So the past week has been filled with a whole host of announcements, particularly in the Power BI space, but as well as with Microsoft’s cloud based solutions.

A lot of the information that I have found due to the current World Partner Conference!

So as we do every week, let’s get into the amazing details.

There is quite a bit of content this week, so please scroll down and then down again.

Multiple Power BI Announcements

So there was a whole stack of Power BI Announcements, which has been fantastic news for the BI community

Power BI General Availability – 24 July 2015

There has been a whole host of activity with regards to this fantastic news, as well as the blog post from Microsoft detailed below. So I will quickly give my personal view of this news.

I do think it is the perfect time for Microsoft to from a Preview product to General Availability (GA). It ties in with their release of Windows 10, and being summer in the United States I am sure it is an amazing time there. Also by Power BI coming out of Preview and into an actual product this gives it some additional credibility and traction within a very competitive market.

In terms of Power BI as a whole it has been a whole new way that Microsoft have released a product. Along with this they have actively engaged with the customers and end users and actually listened and often taken the advice from the community and put this into the product. I find this amazing and something that has not been done in the past. And this is where I feel going forward is where Microsoft will leap frog the other vendors.

I also think it is a VERY smart move to open the Visualizations and give the power to the developers. This will result in a massive increase in new charts that were previously never used or never thought of. And this all lends itself to people who want to implement their own charts to start looking at Power BI. Along with this it also continues with the Microsoft community, as I pretty sure without doubt that people will share their visualizations with each other. This means not only does Microsoft benefit, but also the customer or end user.

I might have totally misunderstood all the hype around the above, but I am sure somewhere that there was a hint that there might be a content pack for Twitter data. Now that would be something that would be amazing!

If you want to read about all the details and updates, please read their blog post: Announcing Power BI general availability coming July 24th

Power BI New Capabilities

Microsoft have been super busy and they have released a great blog about the new capabilities that have been released with the General Availability coming up on 24 July 2015

Below are the sections, and you can read the blog post afterwards for more details.

I would just like to highlight the Q&A Visual formatting. I think that this is another great feature. Due to allowing you to be able to format a Q&A question. And the reason that this works so well, is that you will have some questions that will be common amongst the business people. And in my mind you would want this to look really great. As well as potentially really POP when the question is asked. And this now gives the report developer the ability to do this.

  • Office 365 App Launcher
  • Custom URL Support
  • Storage Management
  • Q&A visual formatting

Read here for more details of the above: New capabilities added to Power BI

Power BI – Spark

Once again Microsoft have released another Content pack which I personally think keeps on elevating Microsoft in terms of competing with the likes of QlikView, Tableau etc.

By integrating directly with Spark on HDInsight it allows customers and end users to easily view their data that they have been processing within the Spark. In terms of Spark on HDInsight, that already has made the barrier of entry to use an appliance and software like Spark that much easier and quicker to deploy. Then along with this they plug this into Power BI, which then means that it is a great and powerful interface to visualize their machine learning algorithms and graph computations.

You can read more details here: Visualize big data with Power BI and Spark on Azure HDInsight

Power BI – Acumatica Content Pack

Here is another great content pack from Microsoft and Power BI.

Acumatica Cloud ERP is a cloud based platform that provides business management applications such Financials, Distribution, CRM and Project Accounting.

You can read more about it here: Analyze and Explore your Acumatica Cloud ERP data with Power BI

Power BI – Development of content pack for tyGraph

I read about tyGraph analytics getting a development pack for Power BI. This is really good news as it appears that tyGraph is used by a lot of customers. And by using Power BI it will enable the existing tyGraph customers to leverage Power BI for the reporting requirements.

You can read more about it here: tyGraph Analytics Is Announcing the Development of a Content Pack for Microsoft Power BI

Cortana Analytics

The Cortana Analytics Suite is once again why I really enjoy working within the Microsoft space. It appears to me that they are not only looking to create great cloud based products, but also innovate and create something that as a whole really makes sense for people to want to use and realize the potential of the data that they have, or data that they can create.

I really like the way they have integrated a whole host of applications, to make it easier and simpler for people to be able to use it as a product. And as with anything once you get to use a new product, get a better understanding of the product, you then want to be able to do more. And with Cortana Analytics Suite, they provide out of the box functionality, but going forward it also gives the customer or end user the functionality to dig in a whole lot deeper and create their own custom solutions.

I watched this video below and it is amazing to see how technology can enable people to make smart decisions which in turn makes us happier and healthier. In my view it also shows where this is going in the future. As well as how there are unbounding possibilities of how we can integrate things (IoT) and make quicker decisions than ever before.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock ushers in a new age of proactive, personalized healthcare using Cortana Analytics Suite – Watch the Video inspiring stuff

You can read more about Cortana Analytics here: Cortana Analytics

Particle and Microsoft

I think that this is another great partnership, especially the way we are starting to see the IoT happening and starting to gain some real traction. I also find that Particle is a great company that is enabling their customers to do things that previously were either too expensive to implement or were never thought about! And I am pretty sure further down the line, this will integrate with Power BI, or Particle will create an interface using the Power BI REST API.

You can read more about it here: Microsoft + Particle

Azure Data Catalog

This is another great cloud based product from Microsoft. The reason that I thought to put it in my blog, is that there are a lot of businesses that are looking to see how to manage their metadata catalog, as well as where the business information is stored. And this is where the Azure Data Catalog comes in.

This enables almost any business user to be able to put up some information about their data and where they got it from. As well as enriching their data source information with what they are doing with the actual data. This enables other people within the business to quickly identify where the actual source of their data is. I think that this will mean the more people that know where to get the data, the more the data will be used. Which in turn will lead to better insight into their data. Which will finally or potentially lead to business value!

You can read about it here: Announcing the Public Preview of Azure Data Catalog

Power Query Update

I just saw that there was another Power Query update for Excel.

There are a total of 6 updates listed below:

  • Improvements to ODBC Connector
  • Navigator dialog improvements
  • Option to enable Fast Data Load versus Background Data Load
  • Support for Salesforce Custom environments in Recent Sources list
  • Easier parsing of Date or Time values out of a Text column with Date/Time information
  • Unpivot Other Columns entry in column context menu

You can read about it here: 6 updates in Power Query for Excel

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