Connectivity is getting lots of attention from Microsoft, and the company wants you to know it. On its blog, it views the Internet of Things (“IoT”) as connecting everything from devices to cloud to business intelligence tools. Its Azure cloud service is getting another revamp in connecting data.

At an Accelerate Your Insights event, the software giant announced Microsoft Azure Intelligent Systems Service is available as a public preview. In short, Microsoft wants its customers to have the capabilities of extracting insights across many data sources. Analyzing data is nothing new. What is different this time around is that data is coming from an array of sources. This includes legacy data all the way to connected devices. To accelerate adoption of Microsoft’s solution, Microsoft touts Azure as being agnostic to operating systems (“OS”).

Embedded devices and sensors are some of the hardware whose OS type won’t impede it from being used. Microsoft partnered with outsourcing firms, including Cognizant and Infosys. It is working with telent and CGI to build solutions for the London Underground project.

Analytics gets a boost

Microsoft’s platform for Analytics was also announced. The hardware will have parallel processing for SQL Server data warehousing and for Apache Hadoop-based solutions.

SQL Server 2014 launched

SQL Server is one of the most widely adopted database solution in the market. Microsoft announced its update to version 2014. The biggest feature in this version is in-memory processing. Microsoft advertises accelerated transaction processing times will mean better performance, sometimes as high as 30 times faster than the last version. Microsoft will obviously benefit from selling SQL Server, Azure, Office 365, and Excel solutions. The company cites query times using in-memory technology in SQL Server 2014 will mean query times drop to minutes, instead of days.

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Microsoft reborn

The slew of product announcements is more invigorating than those made in the past. Microsoft is under new leadership with CEO Satya Nadella. It has a refreshed Windows Phone smart phone line-up whose market share is gaining traction.  Microsoft Office has and will always be a very popular productivity suite for consumers and businesses. By making their own data more accessible, customers will have better reason to build its Microsoft platform.

HP Pavillion x2

Fierce competition

The cloud and big data market is fiercely competitive. Teradata and Informatica rule big data. Intel, Cisco, and ARM Holdings benefit as demand for the cloud get bigger, since they supply much of the hardware. In the analytics market are companies like TIBCO Software, Tableau and Splunk. These are the companies Microsoft will compete with. The market is big enough for all players. Take a look at the virtualization market. VMWare and Citrix Systems dominate the market, but are largely still growing even after Microsoft bundled HyperV with the Windows Server operating system.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft’s product announcement is refreshing, since the expectation of lower PC shipments is weighing on the prospects for Windows 8 software. Tablets are now ubiquitous in the market, having overshadowed PC shipment numbers for some time now. Yet tablet growth is slowing, and Windows XP is no longer supported. At some point, everyone will needed to replace their obsolete PCs. Microsoft will be more than happy if it were installed with a variant of Windows 8.x.

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