Collecting Big Data is significant only if you can make use of it. With Windows Azure HDInsight Service, organizations can use Apache Hadoop clusters in Windows Azure. Combining the Microsoft platform with open-source tools like Hadoop equates to unprecedented insight into more data, from more sources, in any format—structured and unstructured. Here are a few examples:

Chr. Hansen develops food, pharmaceutical, and agricultural ingredients for global clients. By creating a hybrid cloud solution in less than one week with Windows Azure, HDInsight, and existing SQL Server 2012 databases, the company increased the number of trials it could analyze by 100 times. Read the full story here.

Ascribe is a leading provider of clinical IT solutions in the United Kingdom. To recognize outbreaks of health threats faster, Ascribe created a hybrid cloud solution in just six weeks using Windows Azure, HDInsight, and SQL Server 2012. Now in just seconds, automated processes can analyze millions of records from disparate sources including social media feeds—and deliver potentially life-saving alerts to mobile devices and desktops. Read more here.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is a leading US research institution that recently implemented an on-demand, cloud computing model using HDInsight. With it, the university is saving money, and researchers working on new cancer therapies and antibiotics are accomplishing more, and enjoying easier access to DNA-sequencing tools and resources. The details are here.

There are lots of Big Data and cloud-service options but what sets Windows Azure HDInsight Service apart is that it’s part of the larger end-to-end Microsoft platform, so you get more than just a service. You get built-in tools for creating highly effective, available, scalable, and affordable enterprise-ready solutions that include BI (supported by SQL Server and Microsoft Office) and mobile apps (created with Visual Studio). On top of that, Windows Azure solutions can run entirely in the cloud—or work with existing systems. You get to choose.

To learn more about what’s possible with the Microsoft platform, read Microsoft’s Cloud OS Vision.