Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Interest in Big Data Increasing

Big data, as we know it, hit the scene in about 2001 so it is nothing new. Companies have been gathering this data for years, but recently there has been an explosion of interest in it like it's a brand new thing. This is mainly due to the fact that there are now new ways of analyzing the data.

Big data started out as a way to store a ton of information, but now it has transformed into something where companies are trying to use it in any way they can to benefit from it in different ways. So here is a list of a few reasons why this is happening.

1. Unstructured data is now readily available

Unlike traditional business insight that analyzes structured data, big data focuses on the unstructured data. This includes emails, videos, photos and posts on social networking sites. Millions of photos get uploaded to Facebook, millions of tweets go out every day, and businesses can use this information to understand their customers better. This helps with suggested sales and such.

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2. It has become incredibly cheap to store huge amounts of data

Unstructured data is becoming more pervasive, but tools like Hadoop, which is an open-source framework for storing large scale data, have developed so much in the last ten years or so. These type of tools underpin data processing for some of the worlds largest businesses with the most amount of data to store. It can take care of unstructured data way faster and way cheaper than the generation of tools that came before them.

3. Not only is it now cheaper to process all of this data, but companies are getting usable information out of it

Retail stores are really taking advantage of big data right now. You might ask what they are getting from it. Good question. They are using customer loyalty cards to gather information. This is a really good way to figure out what they sell and what to stock. Like for example, they might not stock a whole lot of low cost generic food brands... But if they see that their customers who spend the most at their store tend to buy it, then guess what they are going to stock more of? Low cost generic foods.

Loyalty cards and even debit cards really give a huge insight to each individual customer. There was a huge story about this last year actually. A Target customer got really mad when they sent his young daughter coupons to buy baby clothes. Because of the things she was buying, when they processed the data, it seemed like she might be expecting a baby soon. It seems like kind of a mess up on their part, but it's actually really smart overall.

4. Big data analytics could lead to productivity gains in four sectors

If big data analytics go mainstream then retail chains and manufacturing companies could see a huge increase of $325 billion to their annual GDP thanks to increased efficiency. Healthcare and other government services could also see a ton of productivity gains as well, as much as $285 billion in the next five years.

5. Big data analytics saw a huge increase in venture capitalist funding in the last 12 months

Venture capitalists have started to check out the possibilities with big data analytics as well. In the last year alone, they have invested about $1.37 billion into different companies. This is an increase of 217% above the last period. This is because big data is now enterprise ready, analytics tools are open to pretty much anyone and can be used very easily, and all of the analyzing can be done in real time.

Content originally published here

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Microsoft Reveals Every Version of Windows 10

Windows has not yet decided to give us an exact release date for Windows 10 except the fact that it will be some time in the summer. But, they are revealing all of the different versions of the operating system that will be available when it is done. They are calling Windows 10 Home the "consumer-focused desktop edition". This is the one that is going to come installed on most of the home PCs and laptops, and it is going to have pretty much all of the neat features, like the new Edge browser, Hello face recognition, and all of the built-in universal apps. There will also be a "Pro" edition like the versions before that will come with a bunch of business software and the ability to connect to domains and take advantage of the business updates for Windows.

With the release of Windows 10 across all the different platforms like PCs, smartphones, tablets, and the Xbox One, Microsoft is also renaming the Windows Phone. The new name is officially "Windows 10 Mobile". It is going to have touch optimized versions of Office and support for a new Continuum for Phone feature. This is going to support phones and small tablets that are less than 8 inches in size. There is also going to be a version of Windows 10 Mobile called the Enterprise edition that will be designed for big businesses to license the operating system on smartphones and small tablets.

