Microsoft News: R support, new Power BI for analytics and reporting, animation and 3D graphics in the cloud

    Over the past few days, three fairly large and serious events have occurred in the Microsoft ecosystem at once, not related to each other, but, one way or another, related to services in the cloud and, interestingly, to science and research . In order not to write three news, we decided to combine them into one. More details - under the cut.

    1. Open - source package for 3 D animation Blender has become available for use with our support in Microsoft Azure Batch - a service for performing series of calculations in the cloud.
    2. Microsoft reached an agreement to acquire Revolution Analytics , a leading developer of software and services for R. As you know, R is one of the most used languages ​​for predictive analytics and statistical analysis. An agreement with a reputable company with great expertise in this area means new functionality and opportunities for developers.
    3. The announcement of Power BI Preview , a cloud-based business intelligence service for non-technical business users.

    Blender Open Source 3D Animation Package Available in Azure Batch

    In October, we announced a publicly available preview of the Azure Batch service. You can read more at SychevIgor in the corresponding post . In short - the service provides the ability to easily organize settlements in the cloud. You download the application, everything in the cloud automatically unfolds, the result is calculated and returned.

    Yesterday, a set of examples of using Blender in Azure Batch was announced. Blender is a free Open Source package for 3D animation, which supports modeling, animation, simulation, game creation, etc. This package is used both by a simple developer and small studios - the process requires equipment. The cloud here has an obvious use - they calculated and turned off the equipment. In the case of Azure Batch, you don’t need to turn anything off - just start it, get the result and do not use it until the next need.

    Two components will be released on GitHub that implement the upload of rendering tasks to Azure Batch. The first component is a server component using the .NET SDK and sharing the animation task into a bundle of subtasks, each of which runs on its own virtual machine. The second component is client-side, written in Python, and designed to manage tasks from Blender.

    C # Blender code can be found here . It needs to be deployed to Azure Batch from the management portal. If you don’t have a Batch account yet, you can create one using the instructions . After that, click on “Manage Batch Apps” to configure Blender.

    Create a new application and download the downloaded assemblies.

    That's it, Blender is set up.

    Blender Client Plugin

    Client plugin can be downloaded  here .  You can install it from User Preferences inside Blender by selecting the Install from file option. Authentication data must be taken from the portal from the Batch account.

    The client plugin is ready to go.

    More details:

    Blender Add-On Documentation
    Batch Apps Python Library & Documentation
    Batch Apps Library for .Net
    Azure Batch Forum
    Azure Batch
    Big Compute & HPC Blog
    Scott Guthrie's blog post on Azure Batch

    Examples are on GitHub under the MIT license. Questions can be asked to the development team at

    Microsoft Reaches Acquisition of Revolution Analytics

    Second news - Microsoft reached an agreement to acquire Revolution Analytics . Revolution Analytics is a leader in the commercial development of software and services for R. The acquisition of this company means new functionality and opportunities for customers to use R to analyze and obtain interesting insights from the data. Due to the constant increase in the amount of data, companies interacting with them need high-performance resources located "close" to the data. At the same time, the use of these resources must be effective.

    Revolution Analytics provides an enterprise-class platform for developing and deploying R-based analytics solutions that can be scaled across data warehouses and Hadoop, as well as integrated with internal systems. Revolution Analytics is also an important part of the R community with more than 2 million users worldwide and regular contributions to Open Source projects on R - ParallelR and RHadoop. R

    visualization tied to national team processes at the World Cup . Source: Guy Abel
    The value of acquiring this company cannot be overestimated - it is helping customers to use advanced data analytics tools. Microsoft will continue to support the community and projects, both Open Source and commercial on various operating systems.

    Read more from David Smith, chief community officer at Revolution Analytics,  here .

    Power BI Preview Announcement

    The new Power BI  is a service that can dramatically impact the BI industry. Power BI helps you adapt your data interaction with simple utilities and technologies that lower your entry barrier.

    Power BI is a cloud-based analytics service for non-technical business representatives. It can be used from a browser or in a mobile application that provides convenient management portals for studying data, building visual reports and integrating with existing data sources.

    Starting yesterday, Power BI is available in previews, and accessing is quite simple:

    • Register - all you need is an e-mail
    • Подключить источники данных с помощью встроенных коннекторов и адаптеров — GitHub, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, SendGrid, Zendesk и других, которые только готовятся к выходу в свет — Inkling Markets, Intuit, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Sage, Sumo Logic, Visual Studio Application Insights, Visual Studio Online.  Power BI по своей природе сервис гибридный, поэтому можно использовать локальные данные.
    • Начать использовать Power BI Designer – инструмент для бизнес-аналитиков, позволяющий подключаться, моделировать и анализировать данные.
    • Если же у вас iPad – мы выпустили Power BI for iPad, доступный в Apple App Store. Позже мы выпустим версии для iPhone, Android и Windows Universal App.

    Internationally, Power BI is not yet available, only for American e-mail. In the future, Power BI will be available to everyone, with a free version and Power BI Pro on a monthly basis. Read more about payment and service  here .


    Microsoft continues to produce not only services that are useful for commercial users, but also those that will be very useful for researchers, users from academic institutions, students, etc. This is a very good trend!

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