Data science with Microsoft – Personal BI to Personal Data Science

How do you go from Personal BI to Personal Data Science?
Isn’t Data Science only for those rare unicorns that are smarter than most of us combined?
Can we even democratize Data Science within the enterprise?Personal BI & Data Science

Kimberly Hermans (twitter) and I presented on this topic last week, the 27th of November, at the Microsoft UK office. Jen Stirrup (blog | twitter) had organized a great event for the community there: “Data Culture Day London – Power BI Edition“.

This is a write-up of the presentation “Personal BI to Personal Data Science”, hopefully it will make you want to attend the presentation.
Currently you can still attend it at the next SQL Server Usergroup event in Belgium on the 8th of December.
After that date, take a look at my calendar to see if I’m delivering this session somewhere else.

Read on!

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Data science with Microsoft – Training materials

Today I’ll be guiding you through the, sometimes very busy, world of Microsoft training material.
We’ll put the focus on the training material for data science.

Expect everything you need to become fluent with Microsoft’s Data science solutions.

  • Free training courses with certificates
  • Free webinars & recordings of live sessions
  • Free (e-)books
  • Documentation & Learning Paths
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy

Read on for the good stuff!

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Data science with Microsoft – An introduction

Let’s be honest, Microsoft isn’t a name that would traditionally be associated with data science.
But just as we’ve witnessed in other areas, they have quickly caught up!

in the last year we’ve seen the following appear on the Microsoft Data Science radar:

  • Azure Machine Learning
  • Power BI
  • Cortana Analytics Suite
  • Acquisition of Datazen & Revolution Analytics
  • Integration of R in SQL Server

Looking at it like this, it’s just a list like any other. Not even a big list.
The magic happens when we look at what this means for the developers, consultants and ultimately the business.


Azure Machine Learning

We now have the ability to create AND deploy predictive models in minutes using Azure Machine Learning.

AzureMachineLearning2 AzureMachineLearning

This opens up interesting possibilities where we can send data from SQL Server, a SQL Azure Database or just live from a mobile application or excel to gain insights


Power BI

If you still need an introduction to Power BI then you’re doing something wrong.
Contact me on twitter, LinkedIn or via the comments.
I’ll gladly talk you through Power BI and why you should be using it for almost everything you do with data in your company.
I mean that, get in touch with me. Now! 🙂

But on a more serious note, I’m going to be crude to Microsoft here.
A long time ago, Power BI started as an over-hyped and underwhelming experience. Everyone saw the potential this Excel stuff had but I’m guessing the experience most people had was similar to mine. That is, Power BI back then was a disappointment because of what we were expecting.
The one good thing it did have at one point was PowerPivot.

Skip forward to august 2015.
The Power BI dream had suddenly come true!
Most of the things we were expecting in the past suddenly were there, in a web service AND a desktop application.
AMAZING!

Skip forward 3 more months and Power BI has exceeded our wildest dreams.
I could literally fill books with all the great stuff the Power BI team has done and enabled for the community.
The Power BI API, a plugin for PowerPoint, custom visualizations, support on all devices, enterprise ready and a lot more all combined with a CRAZY pace of new releases!

If you haven’t used Power BI yet, skip all the praise and commercial talk, go download the desktop application and start working with it. Soon you’ll be an Power BI evangelist as well 😉

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Cortana Analytics Suite

If I had to summarize Cortana Analytics for anyone, I’d say it is basically Azure Machine Learning for predictive analytics combined with Power BI for a beautiful presentation of your data. And sprinkled on top are some of the most incredible and integrated services you can dream of.

Cortana Analytics is not really a product, it’s more a combination of several services that work really great together and form a solution to your questions.
It enables different scenario’s for any case you can think of.

Whether you have a scenario with real-time data analytics, (real-time) predictive analytics or you’re just in need of a data lake to fill with your data for analysis, Cortana Analytics is where you need to be.

This picture from Microsoft summarizes the Cortana Analytics Suite the best.
It shows you how different tools fit different purposes in the chain from data to insight to action.

Cortana-Analytics-Suite[1]


Acquisition of Datazen & Revolutions Analytics

Not much to say except: WOW!
I bet I’m not the only one who did not see both of these coming.

Datazen was already known for it’s mobile dashboarding solutions. It’s acquisition could only mean something big was coming for on-premises BI.
And it did, Microsoft announced at PASS Summit 2015 that Datazen would basically be integrated with SSRS to provide an outstanding mobile BI solution for those who must stay on-premises.

Revolution Analytics was widely known in the world of the R programming language.
Where R standard is limited to a single machine and the memory that machine has, Revolution Analytics provided a scalable solution.
How cool is that? So cool that Microsoft wanted it integrated in SQL Server 2016!
I’m sure that the R services in SQL Server 2016 are just a starting point. But imagine the possibilities from a data science perspective when you combine this with the columnstore and in-memory technologies.

splash[1] architecture[1]

Integration of R in SQL Server

This isn’t just R in SQL Server, it’s an implementation of Revolution R Enterprise in SQL Server!

No longer do you have to pull data to your developer machine, data can just stay in the database where it should be.
Combine this with columnstore indexes and the in-memory technology and you know that the data scientists are now drooling.
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Summary

Microsoft has improved so much in the last year, it’s as if it’s a whole new company.
Data professionals are getting a lot of shiny new toys and can expect a lot more solutions to be build end to end on a Microsoft platform.
Whether that platform is on-premises or in the cloud is up to the business to decide.

Data science is no longer unknown territory for people who work with SQL Server, it’s already on our doorstep.
On top of that, Microsoft’s Cortana Analytics solution offers incredible value and an ease of use I’ve never seen before with something like this.
It took me only an hour to set up a solution that parsed real-time sensor data, combined it with reference data in a database and then show it on a Power BI dashboard.

One thing is sure, you can expect some interesting blog posts in the feature.
Not only from myself but the entire SQL Server community!

When you’re ready, move on to this list of training materials I compiled for you. Let’s get started!

Microsoft Foundation Sessions at PASS Summit 2015

This years PASS Summit has seen some of the biggest announcements in SQL Server and Microsoft Business Intelligence history.

  • We’ve finally gotten a clear vision where Microsoft is heading.
    And it even makes sense!
  • Microsoft already was the leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems
    But SQL Server 2016 will bring even more improvements.
  • In the past year, Power BI has gone from “OK” to “Nice” to “Wooooooooow“.
    With all the new announcements, it seems like Microsoft is not even taking it’s foot of the throttle.
  • Cortana Analytics Suite is Microsoft’s way to help you get insight and take action on your data.
    It’s basically everything you need for your Data Science scenario’s.

Below are some Microsoft Foundation sessions from the PASS Summit that talk about these products and what you can expect from them, now and in the future.

If you’re interested in just a list of features, check out Chris Webb’s blog post about the announcements.


Business Intelligence


Advanced Analytics


Big Data and Data Warehousing


Developing Modern Applications on Azure

 


Video’s via http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2015/PASStv/Microsoft.aspx

Cortana Analytics Suite – 2015/9 Workshop Videos

With all this news about Power BI it’s easy to forget about the important role it plays in the Cortana Analytics Suite.

Most of us couldn’t attend the Cortana Analytics Suite workshop in Seattle but that doesn’t mean you have to be sad!
Now you can watch all the videos from the comfort of your own chair!

Wait, you don’t know about the Cortana Analytics Suite or the workshop yet?

Quick, read on!

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