Microsoft has made some big moves in the area of big data analytics.

Last week Microsoft announced that it has agreed to acquire Revolution Analytics, a commercial provider of software and services for R, a programming language used for statistical computing and predictive analytics.

Microsoft said it is making the acquisition to help its customers make effective use of big data with advanced analytics.

"As their volumes of data continually grow, organizations of all kinds around the world – financial, manufacturing, health care, retail, research – need powerful analytical models to make data-driven decisions," noted Microsoft's Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president, machine learning, in a blog post. "This requires high performance computation that is 'close' to the data, and scales with the business’ needs over time. At the same time, companies need to reduce the data science and analytics skills gap inside their organizations, so more employees can use and benefit from R. This acquisition is part of our effort to address these customer needs."

Microsoft has also announced pricing model changes for its Power BI SaaS offerings--a new freemium Power BI offering and a 75 percent reduction in price, to $9.99 per user per month, for the current Power BI service. 

Power BI will help companies "adopt a data culture with easy-to-use, accessible tools and innovative technology that lowers the barriers to entry," said Microsoft's James Phillips, general manager, Data Experiences, in a blog post.

Power BI offers:

  • Real-time and automated dashboard support
  • Natural language query for ad-hoc insight
  • Additional data sources, including Analysis Services, Dynamics, Salesforce, Marketo, Intuit QuickBooks, Sage, Sumo Logic, Visual Studio and several other SaaS offerings
  • Hybrid data connectivity to on-premises data, including SSAS (meaning you can realize the benefits of a cloud-based BI solution without having to move your data to the cloud)
  • New free desktop Power Designer (32-bit, 64-bit) for Power BI content authoring
  • Support for Microsoft Excel-created content for ad hoc data analysis and customizable layout, formatting and charting
  • Additional data visualization types, including combination charts, thematic maps, funnels and gauges
  • Native Mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows phones and tablets
  • Developer APIs for extending the platform

You can explore Power BI for free.

How are you leveraging big data at your organization? Let me know in the comments section below.