live within a data-driven culture.

That culture will be big business, according to a Microsoft-backed IDC study. The research firm said organizations that embrace a holistic approach to data could enjoy approximately $1.6 trillion in new revenue, lower costs, and improved productivity over the next four years. Nadella pointed out that Microsoft already generates substantial cash from its data businesses. He said SQL Server generates more than $5 billion in annual revenue and characterized Excel as the most ubiquitous data analytics product in the world.

Emerging standards for hybrid clouds and converged datacenters promise to break vendors' proprietary hold. Also in the Lose The Lock-In issue of InformationWeek: The future datacenter will come in a neat package (free registration required).

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
4/18/2014 | 11:40:42 AM
Focus
I'm personally happy to see Microsoft making a clear statement in that they want to focus on driving business analytics from data, and really push cloud and mobility.  They have the pedigree, as with SQL and excel, they had the foundation for a strong analytics engine, I'm excited to see how they plan to push the boundaries of BI and make it easy for mass adoption by enterprises who wish to gain better insight into the data they collect. Especially now as we start down the IoT path, where the analytics will be the key driver for adoption.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
4/16/2014 | 8:19:12 PM
If SQL Server can do it, MySQL wants to do it too
If Microsoft can move data back and forth between SQL Server and Hadoop in its Analytics Platform System, that's a pretty useful function. Many MySQL users would like to make use of Hadoop, but it's still not easy to get the data out of MySQL and into Hadoop or move results back into MySQL.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
4/16/2014 | 5:05:37 PM
Excel
Nadella calls Excel the most ubiquitous data analytics product in the world -- also likely the top contributor to the multiple versions of spreadsheets problem -- leading to the multiple versions of the truth problem. BI/data analytics as a service competition is lively; Microsoft will be up against both giants and nimble upstarts.
danielcawrey
IW Pick
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
4/16/2014 | 2:36:48 PM
IoT
Azure Intelligent Systems Service is intriguing to me. It would seem as if Microsoft has been managing adminstration of PC endpoints for years - and so being able to extend that out to embedded systems is a logical step.

I think its an interesting value proposition for companies that know they need to get involved in IoT but don't really know how to deploy it. 

A lot of companies find experimentation and research on projects like this really time and money intensive. Microsoft gives organizations a fully formed platform to build off of.That's why companies like using their products. 
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