Power BI trial for non-US customers

We are currently running a preview in the US of the new Power BI experience. This experience is not available yet to customers outside of the US. If you are outside of the US and want to get a trial of Power BI right now, you can set up a trial account for the “old” experience here. The new experience will be available outside of the US as well later.

R Plotting using Azure Machine Learning

Azure Machine Learning is Microsoft’s cloud data mining and machine learning solution. It features a studio that is fully web based. One of the best features is integration with R through the ‘Execute R Script’ component. One of the best things of R is the plotting capability and I recently decided to try to make R plots from Azure ML studio. It is amazing how easy this works and it really brings the power of Azure ML together with the great exploration, plotting and data manipulation capabilities of R.

Here is a very simple sample I made:

I used to Flight Delays sample dataset from Azure ML to make this. In the ML Studio you will need to create a new experiment and drag the ‘Flight Delays Data’ component to the canvas. The only other component you will need to drop on the canvas is ‘Execute R Script’ (I told you this was a very simple example). Drag a line from the data to the left most input port of the R script container like so:

Click on the R script component and edit the R script on the right. Here is my script:

 

This script gets the data from the input port and rbinds it into data.set. Then I executed a very simple plot using the plot base R package to create the plot shown above. The last line of this code is not even necessary but it was there by default.

After running the experiment the plot can be seen by selecting the right output port of the ‘Execute R Script’ container and selecting ‘Visualize':

The plot will be at the bottom of this page.

Pretty cool huh? Stay tuned for more as I will continue experimenting with R integration in Azure ML as well as other ML things.

Master Data Services 2014 Add-in for Excel published

Just a bit over a week ago a new version of the Master Data Services Add-in for Excel was released. It is the 2014 release, which will also work for SQL Server 2012. Main benefit is up to 4x performance improvement without any server configuration changes. If you need extra performance you can get 2x extra by enabling Dynamic Content Compression in IIS on your MDS server.

Here is the download page: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42298.

Happy new year!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and data-filled 2015. Thanks for visiting my blog this past year!
Data nerd as I am, I could not resist sharing with you this blogs annual stats report:
http://jetpack.me/annual-report/53080601/2014/

Enjoy!

Power BI learning resources – follow up 2

Looking to get up to speed with Power BI in limited time? You might be interested in this. “Power BI fundamentals” is a new course published to Microsoft Virtual Academy:

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/excel-2013-power-bi-fundamentals

Enjoy!

Power BI connectivity to Salesforce.com

Here is a short video on how to connect to Salesforce.com from Power BI:

You can now easily get data from Salesforce.com into your Excel / Power BI solution. Enjoy!

Power BI connectivity to SAP Business Objects Universe

Here is a short how-to video on how to connect to SAP Business Objects Universe through Power BI:

Enjoy!

First Look: Azure DocumentDB

The First Look series focusses on new products, recent announcements, previews or things I have not had the time to provide a first look at and serves as introduction to the subject. First look posts are fairly short and high level.

In this First Look: Azure DocumentDB. DocumentDB is a NoSQL document database service designed for mobile / web applications. Since it is a NoSQL database it is a schema-free system it allows flexible storage and processing of data with scale up and down on demand, while still allowing easy querying using a SQL dialect. As such it operates in the same space as other NoSQL systems such as Cassandra, MongoDB, HBase and CouchDB and provides a feature-rich, cost effective and enterprise ready solution.

Development against DocumentDB can be done using .NET, Node.js, JavaScript and Python. On top of this DocumentDB provides a SQL Query language and it is elastically scalable both on throughput and storage.

More info is available at http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/documentdb-introduction/.

More to come!

First Look: Azure Stream Analytics

The First Look series focusses on new products, recent announcements, previews or things I have not had the time to provide a first look at and serves as introduction to the subject. First look posts are fairly short and high level.

Today in First Look: Azure Stream Analytics. This service is currently in preview and provides low latency, high available and scalable complex event processing in the cloud. To do complex event processing SQL Server has StreamInsight; with Azure Stream Analytics we provide a CEP engine in the cloud.

Azure Stream Analytics is built to read data from a source, let’s say a device sensor and collect, process and take action on it in a blink of the eye. A simple example would be to read temperatures from a sensor, aggregate them to calculate an average temperature per 5 seconds and store that data into SQL server. Or a fairly more complex example would be to take output from a video camera that reads license plates, run the license plate through a list of license plates of stolen cars and immediately send a message to a police car nearby.

Because this solution is cloud based it is easy to get started. You can be up and running in literally minutes.

More info is available on http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/stream-analytics-introduction/

More to come!

Zet uw data aan het werk

Big Data en Analytics zijn de populaire termen die je overal hoort. Iedereen heeft er de mond van vol. Vaak komen daar nog een of meerdere van de volgende termen bij: Machine Learning, Predictive Analytics, Self-Service BI, Advanced Visualization en Data Exploration.

Het lijkt zo langerzamerhand wel of al die zaken een doel zijn geworden in plaats van een middel. Onlangs zei een klant tegen mij: “wij doen aan Big Data”. Omdat ik wilde weten wat het doel van die effort was, zei ik: “Stoer, maar waarom?” Het antwoord was:
“Hoezo waarom? Nu we aan Big Data doen, worden we succesvol!”

Wij (technologie leveranciers, Big Data enthousiastelingen, adviesbureaus, consultants, noem maar op) vergeten soms dat al die technologie slechts een middel is in de handen van mensen om een doel te bereiken. Het doel is dan vaak het optimaliseren van de bedrijfsvoering of op een andere manier een economisch voordeel te behalen. Om dat doel te bereiken zijn de technologieën een fantastische aanzet, maar niet genoeg. Mensen maken of breken de inzet van de technologie. Data does not lie, interpretation does. Oftewel: de data kun je wel hebben, maar het is de interpretatie die maakt of het een succes wordt. De vraag “wat zegt de data” is al lang niet meer de enige vraag die gesteld moet worden, maar vooral ook “wat kan ik hiermee” en “hoe communiceren we het”.

Als we samen Big Data e.d. een succes willen laten worden dan moeten we investeren in mogelijkheden om het gebruik, de inbedding en het beschikbaar stellen van informatie gemakkelijk te maken en ook leuk. Want data is leuk.

Onlangs kreeg ik om 22:30 een sms van een data analist bij een klant. Ik had hem die dag gesproken en had hem uitgerust met wat ideeën over hoe hij de middelen kon gebruiken en naar zijn hand zetten. De sms luidde: “Ben net ‘wakker’ geworden achter mijn laptop op kantoor. Het is hier helemaal donker en iedereen is al lang naar huis. Normaal zou ik als een van de eerste buiten staan na de werkdag, maar nu heb ik me enorm vermaakt en ben ik de tijd vergeten!”

Ondanks dat doorwerken tot 22:30 niet echt gezond is en ik dat zeker niet aan iedereen wil aanraden, gun ik wel iedereen die met data werkt die magische creatieve kriebel als je iets moois aan het maken bent; ach, en als je daardoor eens de tijd vergeet, daar zou ik mee kunnen leven…

Op maandag 24 en dinsdag 25 november wordt weer het BI & IM Symposium gehouden (http://www.bisymposium.nl); het grootste evenement in zijn soort van de Benelux. Graag zie ik je daar.