Microsoft has infused Office 365 with machine learning. Tableau is putting data visualization control back in IT hands. GE is supplying an IoT developer kit for its Predix offering. Snowflake Computing has updated its cloud-based data warehouse, and Teradata has acquired Big Data Partnership.
Let's start with Tableau. This data visualization company's platform has been embraced by business users over the past several years because it was simple enough for them to use and understand without involving the IT department.
While that led to faster creation of visualizations, taking IT out of the equation had some unintended side effects, such as a loss of centralized control over data governance. To fix this, Tableau 10, the company's upcoming update to its platform, gives back that control to the IT organization.
The platform is getting an overlay of analytics on top of the entire platform that provides IT with visibility into how users are making use of the platform. That information will give IT what it needs to maintain, manage, and tune the platform.
[Agriculture generates and uses lots of data. Read How an Agricultural Data Firm Puts the Cloud to Work.]
Tableau 10 also enables data mashups -- letting end-users combine data sources, say data from Hadoop and SQL on Azure and QuickBooks, and treat that combined data as a single data source for queries.
The new platform also makes advanced analytics capabilities, including clustering, accessible to end-users. The company called the release and new features the most significant the company has ever made.
Microsoft Taps Machine Learning
That familiar Microsoft Word in Office 365 that you use for all your business writing will now offer even more grammatical and editing recommendations, thanks to new integration with machine learning.
Microsoft's most recent update to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of its personal productivity suite leverages the company's machine learning and natural language processing engines to bring smarter capabilities to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
For instance, Editor for Word can suggest alternative words and phrases to those you've typed.
Another new feature, Researcher for Word, helps users do the research they need for their work without leaving the Word application.
Meanwhile, PowerPoint is getting a couple of new features, including one allowing users to zoom in to desired portions of a presentation or navigate more intuitively from one part of a presentation to another.
Outlook is getting Focused Inbox, a tool that automatically separates inbox email into two tabs based on how important the messages are.
IoT Developer Kit for Predix by GE
The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to gain momentum. Case in point: GE last week released its Predix Developer Kit for IoT -- a bundled package of hardware and software that makes it easier to collect machine data from the internet.
Predix is GE Digital's analytics system and the new Predix Kit makes it easier for organizations to connect the "things." The Kit automatically establishes the connection, registers its presence with a central version of Predix, and starts transmitting time-series data for temperature, pressure, speed, flow readings, or other data from device sensors.
Snowflake Update Storms Market
Snowflake Computing, a one-year-old cloud-based data warehouse offering, got an update recently that provides more automation features for customers to simplify data consumption. But the core of the system is the same.
It's a data warehouse, designed for all types of data, from traditional structured data to unstructured big data. Plus, it's deployed in the cloud -- currently hosted on AWS -- enabling the elasticity that helps as data stores grow.
One of the biggest selling points of this, according to the customer we spoke with, was that Snowflake decoupled the pricing of compute from storage. Customers are only charged for what they use of each.
That means customers with lots of data don't also have to pay for lots of compute if they don't need it. That makes it more economical for organizations with a lot of data.
Teradata Acquires Big Data Partnership
Finally this week, data warehouse and analytics vendor Teradata has added training and consulting capabilities to its bench with the acquisition of Big Data Partnership, a London-based startup.
The deal is likely to solidify what analyst firm Gartner has already said is a strength for Teradata, customer experience. Big Data Partnership's team also has expertise in big data technologies, including the Apache Hadoop Ecosystem, Apache Spark, NoSQL, and search technologies.