Microsoft is pushing its analytics credentials by detailing how its platforms can be used together to produce output in a way that chief information officers and others can act on, specifically using Power BI to visualise results from the Azure Machine Learning service, now part of the broader Cortana Intelligence Suite.
The company said that there has been a lot of interest among customers in using Power BI to visualise the output of an Azure Machine Learning model, and the firm recently published a tutorial showing exactly how this can be accomplished, providing useful pointers for Microsoft customers looking to make the best use of such tools to analyse data.
"Imagine if you could have Power BI regularly bring in the latest output of your fraud model or the sentiment for recent tweets about your products," said Justyna Lucznik, programme manager for Microsoft's Power BI team.
Microsoft's tutorial naturally assumes that customers are already using multiple Microsoft platforms, such as a cloud-hosted Azure SQL database instance as the source of their data and subscriptions to the PowerBi and Azure ML services, and also use the R language, one of Microsoft's favoured tools for statistical computing, to script all the actions together.
The tutorial walks customers through the process of using an R script to extract data from Azure SQL, then calling the Azure ML web service to score the data and write the output back to the SQL database.
An R script is then used to read the scored data from SQL into Power BI, publish the Power BI file to the Power BI service, and then schedule a refresh of the data to ensure that results for the latest data are being displayed.
"The Power BI Gateway allows the Power BI Service to connect to on-premise sources like your SQL Server or in this particular case an R script. Depending on your refresh schedule, Power BI will trigger a re-run of your R script (locally) and bring in the most up-to-date data," wrote Lucznik on the Power BI blog.
Power BI is Microsoft's cloud-based business analytics service, and is intended to make analytics easier for non-technical business users. The service started as a part of the Office 365 online productivity suite, but Microsoft made it available separately in 2015.
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