Growing companies have a lot to worry about these days. How many new people will we need to staff?  How do we produce more? How do we scale out our business? How do we reign in our costs?  Where should we invest more? How is the market changing?  How is the customer changing? How do we stay relevant and competitive?  These are all questions that are impossible to answer without data, and data only becomes useful when you have the right tools to analyze it.

As a growing company, you probably have a lot of internal data created by your business and also access to external data that could tell you something about your market.  Some of this data might be stored more securely on-premises, while some of it might be more accessible or scalable in the cloud for ease of access or collaboration.  Your data might be coming from different systems you’re using, and therefore in varying form factors. There might be a lot of it, and you might wonder how you’ll continue to store and access that increasing volume of data in a cost effective way as your company continues to grow and generate even more data.  You want the data to be easy for all your employees to analyze, so they don’t always have to rely on specialized data scientists in corporate IT.  And finally, you know that every pitch would be more powerful with dynamic and visual data supporting it, because at the end of the day, data insights is about telling a story that is able to drive business actions. 

Microsoft’s data platform offers all these things.  In fact, Microsoft is the only technology vendor to offer all these things.  And Microsoft is able to do it with leading innovations in enterprise technology that are integrated into a complete data platform.

Innovative Technology Leader

Many technology vendors describe their latest products as “innovative” or “game changers”, but how many actually have the technology to back up those claims?  How many times have we heard “in-memory” data processing referred to as “revolutionary”, when in fact that same technology was already being used by other vendors, and the very concept of in-memory computing was invented, well, with computers

Microsoft’s data platform features technology that is truly innovative.  Allow me to call out a few examples:

  • SQL Server 2014 In-Memory OLTP:  You’ve heard a lot about in-memory analytics, so what’s special about this particular in-memory feature?  SQL Server 2014 offers the unique flexibility of choosing which tables to put in-memory, providing major gains in transactional processing speeds.  It’s also the first in-memory data model that was designed for OLTP workloads, and it’s built-in to the SQL Server platform so you don’t have to spend extra time and money figuring out which additional features you need.
  • HDInsight for Azure: Lots of relational database vendors are integrating with Hadoop, but HDInsight is the only one that brings a 100% Hadoop solution to the cloud. You can leverage the elastic scalability of the Azure cloud so there’s virtually no limit on the volume of data you can process.  See how the City of Barcelona used the HDInsight service to deploy their big data solution.
  • Polybase in PDW: Another key Microsoft differentiator when integrating with Hadoop is Polybase, which allows you to execute in-place queries for relational and non-relational data from PDW and from Hadoop with your existing T-SQL skills.  You won’t need to learn MapReduce or spend time pre-populating your existing data warehouse with Hadoop data, which will save you both time and money by letting your existing investments do more.

Complete Data Platform

 As we look into the future of data platforms, there are 3 key categories that will be integral to the success of any platform vendor.  Any tech vendor that claims to have a complete platform should, at a minimum, cover these solutions.

Big Data

Every vendor’s Big Data pitch will start with mind-blowing statistics on the exponential growth of data volume in today’s uber-connected world, and then talk about some level of integration with Hadoop.  But that’s about where the similarities end as each vendor has taken a different approach to solving this problem. You will see some vendors redefining Big Data according to their own strengths, for example, focusing on the speed of data while ignoring the prohibitive costs of storing and processing high volumes of data in a model that’s not scalable.  Other vendors will try to solve the Big Data problem with a big machine, and when your data outgrows that machine, well, you can purchase another machine. 

Microsoft takes a hybrid IT approach to scaling out Big Data.  Technologies like HDInsight and Polybase are the most seamless integrations with Hadoop amongst full stack vendors.  And all this data can be combined and analyzed with Power BI in Microsoft Excel. It’s scalable, cost efficient, and yes, that simple! See how Virginia Tech is using Microsoft’s Big Data solutions in the cloud to transform their life sciences research.

Corporate and Self-Service BI

How do you balance the BI and analytics needs of a central IT organization with the varying needs of functional departments and individual contributors? Companies like Harper Collins were able to rapidly deploy an efficient and agile cloud BI solution that gave their employees control over data.

All within Microsoft Excel, you can easily pull in data from multiple sources, you can analyze that data, and create stunning visualizations, including the ability to play back data changes and trends over time.  No more copying and pasting data sets or chart images into Excel!  Microsoft also has a Q&A feature that allows users to query databases using natural language text like “unit sales by region” or “top 50 customers in Texas by revenue.”

Other BI vendors are either niche players without a supporting enterprise data platform, or offer the data platform without strong BI capabilities. Microsoft is the only complete data platform that offer BI solutions that are both powerful yet intuitive. 

Mission Critical

SQL Server has come a long way for mission critical workloads since its 2000 version from over a decade ago. Today, the SQL Server 14 platform includes in-memory capabilities across analytical and transactional workloads, unprecedented performance and scale, and an environment optimized for hybrid cloud.  We now have a truly enterprise-grade, reliable, and secure data platform that customers trust for their mission critical workloads. 

Unlike other vendors, Microsoft’s mission critical platform is available in your existing on-premises environment, in the cloud, or in hybrid environments to help you transition to a public or private cloud, and also our Parallel Data Warehouse appliance is available with your choice of commodity hardware.  OLTP in SQL Server was designed for transactional processing, and all its innovative features are built right into SQL Server.

A great customer example is BMW using SQL Server 2014 to address its needs for a highly available, scalable, and cost effective mission critical platform.  With SQL 14, BMW has gained nearly continuous availability, eliminated its storage replication, reduced troubleshooting time, and improved disaster recovery.

Microsoft is the only technology vendor that is able to provide a complete enterprise data platform – with a modern data warehouse, robust corporate BI capabilities, intuitive self-service BI capabilities, cloud SQL management, modern OLTP that is fast and reliable, and big data capabilities – all spanning on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments. Scan through the list of other technology vendors your company currently has, and see how many of those vendors can score 100% on that checklist. (Hint: it should be zero)

Thanks for reading today! If you have an extra minute or two, make sure to check out the short video below summarizing how Microsoft is better able to help you get the most out of your data insights.