Microsoft Extends Cloud Application Services Reach
Next week on July 24th Microsoft plans to make generally available a Power BI analytics service that has the potential to significantly expand usage of business intelligence (BI) software by several orders of magnitude.
Designed to complement existing Microsoft productivity applications such as Excel spreadsheets, John Doyle, director of product marketing for PowerBI, said Microsoft is delivering BI software as a service as part of a concerted effort to expand adoption of this class of software. For all the hype surround BI software over the years, adoption of BI software has been fairly limited. Via this service Microsoft will not only expose more users to BI software, the service itself will become a vehicle through which Microsoft plans to deliver a raft of emerging analytics technologies.
Case in point, Microsoft has made available a technical preview of an Apache Spark for Azure HDInsight service that enables everything from batch and interactive queries, real-time streaming, machine learning, and graph processing. As a complementary set of services, Doyle said Microsoft is clearly gearing up to expand the range and scope of services it provides.
From an integration perspective Doyle noted that all the Microsoft services will expose REST APIs to make integrating them with any number of applications simpler. In that same vein, Microsoft has decided to make the Power BI visualization stack and its complete library of visuals an open source project.
For its part, Doyle said Microsoft will make use of those REST APIs to integrate these services with both Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office 365. Within both application environments access to various levels of analytics services will now be a click of a button away from end users.
As far as solution providers across the channel should be concerned these Microsoft cloud services should be viewed as key way to add value to the base set of productivity applications that Microsoft provides. Most organizations either don’t have the time or the expertise required to build and implement advanced analytics and BI applications. Microsoft is clearly moving to reduce the effort associated with deploying these applications in a way that should broaden adoption considerably in the months and year ahead.
In general, solution providers across the channel need to distinguish between what are a Microsoft means to a far larger cloud computing end. For example, there may not be much money to be made in selling Microsoft Office application software. But as a gateway to higher value application services such as PowerBI and Apache Spark for Azure HDInsight it may very well turn out that Microsoft Office is nothing short of priceless.