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Could Cosmos be Microsoft's next commercial big-data service?

29/08/2014 by


Microsoft is launching more and more internal and external services on Azure. Given CEO Satya Nadella's focus on creating a "data culture," it's not too surprising that big data services are a top priority.

HDInsight, Microsoft's Hadoop on Azure service, was Microsoft's first commercially available big-data service. I'm wondering if Cosmos might be its next. 

Currently, Cosmos is an internal-facing Microsoft service. It's Microsoft's massively parallel storage and computation service that handles data from Azure, Bing, AdCenter, MSN, Skype and Windows Live. According to a recent Microsoft job posting, there are 5,000 developers and "thousands" of users inside Microsoft using Cosmos. Cosmos was built using Microsoft's Dryad distributed-processing technology.

(In 2011, Microsoft dropped plans to make Dryad commercially available in favor of going with Hadoop. But some internal Dryad work has continued.)

Cosmos provides the backbone for Bing analysis and relevance. It is used by Microsoft internally to generate custom datasets of all kinds that teams use to build and evaluate products and services. But maybe Cosmos could generate externally available datasets, too -- especially as Cosmos expands its charter so as to store and process exabytes of structured data, social network updates, geospatial/map data, and semantic data collected across the Web.

"Every day we (the Cosmos team) run thousands of computations that read and write petabytes of data," according to another Microsoft job post."For our external service, we’ve just started development, and it’s super exciting to be working on this product with very real multibillion dollar potential."

The post notes that there's a Big Data Tooling Team inside Microsoft's Cloud & Enterprise unit that is building the developer experience and tools for both Cosmos and HDInsight. That team owns the end-to-end user experience for big data. Team members "get exposure to users and the inter-workings of the massively parallel systems. Most importantly, we are producing the differentiator that will sell Microsoft’s big data products against its competitors," the job post continues.

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