Microsoft rides APAC big data, BI waves

Region's "huge" demand for business intelligence and big data management tools to gather real-time insights give Redmond opportunity to cash in with latest SQL Server 2012, exec says.

With Asia-Pacific organizations now in the thick of managing big data and demanding better business intelligence (BI) tools to glean insight, the time is "right" for Microsoft to tap these trends with its latest SQL Server release, according to a company executive.

Jack Tang, application platform marketing director for Microsoft Asia-Pacific, said the constant exponential increase in data volumes means that managing big data is a key trend impacting organizations across the region.

Furthermore, companies in the region are putting greater focus on BI tools to mine the data to find relevant, real-time insight more easily and quickly, he said in an interview Wednesday.

"BI is huge in the Asian market, much more so than the rest of the world," said Tang, who added that Asian customers are "on the cusp" of looking for big data solutions.

He explained that due to the stronger Asian economy, companies here are able to think about "how they can get more out of data infrastructure investment", whereas their global counterparts will first have to worry about the economics of such an outlay.

The executive also noted that the growing emphasis and adoption of BI is also due to the consumerization of BI. Today, more employees in an organization, including non-IT staff, want immediate access to BI via the cloud or mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets, instead of going to the IT department and depending on them to generate reports, he said.

Beyond addressing big data and BI needs, Tang emphasized the latest features in the company's SQL Server product ultimately boils down to ensuring manageability and simplicity of use to help companies cope with various IT trends such as cloud computing, virtualization and rise of unstructured data.

This means continuing to provide customers confidence with high availability, security and disaster recovery enhancements for their mission-critical applications, he said.

Customers' transition from on-premise to cloud would also be smoother, thanks to the development tools that allow them to easily port their applications to the cloud, he added.

Thus, the "timing is right" for Microsoft to introduce its SQL Server 2012 database management system (DBMS)--which has been designed to meet these requirements, Tang pointed out. The product was announced globally on Wednesday, and will be commercially available on Apr. 1.

One new feature included in SQL Server 2012 was data quality service (DQS), which complements its existing master data service (MDS), Tang said.

DQS provides further granularity and precision to the "single version of truth" generated by the master data capability, and would appeal to companies that need their data to be specific down to the last detail, such as financial institutions, manufacturers and public sector organizations, he noted.

Microsoft will also introduce changes to its licensing model with the launch of SQL Server 2012, the executive said. Besides the Server + CAL (client access license) model, the other licensing model will be based on cores, instead of processors. Customers will not find this surprising since the fundamental unit of computing power consumption today is now cores, not processors, he said.

He added that these licensing changes relate to growing adoption of virtualization, as companies can now move their virtualized databases across different platforms.