This week at Microsoft’s World Partner Conference (WPC), more jaw dropping announcements were made for business intelligence and analytics fanatics. To be completely transparent with you, I still have not recovered from the excitement coming out of Power BI GA, Spark and open source D3.js visualization news released last Friday. We are seeing a new Microsoft that is not moving slowly and keeps on surprising everyone.
The annual WPC keynotes and demos were jam-packed with significant announcements across numerous Microsoft solution offerings. If you want to watch the keynotes, check out the recordings on the event web site. In all that buzz, the early reveal of Cortana Analytics Suite that is expected to be in market this coming Fall 2015 stole my heart and won me at “hello”.
What is Cortana Analytics Suite
Cortana Analytics Suite was built on years of Microsoft’s research and innovation in perceptual intelligence including speech recognition, natural user interaction, predictive and advanced analytics. It is a fully-managed big data and advanced analytics offering that transforms data into intelligent action. As an end-to-end cloud platform framework, Cortana Analytics Suite includes an integrated, comprehensive set of analytics tools, services and preconfigured solutions. The key benefits are secure, scalable, fast and flexible roll out of big data analytics projects, reducing time to market and project costs over do-it-all-yourself approaches.
While data is pervasive, actionable intelligence is typically elusive. The beauty of analytics is in transforming data into intelligent action or reinventing business processes. To do this in a big data world, you need to easily analyze extreme amounts of data. Also culturally your organization needs to shift from a historical “what” mindset to understanding “why” to getting savvier and predicting “what”. Cortana Analytics Suite intends to enable analytic maturity and sophistication. Finally we are seeing predictive and prescriptive analytics take center stage. It seems like I have been waiting forever for this day.
Most of the individual Cortana Analytics Suite services are already in market or in preview today.
- Azure Data Factory
- Azure Data Catalog
- Azure Event Hub
- Azure Data Lake
- Azure SQL Data Warehouse
- Azure Machine Learning
- Azure HDInsight (Hadoop)
- Azure Stream Analytics
- Power BI
Walking through the Cortana Analytics Suite logical architecture diagram, we see services to ingest data using modern design patterns. There are information management capabilities provided by Azure Data Factory that enable data extraction from many structured and unstructured data source types. Azure Event Hubs offer the same type of ingestion capabilities but for Internet of Things (IoT) data streams and end points. Imported data can be persisted or scaled up and down with big data storage services like Azure HDInsight, Azure Data Lake and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. From there, you can use a wide range of analytics services from Azure ML to Azure Stream Analytics. Last but not least, the resulting data sets and analytic models can then be surfaced in dashboards, smart interactive reports and mobile proactive alerts via Power BI.
What about Cortana
The Cortana Analytics Suite integrates with Cortana, Microsoft’s digital personal assistant. Analytics services and predictive models can be combined with Cortana capabilities that can be cooked into different user interfaces across desktop, web or mobile apps. Essentially users can naturally interact with these intelligent apps via speech. Even better and far more impactful, smart app users can be notified by Cortana if the analytics model finds a new anomaly or insight that deserves decision attention.
Intelligent Industry Solutions
We have already seen a few creative combinations of advanced analytics capabilities being showcased in the wild such as the super fun, viral www.how-old.net project. These are the types of preconfigured solutions Cortana Analytics Suite will make even easier to build than they are right now. Today learning all these new and evolving big data analytics technologies can be a bit daunting even for data lovers like me that thrive on keeping our brains stimulated. If you do venture down the bleeding-edge path of big data analytics, you will have to sling a bit of code to stitch APIs together.
For more information
If Cortana Analytics Suite sounds interesting to you, there are more details posted on the sizzling new website. There is also an upcoming webinar on July 23rd. Now if you can make a trip out to Redmond, the product team is hosting a Cortana Analytics Workshop on September 10-11, 2015.
What an incredible time to be in the analytics profession! Sigh, it is now 5:16AM EST…just another crazy day in life at Microsoft.