Making data analytics more affordable

There were quite a few announcements from Microsoft at the Build 2015 conference, among them news about new SaaS offerings for data platform.

Exciting previews of Azure SQL Data Warehouse and Azure Data Lake and what it will mean for business intelligence customers

These offering include:

  • Azure SQL elastic database
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse – a fully managed relational data warehouse-as-a-service
  • Azure Data Lake – a hyper-scale data store optimised for big data analytic workloads.

It is all rather exciting!

Of course the most exciting news for me was the upcoming preview of Azure Data Warehouse, which will be available later this year.

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is based on the massive parallel processing architecture currently available in the Analytics Platform System (APS) appliance. While the APS appliance will allow your analytical queries to run in an instant, it is also highly complex and requires a deep understanding of the many technologies involved.

That’s why Intergen team members have to go through extensive Microsoft training to deliver consulting services for APS. Azure SQL Data Warehouse will have the same capabilities as APS, but – because it’s a pay-as-you-go service – will not have a large up-front cost.

This will benefit our clients. A data warehouse is still a big up-front investment that can be difficult to justify, especially if it’s large or the business requires data analysis results to be delivered in nearly real-time.

The ability to pay as you go will be attractive to organisations who want to run their business more intelligently using advanced data analytics. That is why the announcement was exciting for me – I would love more businesses to utilise the power of analytics.

How does Azure SQL Data Warehouse compare with similar services in the market? Will it rival Amazon Red Shift or Snowflake? We won’t know until the preview is available. I’ll be keen to evaluate the “price to performance” ratio, and you can be sure I’ll keep you posted.

One thing we do know is that Azure SQL Data Warehouse is said to work with existing data tools including Power BI in Office 365 for interactive data visualisation and self-service data discovery, as well as with Azure Machine Learning for advanced analytics. That’s good news for us and our clients as we are currently delivering many Power BI projects and have found Power BI interactive dashboards to be a big success with decision makers and executives.

Why are they such a success? Because with these dashboards, Intergen delivers a comprehensive overview of the state of the business at a glance, along with the ability to drill down to the details for exception reporting. Below is an example of a Power BI Dashboard that the Intergen BI Team built for Big Data Strata conference in Chicago and New York.

Example of a Power BI Dashboard built by Intergen for the big Data Strata Conference.

It is great to see the Azure data platform not only offering many new services, but also delivering enhancements to existing services.

If you would like more details please get in touch. I would be delighted to show you what we have done for our clients and discuss how we can add value to your business.

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