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Introducing Microsoft’s Cortana Analytics Suite

As far back as this year’s Ignite event, Microsoft has been mentioning “Cortana Analytics” by name.  But at the first-ever Cortana Analytics Workshop in Redmond this past Sept 10 and 11, they unveiled a bigger offering and vision linking their current slate of cloud-based data platform tools.
It’s known that Microsoft has been using Big Data technology for Exabyte (EB) level storage and search internally for years; this is the story of Bing and building the data underpinnings of a major search engine.  Hadoop-based cloud services like HDInsight and the ability to run Linux and Hortonworks HDP on Azure Virtual Machines have made their way to being a part of Microsoft’s offerings for some time now.
EvolutionOfAnalytics
But with Cortana Analytics, Microsoft is democratizing this capability using Azure as a delivery platform, and realizing a much fuller vision that Azure and cloud technology now provide.  To this back-end data storage backdrop, Microsoft is adding event capture and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities, plus R-based statistical modeling services in order to provide some very compelling full data lifecycle analytics functionality.
Cortana Analytics refers to a cloud-based ecosystem hosted in Microsoft Azure for building and deploying elastic, scalable modern data warehousing and advanced analytics solutions.  The entire data workflow — from event ingest/data capture, to data storage, to analytical processing and transformation, to modeling, to real-world deployment — is covered by a set of cloud-based services are intended to be combined to collect events and data and turn them into actionable intelligence, enabling human or automated action.
CortanaAnalyticsSuite_HighLevelDiagram
So, the Cortana Analytics Suite encompasses a set of these data-oriented Azure PaaS offerings, including:

  • Azure Event Hub
  • Azure Data Catalog
  • Azure Data Factory
  • Azure Data Lake
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • Azure Stream Analytics
  • Azure HDInsight
  • Azure Machine Learning
  • Power BI
  • Cortana

In upcoming posts, I’m going to break these services into functional groups, and try to place them in the context of a hypothetical solution.   Next time:  We’ll start the series proper with a discussion of Event and Data Ingestion and Storage in Cortana Analytics.

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