Canopius, a global specialty and P&C (re)insurance business, knew its success hinged on its ability to access all its data but that its existing infrastructure was hurting, not helping, its ability to do so. It wanted to capitalize on its data for increased productivity and it wanted a cloud platform capable of handling advanced technologies with ease. In simple terms, Canopius wanted a data platform that would truly enable its success, today and well into the future.

Like so many other companies today, it faced a decision: update its hardware or invest in a modern platform.

Ultimately, Canopius bet on itself and its future. Drawn to the transformative potential of generative AI, it migrated its data to Microsoft Azure and adopted a combination of our newest, most powerful services. The result? An ability to pivot quickly to changing market conditions. An IT team that, armed with the right tools and technologies, could focus solely on innovation. And, with full access to its unique data, a true competitive advantage. Enter the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform.

Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform

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Get to know the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform

The Intelligent Data Platform is an idea that was born out of countless conversations with customers like Canopius who want, once and for all, to get their data house in order to gain a competitive edge. They know their data holds the key to their success. They want to implement AI tools. But after 15 or more years of data and cloud investments, they find their ambition is limited by the very solutions they’ve built over time. Patch after patch, their data estate has become fragmented, hard to manage, and incapable of AI era-workloads.

Even when customers know their infrastructure needs upgrading, many find it difficult to make the switch—and for good reasons. First, fixing a broken or outdated data platform and futureproofing a data platform are two distinct and sizable problems to solve. Second, I’ll be the first to admit our industry doesn’t always make it easy to choose. Azure alone offers more than 300 products, with more on the near-term horizon, and we don’t often present complete solutions because the reality is one size will never fit all. Third, customers often have favorite products and need reassurances those products will interoperate with other products. It’s natural for solutions to become more specialized and thereby more fragmented over time. And finally, migrating data accumulated over years, sometimes decades, is an exercise that can feel risky even to the most experienced IT professional. These are all valid concerns and roadblocks to progress.

With the emergence of generative AI, the original idea of the Intelligent Data Platform has morphed into what I regard now as our strongest, simplest recommendation for a cloud solution capable of solving data fragmentation problems of the past and present, and stands ready to empower uncapped innovation for even the most ambitious organizations. Generative AI changes a data strategy: data solutions created today must be designed with foresight to ensure they can easily manage spikes in data, new workloads and new technologies for many years to come.

The recommendation is this: migrate to some of the most advanced, AI-ready databases on the market today, take advantage of integrated advanced analytics and the latest AI tools, and invest in a comprehensive, end-to-end security solution.

The newest technologies and products on the market today have been built with the future in mind—future data requirements and geo-economic environments. To focus on innovation, companies need access to the richness of their data and roadblocks removed, like interoperability and security concerns. That’s table stakes. They also need faster, better access to their data and tools to empower innovation and transformation.  

This four-workload construct works no matter which cloud vendor you choose, as long as the technologies within are built for future data demands, interoperability, and security. For customers, existing and new, interested in migrating to Azure or adopting a complete intelligent data platform, we recommend the following: 

1. Databases RecommendationThe foundation of a powerful solution begins with the database. Our latest hyperscale databases are an entirely new category, designed and tuned for generative AI to provide limitless leeway to reinvent business processes and create apps not possible before. They’re also built to process data at any scale with near-zero downtime, making real-time analytics and insights possible.
Azure Cosmos DB
Azure SQL DB Hyperscale

2. Analytics RecommendationWhen paired with a hyperscale database, our newest unified analytics platform delivers tailored business intelligence in real-time. This all-new method of democratizing intelligence emboldens leadership teams to quickly make decisions that move the needle.  Microsoft Fabric
Azure Databricks

3. AI RecommendationOur newest AI technologies and tools give creators and thinkers the resources they need to ideate, conceptualize, and build an organization’s next big breakthrough, and its leaders the ability to strategize, reinvent, and streamline in new ways. Azure AI Studio
Azure Machine Learning
Azure AI Search
Azure AI Services

4. SecurityRecommendationWe’ve built security controls into every Azure product within our portfolio, and our industry-leading security solution helps protect data from every angle, for better visibility, safety, and compliance. We strongly recommend the added protection that comes with an end-to-end solution. Microsoft Purview 
Microsoft Defender for Cloud 
Microsoft Defender XDR 
Microsoft Sentinel 
Microsoft Entra 

When combined, these products transform into a futureproofed solution that makes powerful decision making, organizational performance, and limitless innovation possible. 

