Microsoft's Surefire Big Data Strategy: Run What You Brung

In the race to deploy hot new big data solutions, there will be winners and there will be losers. Some might never get off the starting line, some will crash along the way. What is certain is that the companies which can leverage their data more effectively and more broadly will have a competitive advantage. Just like in a race, the sooner you get an edge, even a few tenths of a second per lap, the more you will build a lead.

Not everyone comes to the race with the same equipment. Some make huge investments in the best, fastest, most modern technology, hoping it will pay off after extensive R&D and real world testing.

Some rely on years of experience tuning what they already have. There is an expression in motor racing for this: “run what you brung.” Rather than try to overthink it and win by outspending your competitors, take your existing, well-known solution and keep making it incrementally better. There is little point in complaining about others’ technical advantages, but you can still win with a little cleverness and luck.

Microsoft is hitting the big data track using the run what you brung concept, though they are relaunching it as a “platform for ambient intelligence.” The basic ideas are to leverage three semi-distinct offerings which share the common advantages of being extremely well-known in the market:

  • Excel
  • SQL Server
  • Azure

The idea is that with the huge market adoption and familiarity, people just need a little help tuning these together in order to have an unbeatable platform to get employees engaged with their data in powerful new ways.

Some big upgrades include:

  • New real-time visualizations and analysis tools within Excel - everyone knows Excel already, just give them more power
  • New native in-memory capabilities to SQL Server - dramatically improve performance without the pain of switching to a new database
  • New Analytics Platform System to combine relational data with Hadoop via Polybase - supplement structured with unstructured
  • New Azure Intelligent Systems Service - bring Internet of Things data into the cloud and analyze it directly there for less friction

Frankly, I love that Microsoft is playing to its strengths, leveraging the existing tools, and most importantly combining them in new ways to deliver a familiar, yet way more powerful big data solution.

The challenge will be how to get the market to refocus on better using what they already have instead of all the shiny new technologies and startups competing for mindshare….

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI Cloud Services & Orchestration