The key to a data-driven culture: Timely insights

A data-driven culture is critical for businesses to thrive in today’s environment. In fact, a brand-new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey found that companies who embrace a data-driven culture experience a 4x improvement in revenue performance and better customer satisfaction.

Foundational to this culture is the ability to deliver timely insights to everyone in your organization across all your data. At our core, that is exactly what we aim to deliver with Azure Analytics and Power BI, and our work is paying off in value for our customers. According to a recent commissioned Forrester Consulting Total Economic Impact™ study, Azure Analytics and Power BI deliver incredible value to customers with a 271 percent ROI, while increasing satisfaction by 60 percent.

Our position in the leaders quadrant in Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant for Analytics & Power BI, coupled with our undisputed performance in analytics provides you with the foundation you need to implement a data-driven culture.

But what are three key attributes needed to establish a data-driven culture?

First, it is vital to get the best performance from your analytics solution across all your data, at the best possible price.

Second, it is critical that your data is accurate and trusted, with all the security and privacy rigor needed for today’s business environment.

Finally, a data-driven culture necessitates self-service tools that empower everyone in your organization to gain insights from your data.

Let’s take a deeper look into each one of these critical attributes.


When it comes to performance, Azure has you covered. An independent study by GigaOm found that Azure SQL Data Warehouse is up to 14x faster and costs 94% less than other cloud providers. This unmatched performance is why leading companies like Anheuser-Busch Inbev adopt Azure.

“We leveraged the elasticity of SQL Data Warehouse to scale the instance up or down, so that we only pay for the resources when they’re in use, significantly lowering our costs. This architecture performs significantly better than the legacy on-premises solutions it replaced, and it also provides a single source of truth for all of the company’s data.” – Chetan Kundavaram, Global Director, Anheuser-Busch Inbev


Azure is the most secure cloud for analytics. This is according to Donald Farmer, a well-respected thought leader in the data industry, who recently stated, “Azure SQL Data Warehouse platform offers by far the most comprehensive set of compliance and security capabilities of any cloud data warehouse provider”. Since then, we announced Dynamic Data Masking and Data Discovery and Classification to automatically help protect and obfuscate sensitive data on-the-fly to further enhance your data security and privacy.

Insights for all

Only when everyone in your organization has access to timely insights can you achieve a truly data-driven culture. Companies drive results when they break down data silos and establish a shared context of their business based on trusted data. Customers that use Azure Analytics and Power BI do exactly that. According to the same Forrester study, customers stated.

Azure Analytics has helped with a culture change at our company. We are expanding into other areas so that everyone can make informed business decisions.”  — Study interviewee

“Power BI was a huge success. We’ve added 25,000 users organically in three years.”  — Study interviewee

Only Azure Analytics and Power BI together can unlock the performance, security and insights for your entire organization. We are uniquely positioned to empower you to develop a data-driven culture needed to thrive. We are excited to see customers like Reckitt Benckiser, choose Azure for their analytics needs.

“Data is most powerful when it’s accessible and understandable. With this Azure solution, our employees can query the data however they want versus being confined to the few rigid queries our previous system required. It’s very easy for them to use Power BI Pro to integrate new data sets to deliver enormous value. When you put BI solutions in the hands of your boots on the ground—your sales force, marketing managers, product managers—it delivers a huge impact to the business.”  — Wilmer Peres, Information Services Director, Reckitt Benckise

When you add it all up, Azure Analytics and Power BI are simply unmatched.

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Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms, 11 February 2019, Cindi Howson, James Richardson, Rita Sallam, Austin Kronz

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Manage your cross cloud spend using Azure Cost Management

It’s common for enterprises to run workloads on more than one cloud provider; however, adopting a multi-cloud strategy comes with complexities like handling different cost models, varying billing cycles, and different cloud designs that can be difficult to navigate across multiple dashboards and views.

We’ve heard from many of you that you need a central cost management solution built to help you manage your spend across multiple cloud providers, prevent budget overruns, maintain control, and create accountability with your consumers.

Azure Cost Management now offers cross-cloud support. This is available in preview and can play a critical role in helping you efficiently and effectively managing your organization’s multi-cloud needs. Onboard your AWS costs via an easy-to-use cloud connector to get a single view of your expenditures, so you can analyze and budget for the future in one place.

Get started now and create your first AWS connector with the free preview to explore these capabilities and more.

For more information about managing AWS costs, see this Manage AWS costs and usage in Azure documentation.

What’s available in this preview:

Analyzing Azure and AWS spend with cost analysis

Get deep insights into your cloud spend with the rich graphic capabilities in cost analysis. Analyze your costs across 18 available dimensions like provider, service name, usage location, availability zones, meter, and tags. Cost analysis provides the flexibility to view granular charges to understand what’s driving costs and anomalies, or high-level views to analyze total and month-over-month costs for one or both of your cloud providers. Learn more about Azure Cost Management cost analysis.

An image of the Azure Cost Management cost analysis page.


Budgets and alerts across your Azure & AWS spend

Budgets and alerts in Cost Management help you plan for and drive organizational accountability by allowing you to set spend amount limits and alert thresholds. You can now set budgets and receive alerts on AWS scopes, as well. You can set budgets for various scopes like subscriptions, resource groups, or for your enterprise agreement hierarchy if you are an enterprise customer. Budget notifications are integrated with Azure Action Groups, which enables email, SMS, or you can plug into your automation scripts using available Webhook and Functions integration. Learn more about Azure Cost Management budgets.

An image of the Cost Management: Contoso Software Ltd. budgets page.


What’s coming next?

  • With Azure Cost Management, Microsoft is committed to supporting you manage your multi-cloud environment. We will continue to develop additional Cost Management features so you can benefit from a unified user experience across both Azure and AWS.
  • In the coming months we’ll be focusing on building features like the ability to save and schedule reports, additional capabilities in cost analysis, budgets, forecast, alerts, exports, and show-backs. And looking further into the future, we plan to continue enhancing our multi-cloud support for additional cloud products.
  • Follow us at @AzureCostMgmt on Twitter for more updates and information.

Governance setting for cache refreshes from Azure Analysis Services

Built on the proven analytics engine in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services delivers enterprise-grade BI semantic modeling capabilities with the scale, flexibility, and management benefits of the cloud. The success of any modern data-driven organization requires that information is available at the fingertips of every business user, not just IT professionals and data scientists, to guide their day-to-day decisions. Azure Analysis Services helps you transform complex data into actionable insights. Users in your organization can then connect to your data models using tools like Excel, Power BI, and many others to create reports and perform ad-hoc interactive analysis.

Data visualization and consumption tools over Azure Analysis Services (Azure AS) sometimes store data caches to enhance report interactivity for users. The Power BI service, for example, caches dashboard tile data and report data for initial load for Live Connect reports. However, enterprise BI deployments where semantic models are reused throughout organizations can result in a great deal of dashboards and reports sourcing data from a single Azure AS model. This can cause an excessive number of cache queries being submitted to AS and, in extreme cases, can overload the server. This is especially relevant to Azure AS (as opposed to on-premises SQL Server Analysis Services) because models are often co-located in the same region as the Power BI capacity for faster query response times, so may not even benefit much from caching.

ClientCacheRefreshPolicy governance setting

The new ClientCacheRefreshPolicy property allows IT or the AS practitioner to override this behavior at the Azure AS server level, and disable automatic cache refreshes. All Power BI Live Connect reports and dashboards will observe the setting irrespective of the dataset-level settings, or which Power BI workspace they reside on. You can set this property using SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) in the Server Properties dialog box. Please see the Analysis Services server properties page for more information on how to make use of this property.