Since I’m a data nut, I’m intrigued with Microsoft’s new offering referred to as the Cortana Analytics Suite (which I’ll call CAS for short).
First things first, CAS is not a product in and of itself, though it will have its own pricing. CAS can be thought of as a bundle of integrated products and services. It’s somewhat similar to the idea of the Office suite or the SQL Server suite, both of which contain various components that are interoperable (at least to a certain extent). I get the feeling with CAS that interoperability/integration will be a huge emphasis. Another big emphasis will be on the availability of templates and preconfigured solutions in CAS which should accelerate and simplify development for particular scenarios.
Since CAS isn’t officially available yet, most of what can be found right now are marketing materials – though most of the components are available individually now and have varying levels of technical documentation available. I’m excited to be attending the CAS Workshop in September in Seattle, where I’m hoping to learn a lot more about the integration points, interoperability, accelerators, and overall capabilities.
What are the Components of Cortana Analytics Suite?
Knowing this is a bundle of tools with an emphasis on integration and automation, for the purpose of advanced analytics, what are the components of the suite?
The documentation lists the following as elements of Cortana Analytics Suite:
- Azure Machine Learning
- Azure HDInsight
- Azure Stream Analytics
- Azure Data Lake
- Azure SQL Data Warehouse
- Azure Data Catalog
- Azure Data Factory
- Azure Event Hub
- Power BI
- Face, vision, speech and text analytics
- Preconfigured solutions for recommendations, forecasting, churn, etc.
There are other Azure components that will play a part in data-oriented solutions as well; I’m showing some of these key components in the image above (in orange towards the bottom) even though they aren’t “officially” part of Cortana Analytics Suite.
Why is Cortana in the Name?
One of my first questions when this was announced: Why is Cortana in the name? The idea here is that the personal assistant, Cortana, will be able to provide information upon request or proactively. Something such as: “Hey Cortana, what is the total of yesterday’s sales?” appears to be the next evolutionary step of the Q&A natural language capabilities first seen in Power BI. A public demo indicated that Power BI will be just one way to expose data to Cortana.
Source for image: July 2015 Webinar by Joseph Sirosh
Here’s a very interesting quote from a TechCrunch article:
“As for Cortana, which is the Microsoft voice-driven personal assistant tool in Windows 10, it’s a small part of the solution, but Sirosh says Microsoft named the suite after it because it symbolizes the contextualized intelligence that the company hopes to deliver across the entire suite.”
So, we have an extremely broad platform with Cortana Analytics Suite. Stay tuned for my follow-up posts where we start looking at the individual components.