Microsoft Bolsters Azure with Machine Learning, Data Services, and Cloud Analytics Updates

Microsoft is continuing to add new features and functionality to their Microsoft Azure cloud service, and announced earlier this week that Azure was being updated with enhanced machine learning, data services, and cloud analytics features. Microsoft seems to be making a concerted effort to make Big Data services available to a wider group of users, and the bulk of these enhancements seem to be aimed at making that vision a reality.

Azure Machine Learning

Arguably the biggest news was the general availability of Azure Machine Learning, a new managed cloud service that  provides advanced data analytics capabilities. Every modern business and organization generates terabytes of data from sales figures, emails, data points, and hundreds of other sources. Azure Machine Learning is designed to help analytics professionals more effectively tap into all that data.

In a joint blog post announcing the availability of Azure Machine Learning, Microsoft’s Joseph Sirosh (corporate vice president, Machine Learning) and T. K. “Ranga” Rengarajan (corporate vice president, Data Platform) underscored Microsoft’s objectives for Azure Machine Learning and stressed that the company hopes the new service will help businesses more effectively utilize the ever-increasing amount of business information.

“It is a first-of-its-kind, managed cloud service for advanced analytics that makes it dramatically simpler for businesses to predict future trends with data,” Rengarajan and Sirosh write. “…developers and data scientists can 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.”

Sirosh is also scheduled to deliver a keynote about Azure Machine Learning on Friday, Feb 20th, at 9:40 AM PT, which is also available via live-stream.

Updates to Azure HD Insight

Another bit of news from the Microsoft Azure team was made at the Strata + Hadoop World conference, which is taking place in San Jose, CA this week. Hadoop is a key technology in the world of big data, and Microsoft’s Azure HDInsight cloud service is based on Apache Hadoop. The Microsoft news from the Strata + Hadoop conference focused on the ability to now run HDInsight on Ubuntu clusters, while Hortonworks announced companion news that the Hortonworks Data Platform Version 2.2 is now also available in Azure HDInsight.

New Azure Marketplace Partners

In addition to the Azure Machine Learning and Azure HD Insight News, Microsoft also revealed that it is building out it’s network of data partners, namely with Informatica releasing new agents and connectors for Microsoft Azure. According to Informatica, the Informatica Cloud Integration Secure Agent on Microsoft Azure and the Informatica Cloud Connector for Microsoft Azure Storage are now both available in the Microsoft Azure marketplace.

So what do you think of Microsoft’s Big Data-friendly updates to Microsoft Azure? I’d love to hear what you think, so please add a comment to this blog post, or contact me on Twitter or Google+. You can also catch up on my posts in the Petri IT Knowledgebase forums.