Data is the currency of AI

Data is the key to every organization’s success, and that has taken on a whole new level of importance in the era of AI where data acts as the currency of AI innovation. Large language models can understand the world’s knowledge at a foundational level, but they can’t understand your business.  

A few months ago, I connected with a customer—in fact, the Chief Executive Officer of a large company—who asked if he should pause the work his IT department was doing to integrate and modernize their data estate since, now, it’s all about AI. I appreciated his question, but my answer was: no, it’s exactly the opposite. So often, a new technology’s arrival is meant to replace something older. That isn’t the case here. A fully integrated, modern data estate is the bedrock of an innovation engine. A modern estate makes it possible to access all your data. And it’s your data, when applied to AI ideas and inventions, that will create magical results and transformational experiences.

For Epiroc, the Swedish manufacturer that supplies mining and construction industries with advanced equipment, tools, and services, steel is essential to the success of their business. The company wanted to consistently deliver a product of high quality and improve efficiencies but, in a world where there are more than 3,500 grades of steel, it needed to create company-wide best practices for data sharing and a repeatable process to get the output it wanted. Microsoft partnered with Epiroc to create an enterprise-scale machine learning AI factory as part of a broader, modern Intelligent Data Platform. Since it had already taken the step to modernize its data estate on Azure, establishing an enterprise-scale AI factory was quick and easy. And the result? A consistent, quality product, increased organizational efficiencies, and reduced waste.

Unmatched choice with our partner ecosystem

I recently spoke with another customer who successfully migrated to Azure and seamlessly integrated Databricks into their new data platform. And a different partner, already on Azure but wanting to invest in AI, integrated Azure AI products and Adobe with already impressive results. 

Every organization deserves choice. We don’t talk about it as often as we should, but those using and managing a data platform need to trust that it will serve their needs today and in the future. We recognize this and want to empower every organization’s success, no matter their legacy preferences, and our partner ecosystem offers incredible capabilities we are eager for our customers to take advantage of. For this reason, we’ve invested in this growing ecosystem of trusted partners whose products fully integrate with ours, and we’ll continue doing so. As a former partner myself, I firmly believe flexibility to choose the best solution for the job should always be a required feature of a powerful platform.  

All clouds welcome

Data circumstances or preferences shouldn’t be a barrier, either. There are incredible benefits to adopting an all-cloud environment as part of a modern data strategy. But we recognize customers may want or need to choose an environment that includes multiple clouds or a mix of cloud and on-premises. The Intelligent Data Platform and all the products within it are successful in any adaptive cloud scenario.

Unleash your data for bold transformation

A key part of the Intelligent Data Platform, Azure AI, makes building data-informed ideas and experiences easy. Last year, we introduced Azure AI Studio, a one-stop-shop for generative AI creation offering model selection, data, security features, and DevOps in one interface. We directly connected Fabric to Azure AI Studio which, for customers, means they can start building AI apps without requiring manual data duplication or additional integration. We also built and tuned Azure Cosmos DB and Azure SQL DB Hyperscale for generative AI innovation. With hyperscale performance, built-in AI including vector search and copilots, and multi-layered AI-powered security embedded into the database, these databases unify, power, and protect the platform.  

For over a year, generative AI has captured imaginations and attention. In this time, we’ve learned that AI’s potential comes to life at the intersection of an organization’s data and ideas. The world’s been generating and storing incredible amounts of data for so long, waiting for the day technology would catch up and simplify the process of using the data in bold, meaningful ways.  

That day has arrived. The Intelligent Data Platform is the ideal data and AI foundation for every organization’s success, today and tomorrow.  

Learn more about connecting your data

Learn more about the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform.

Follow news and perspectives about data, AI, analytics, and security at Microsoft Fabric Community Conference this week.

1Microsoft Customer Story-Canopius enables data & AI innovation by building a strong foundation with Azure.

2Microsoft Customer Story-Epiroc advances manufacturing innovation with Azure Machine Learning and Azure Data Factory.

3According to the World Steel Association, there are over 3,500 different grades of steel. About steel – worldsteel.org.

The post The Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform—Unleash your data and accelerate your transformation appeared first on Microsoft Azure Blog.

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