Microsoft Azure Aims To Bring Big Data Mainstream

As part of its ongoing focus on technologies that can tease meaning from massive amounts of data, Microsoft announced Wednesday that it is bringing machine learning to its cloud-based Azure platform. Redmond also rolled out Storm, an open source platform for real-time, big data analytics on its Azure HDInsight Hadoop-based cloud service.

Microsoft unveiled several new data services as part of its participation in the Strata + Hadoop World conference being held in San Jose this week. In addition to Azure Machine Learning and Storm, those new services also include the addition of Informatica technology on Azure and a preview look at a Linux version of Azure HDInsight.

"These new services are part of our continued investment in a broad portfolio of solutions to unlock insights from data," according to T.K. "Ranga" Rengarajan, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft's Data Platform, and Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President for Machine Learning. "Simply put, we want to bring big data to the mainstream."

Real-Time Analytics and IoT

The addition of machine learning to its Azure platform will make it "dramatically simpler for businesses to predict future trends with data," Rengarajan and Sirosh noted. Carnegie Mellon University, for example, has deployed machine learning to identify potential failures in its building heating and cooling systems and model the impact of solar radiation on building temperatures over time. This has helped the school implement energy-saving measures that are expected to cut heating and cooling costs by 20 percent.

Azure Machine Learning can help developers and data scientists "build and deploy apps to improve customer experiences, predict and prevent system failures, enhance operational efficiencies, uncover new technical insights, or a universe of other benefits," according to Rengarajan and Sirosh. Such advanced analytics typically take weeks or months and require extensive investment in people, hardware and software to manage big...

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