Microsoft Releases HDInsight for Windows Azure

Hortwonworks Data Platform 2.0 for Windows will be available next month.

HDInsight -- Microsoft's cloud-based big data service -- is officially available on Windows Azure. The announcement was made today by Quentin Clark, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of the Data Platform Group.

"The impact of this is beyond just making businesses smarter and more efficient. It's about changing how business works through both people and data-driven insights," Clark wrote. "Data will drive the kinds of changes that, for example, allow personalization to become truly prevalent. People will drive change by gaining insights into what impacts their business, enabling them to change the kinds of partnerships and products they offer."

HDInsight processes very large volumes of structured and unstructured data using SQL Server and the Hortonworks distribution of the Apache Hadoop file system (HDFS). HDInsight had a lengthy private test period before its beta release last March.

HDInsight evolved from a deal with Hortonworks, which manages Hadoop. Hortonworks is developing HDP (Hortwonworks Data Platform) 2.0 for Windows, and Clark said it will be generally available next month. He added that "working with Hortonworks, we will support Hadoop v2 in a future update to HDInsight."

Big Data expert Andrew Brust, CEO of Blue Badge Insights and a Visual Studio Magazine columnist, said in a session at the Visual Studio Live! Chicago conference in May that users can perform queries against HDInsight with their preferred business intelligence tools, including Microsoft Excel using an ODBC driver for Hive, the Apache-based code that takes SQL Queries to generate MapReduce code. He mentioned at that time (during which it was in beta) that HDInsight had some rough edges. "Hadoop is not yet ready for the enterprise, the tooling has a long way to go," Brust was quoted as saying. "Believe it or not, the tooling that Microsoft gives you is superior to tools that other Hadoop vendors give you." 

HDInsight deployments consist of a Head node, Security Gateway Node and one more Compute Nodes. Head and Compute Nodes are billed on an hourly basis, according to the Windows Azure HDInsight page, while the Security Node is free. Microsoft is offering "promotional preview pricing" until Nov. 30, starting at .32 per hour, or about $238 per month for the Head Node and $0.16 per hour, or about $119 per month, for each Compute Node. After the promotional period, prices for each double.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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