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Microsoft brings machine learning to Azure

Microsoft rolls out Hadoop-based Big Data analytics and an open source analytics platform for Azure.

self service big data
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At the Strata + Hadoop World conference in San Jose last week, Microsoft announced new and enhanced Microsoft data services for Azure. This includes a preview of Azure HDInsight running on Linux, the general availability of Storm on HDInsight, the general availability of Azure Machine Learning, and the availability of Informatica technology on Azure.

"We're embracing open technologies, so people can use the tools, languages and platforms of their choice to pull the maximum value from their data. Simply put, we want to bring big data to the mainstream," wrote T.K. "Ranga" Rengarajan, corporate vice president for Microsoft's Data Platform, and Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president for Machine Learning, in the blog post announcing the services.

Azure HDInsight Hadoop-based cloud service is built on Ubuntu clusters along with Windows Server, allowing for simple deployment and offering a managed service level agreement and full technical support.

Storm for Azure HDInsight is an open source stream analytics platform that runs on top of HDInsight and can process millions of data events in real time as they are generated by sensors and devices. Microsoft claims that Storm can be deployed and performing real-time analytics within minutes. Storm is also available for both .NET and Java so developers can write, deploy, and debug real-time Storm applications directly in Visual Studio.

Azure Machine Learning, also introduced last week, is a managed cloud service for advanced analytics that makes it simpler for businesses to predict future trends with data. Using Python and R languages, Microsoft said that developers and data scientists can build and deploy apps in just a few hours to improve customer experiences, predict and prevent system failures, enhance operational efficiency, uncover new technical insights, and many other benefits.

Rengarajan and Sirosh cited Carnegie Mellon University as an example of what Azure Machine Learning can do. The university has deployed machine learning to identify fault detection in its building heating and cooling systems and have come up with models for more efficient solar energy usage. This has helped the school implement energy-saving measures that could reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 20%.

Finally, Microsoft has added Informatica as an Azure Marketplace partner, making Informatica's Cloud Integration Secure Agent available to Azure users on both Linux and Windows virtual machines. The new Azure service will let enterprise users "create data pipelines from both on-premises systems and the cloud to Azure data services such as Azure HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Data Factory, and others, for management and analysis," according to Rengarajan's and Sirosh's blog post.

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