Those are the main editions that are going to be coming out, but on top of them there will be a few others like Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 10 Education, and Windows 10 IoT Core for smaller gateway devices. In total there are 7 different editions of the operating system for a bunch of different devices. Since this is going to be the last version of Windows and they are just going to build on it from here on out, we can also expect to see huge updates and different additions some time around fall of this year. And from there on out, who knows what kind of sweet updates we will see.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

New Ways to Store Big Data on Azure from Microsoft

Azure is going to have a new data warehouse service. It's called a "data lake" service that is going to store a huge amount of data and give the option of running an "elastic" database that can store sets of data that vary in size. Scot Guthrie, Microsoft Executive Vice President of the cloud and enterprise group, unveiled these new services at the companies Build 2015 conference in San Francisco.

The Azure SQL Date Warehouse is going to be up and running later this year and is going to give companies a way to store petabytes of data. This will allow the data to be easily consumed by data analyzing software like Microsoft's Power BI tool for data visualization, the Azure Data Factory for data orchestration, or the Azure Machine Learning service.

One thing that makes this data storage service different than the rest is that it has the ability to adjust to fit the amount of data that actually needs to be stored. You can also specify exactly how much processing power you need to be able to analyze the data. The service builds on the parallel processing architecture that Microsoft developed for its SQL Server database.

This new cloud service is made for companies and organizations that need to store massive amounts of data so that it can be analyzed by different analysis platforms like Hadoop. It could also be super useful for Internet of Things systems that might create huge amounts of data. The amount of data you"ll be able to store is absolutely endless. So you can see how this would be helpful. There is literally no limit.

The company also updated the Azure SQL database service so that customers can pool their Azure database and reduce their storage cost and prepare for new activity. This means that you can  manage your storage at a lower cost.

All of this is going to be very useful for running public-facing software services where the amount of space used can fluctuate a whole lot day to day. With most services like this, you'll generally pay for your peak storage space no matter how much of it you are using at the time. This means that you can cut your costs, probably in half, and literally only pay for exactly how much you are using at any given time.

Content originally published here

Monday, May 11, 2015

Microsoft Will End Support for Windows Media Center with Release of Windows 10

Windows 10 is coming out this summer, but it will not run Windows Media Center, Microsoft's major software used for PCs. If you've already seen the early stages of Windows 10 then you would have noticed in the preview versions of the system that Media Center wasn't compatible with it. "We can confirm that due to decreased usage, Windows Media Center will not be part of Windows 10," a Microsoft spokesperson told PCWorld via email. Media Center hasn't had any significant updates in almost 6 years and in Windows 7 and Windows 8 it was nearly the same, so ending it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone.

With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has decided to drift away from the whole idea of having your computer run everything in your living room and turning it into an entertainment hub. The Idea of having your computer connected to everything in your house was pretty cool and it would certainly be convenient. The problem with it though is that it would be a huge pain in the butt to set everything up, and the possibility of something going wrong is very high. But while everything was working, it would be super cool.

The idea, though, never really caught on. It doesn't make sense for most people these days, and it is too much to worry about. With smart TVs and smartphones, you pretty much have access to any TV program or movie ever. Having a PC dedicated to the living room just isn't worth it. It isn't 1998 anymore.

There are still plans to put software in the living room from Microsoft. The plans just don't involve a computer anymore. The company offers a Miracast-powered TV dongle called the Wireless Display Adapter, which lets you project your phone's screen onto your TV. This makes more sense to me than all of the other complicated stuff and having a dedicated living room PC just for entertainment.

Another A/V type is the Xbox One that offers different TV-centric features like digital TV tuner capabilities and multiple apps like Netflix and Sling TV.  Of course a PC is much more customizable, but it's not everyone's first choice. If the new Steam Machines from Valve become more popular, they could be used for HTCP purposes on top of their PC gaming functions.

If you are running an HTCP with Windows that relies on Windows Media Center, don't bother upgrading it to Windows 10. If you have no choice but to upgrade your current HTCP, then just go with a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC. If you don't really care for losing Media Center, then you could go with the Plex Media Server or XBMX, which works with Windows and Linux, as well as Raspberry Pi.

Content originally published here