Cortana Intelligence 2016 round-up

In earlier posts I wrote about the Cortana Intelligence offering from Microsoft. The content was split over 4 articles, you can read about it here. These articles covered the different products and solutions for getting information out of your data. We did some tests on some of the offerings and went a bit more into detail on other.

In the meantime, I got some comments from people asking me what I personally think are (will be?) the current top offerings (November 2016) on the Cortana Intelligence Suite. I could not limit it to three, so here is my top four, in order of (my) importance:

  1. Machine Learning Studio
  2. SQLServer 2016
  3. Power BI
  4. The Microsoft R offering

Machine Learning Studio

This is probably the most innovative tool in the whole suite. It provides an online easy-to-use web interface to create and publish machine learning experiments. It offers integration of R and Python, the two major languages used in the machine learning world. The market place is a convenient location to start building you own experiments or use them out of the box. It is not a tool for end-users, so some knowledge of data science is needed, but you do not need to be an expert in one of the languages mentioned earlier or know about all details of a certain algorithm. Click here for our overview or here for an older (still relevant!) article. Curious to see how the product will evolve in the coming months.

SQLServer 2016

Although I did not cover the latest version of the almighty SQLServer (hasn’t been released that long ago), I am convinced that this product will play an important role in (advanced) data analytics the coming years. Next to the already well-established SQLServer database engine, Microsoft added (or improved) a lot of things on the analytics and data science side. Two of the most important ones are the BI capabilities and the R-integration, bringing two worlds together.

Power BI

Power BI is definitely going to  be an important player in reporting and analytics field. It has multi-platform support and is rather easy to use. It works together with all kind of data sources and has a tight integration with SQLServer. It doesn’t have the flair and ease of use yet like products such as Tableau or QlikView, but it is getting close.

The Microsoft R offering

This is a very smart move by Microsoft. Last year they bought Revolution R and they are integrating this in their ML and SQL offering. By embracing the R-language and leaving it open source, they potentially opened up their Cortana offering to thousands of R users. A very smart move indeed.