Microsoft and the ubiquity of data intelligence

Microsoft‘s had a very busy couple of months. On September 29th, it announced, and I wrote about, several enhancements to HDInsight, its cloud-based Hadoop and Spark Big Data offering. Then, one day later, the company released the September update to Power BI.

Also read: Microsoft HDInsight gets Spark 2.0, faster Hive, and better security
Also read: Microsoft Power BI: A report card

Conference season
Along with the product releases, I had the opportunity last week to sit down and talk with Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Data Platform, Joseph Sirosh and his colleague Rimma Nehme, Technical Advisor, Data Platform. The conversation took place at in New York Strata + Hadoop World, where Sirosh had just keynoted, and did so right on top of another keynote at Microsoft’s own Machine Learning & Data Science Summit event, also held last week, in Atlanta.

As if that were not enough fodder for a post, I’ve just returned from developer conference Visual Studio Live! in Washington, DC, where I co-presented a workshop on SQL Server on Monday and delivered a solo session on HDInsight and another on Power BI, on Thursday.

The conversation with Sirosh and Nehme provided me with Microsoft’s take on all of its efforts. My talks at Visual Studio Live! gave me the opportunity to assess developer reaction to Microsoft’s latest data and analytics updates, and to get very hands-on with both product updates so I could present them, properly. Put that all together, add in a day’s pondering, and there are some good findings to share.

Powering through
First, consider that many of the changes in Power BI involve integration of that product with others. For example, one big update involves the preview availability of ESRI ArcGIS for Power BI. This product provides for the extended mapping technology that ESRI is known for as well as the ability to layer in a vast array of demographic data for the United States and assorted other data from around the world, including for the Nepal earthquake and New Zealand predator control.