Microsoft has taken a major step in preparing Power BI, the software maker's cloud-based business intelligence and data analytics product, for the Internet of Things.
Power BI's real-time streaming datasets feature is now generally available, along with the ability to output data from Azure Stream Analytics to Power BI streaming datasets, announced Microsoft Power BI program manager Sirui Sun. Azure Stream Analytics is Microsoft's event data processing service that enables real-time analytics on data collected from IoT devices, sensors and applications.
Power BI's new streaming datasets feature "allows users to easily stream data to Power BI via the REST API, Azure Stream Analytics or PubNub, and to see that data instantly light on their dashboards," explained Sun in his Jan. 31 announcement. PubNub is a San Francisco-based provider of IoT data connectivity, streaming and management services.
Meanwhile, Azure Stream Analytics' newfound ability to supply information to Power BI's real-time streaming datasets "allows users to build streaming tiles on top of datasets pushed to Power BI by Azure Stream Analytics, while still supporting all existing functionality (e.g. using the dataset to build reports)," continued Sun. The tiles can be used to display popular metrics on-demand, including the latest value pertaining to a given metric or values over a given amount of time, he said.
Early customers include IntelliScape.io, makers of Curb Utilization Analytics. The service uses Power BI and PubNub to analyze video from street cameras to provide real-time insights into traffic patterns.
TransAlta, a Canadian renewable energy producer, is using Azure Stream Analytics and Power BI to monitor the equipment in its power plants and deliver pertinent information to field technicians and engineers.
Microsoft isn't the only tech titan working to provide enterprises with IoT analytics solutions, a rapidly growing market.
In an August 2016 report, management consulting firm Bain and Company predicted that the world's IoT vendors will generate annual revenues exceeding $450 billion by 2020. Analytics, networking and cloud vendors were among the most influential in helping corporate technology buyers evaluate their IoT options, the report discovered.
So it's not surprising that leading IT vendors are jockeying for position in the increasingly competitive market for IoT solutions.
Last June, IBM and Cisco announced a collaboration that would enable IoT analytics at the network edge. Using a combination of IBM's business process management (BPM) and cognitive computing systems, along with network infrastructure and analytics technologies from Cisco, the companies are enabling manufacturers, oil producers, shipping firms and other businesses that operate in remote locations to glean efficiency-boosting insights from their equipment.
Also delivering IoT analytics capabilities at the edge is Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) with its Edgeline converged systems portfolio. Unveiled in June at the Discover 2016 conference in Las Vegas, the Edgeline EL1000 and EL4000 are compact, ruggedized systems that are built for the rigors of industrial facilities and feature integrated data capture, security and remote systems management capabilities.