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Microsoft offers many ways to help businesses use ‘fast data’

Microsoft offers many ways to help businesses use ‘fast data’

  • International
  • By now everyone has heard the most popular buzzwords in the world of enterprise information. Terms like “data warehouse”, “big data”, “business intelligence”, and “machine learning” are everywhere these days. But a new term has been gaining a lot of traction these last few years, and that term is “fast data”. Fast Data isn’t a replacement for any of these previous concepts. Rather, it’s the latest application of them. The Fast Data trend is the acknowledgement that information acted upon in real time is significantly more valuable to an organization than when it is examined in a regularly scheduled report. Now customers with no previous investment in the area of data and analytics are already starting to ask their technology partners “what should I be doing with this?”
  • Microsoft
  • info@microsoft.com

Maximizing the Fast Data opportunity

Traditional approaches to intake, warehousing, processing, and reporting don’t allow businesses to react to some types of data before it becomes irrelevant. Applications like IoT deployments, social media, web analytics, and mobile usage can demand that real-time actions be taken on trends contained within many terabytes of data.

That’s where Fast Data comes in.

If your customers are going to benefit from making real-time business decisions based on large amounts of data, they are going to need help. Fast Data isn’t just about the technology which makes it happen. It’s about investing in business practices around monitoring and analytics, alerts to significant events, and plans to take quick, corrective actions.

Microsoft has a wide variety of offerings to address the Fast Data needs of customers of all sizes, and partners who know how to explore the solution possibilities with their clients will benefit most from the opportunities that arise. Here are some brief introductions to several of the Fast Data offerings that Microsoft provides:

1. Azure Data Lake

What is it?

With all of the capabilities needed by developers and data analysists to store and complete processing and analytics tasks across various platforms, Azure Data Lake is a great resource to get started with Fast Data. Here are some of Azure Data Lake’s offerings that you’ll want to check out:

  • HDInsight: Apache Hadoop (and related projects) implemented in Azure as a scalable service, ready to use without the planning required to run Hadoop on-premises or in cloud virtual machines. Hadoop itself is a set of services which work together to support big data solutions.
  • Data Lake Store: A repository for incoming data, kept in its raw, heterogeneous form.
  • Data Lake Analytics: A scalable service for executing data analysis queries on heterogeneous data without having to manage the underlying processing power.

Who is it for?

Data scientists who need to get started building their solutions now without worrying about future capacity.

Why would they use it?

The “Big” in “Big Data” is hard to plan for – both from a storage and from a processing power perspective. Implementing Big Data in Azure lets customers focus on results instead of capacity planning.

The Azure Data Lake suite of solutions is used to capture data from multiple sources and perform analytics across the data set without requiring transformation into a homogenous form.

Where do I learn more?

For more information about Azure Data Lake and its offerings, check out the Apache Hadoop project overview, as well as Microsoft Azure’s Introduction to Hadoop and Exploration of Data Lake. Also worth reading up on is developer Tom Kerkhove’s blog about Azure Data Lake.

2. SQL Server Analysis Services

What is it?

SQL Server Analysis Services is an online analytical data engine for business reports and client applications, including Power BIand other data visualization tools.

Who is it for?

Application Developers and DBAs with on-premises data in SQL Server and other stores such as Oracle or DB2.

Why would they use it?

Microsoft’s solutions for Fast Data are not just limited to Azure. Plenty of companies have on-premises data in SQL Server which needs to be analyzed to provide Business Intelligence. SQL Server Analysis Services continues to be improved upon, with a major update released just this year. When combined with Power BI, it can be an effective tool for supporting real-time decision making.

Where do I learn more?

Great resources to learn more about SQL Server Analysis Services include the latest updates to Analysis Services, more information, tips and announcements straight from the product team, and this helpful breakdown of the data sources you can use.

3. Azure SQL Data Warehouse

What is it

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a variation of Azure SQL Server capable of storing and processing massive volumes of data, both relational and non-relational.

Who is it for?

Developers, DBAs, and data scientists who need to build a Fast Data solution using a more traditional approach than Data Lake, either to leverage existing skill-sets or because the data sources are more homogeneous, as with LOB data applications.

Why would they use it?

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is great for enabling Fast Data using existing tools like SQL Server Analysis ServicesIntegration Services, and Reporting Services and is a bridge to born-in-the cloud services like Stream AnalyticsMachine Learning, andPower BI.

It has a unique feature of allowing customers to independently scale storage and compute resources, going so far as to spin down the query engine while leaving all data in place, ready to resume when the project resumes.

Where do I learn more?

Helpful information about the Azure SQL Data Warehouse is available in the service overview page and in the SQL Data Warehouse guidance material.

4. Azure Machine Learning

What is it?

Azure Machine Learning is a cloud service that enables you to build, deploy, and share predictive analytics solutions.

Who is it for?

Data scientists who want to apply the latest in forecasting algorithms using a drag-and-drop interface and developers who want to include data science intelligence in their software though a simple API implementation.

Why would they use it?

Machine learning, as a general concept, provides a sneak peek into the sci-fi future where computers stop telling us what did happen and start telling us what may happen next. Microsoft’s cloud services version of machine learning is the best-of-breed approach to the concept, packaged and ready for easy use. No PhD required.

Where do I learn more?

Learn more about Azure Machine Learning through the service overview and Info World’s article on How Machine Learning ate Microsoft.

5. Azure Stream Analytics

What is it?

Azure Stream Analytics is a managed, cloud-based process created specifically for real-time event processing on incoming Big Data sets like those from IoT devices, sensors, web sites, social media, applications, infrastructure systems, etc.

Who is it for?

Data scientists and enterprise developers wanting to take a fresh approach to Fast Data while benefiting from years ofMicrosoft Research work in processing time-sensitive data.

Why would they use it?

The other solutions here assume some workflow of intake, storage, and then processing. Stream Analytics enables truly real-time decision making by performing the analytics on a continuous flow of information, in the moment.

Where do I learn more?

Check out the detailed overview of Stream Analytics and Executive VP Scott Gu’s blog on real-time data streaming and data factory services.

6. Power BI

What is it?

Power BI is an interactive data visualization deployed either as a stand-alone dashboard or embedded within a desktop, web, or mobile application.

Who is it for?

Enterprises who need a ready-made dashboard for delivering their real-time results and developers who would like to provide an interactive data dashboard into their applications.

Why would they use it?

Power BI is an attractive and modern approach to leveraging the analytics provided by any of the solutions discussed in this article.

Where do I learn more?

For further insight into Power BI and how it can help leverage the Fast Data trend, visit the product page and the service overview.

There is a lot more to know about Microsoft and Fast Data. Be sure to learn more about Data Factory, Data Catalog, Event Hubs, and Cognitive Services. In addition to the “Where do I learn more” links, here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:

Hopefully this quick overview has provided a helpful look at several of Microsoft’s offerings in this exciting and growing area.Microsoft Partner Network members don’t have to be experts in all aspects of Fast Data to benefit from the opportunities it provides. Being able to answer business questions like “Why should I use HDInsight instead of installing Hadoop in my data center?” can be enough lead to a valuable new cloud implementation project.

About Content Editor N

Content editor of PressCenter website.

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