I found this blog post off the Microsoft Research site. Sounds very interesting and I look forward to following the efforts of using cloud services to process and provide insights using Excel. As we ALL know, the world of business runs on Excel so the more we can leverage it, the better.
On June 15, Microsoft’s Washington (D.C.) Innovation and Policy Center will host thought leaders, policymakers, analysts, and press for Microsoft Research’s D.C. TechFair 2011. The event showcases projects from Microsoft Research facilities around the world and provides a strategic forum for researchers to discuss with a broader community their work in advancing the state of the art in computing. Microsoft researchers and attendees alike will have an opportunity to exchange ideas on how technology and the policies concerning those technologies can improve our future.
“Excel is a leading tool for data analysis today,” Barga explains. “With 500,000,000 licensed users, there are incredible numbers of people already comfortable with Excel. In fact, the spreadsheet itself is a fine metaphor for manipulating data. It’s friendly, and it allows different data types, so it’s a good technology ramp to the cloud for data analysts.”
The project enables the use of Excel on the cloud through an add-in that displays as a research ribbon in the spreadsheet’s toolbar. The ribbon provides seamless access to computing and storage on Windows Azure, where users can share data with collaborators around the world, discover and download related data sets, or sample from extremely large—terabyte-sized—data sets in the cloud. The Excel research ribbon also provides new data-analytics and machine-learning algorithms that execute transparently on Windows Azure, leveraging dozens or even hundreds of CPU cores.