On Friday, Microsoft sent out an email with the latest Azure enhancements/add-ons:

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Azure HDInsight now queries Azure blobs faster and includes Apache HBase as a beta feature

Microsoft Azure HDInsight, the Hadoop-based service, now delivers faster queries (up to 100 times faster) on data in the Azure Blob service. Also, Apache HBase™, a NoSQL database, is now included as a beta feature in HDInsight.

We have updated HDInsight to run on the latest Apache Hadoop 2.4 release. For this update, we have worked with Hortonworks and the open-source community to improve Hadoop query performance in Hive (0.13). As a result, you can now query the data stored in Azure blobs with Hadoop at high performance (up to 100 times faster than before). You can gain insights on data in blobs like logs, clickstreams, social media, machine telemetry, sensor data, and geo-location.

We are also announcing the addition of Apache HBase™ as a beta feature in HDInsight. Apache HBase is a low-latency, NoSQL database that allows large transactional processing of nonrelational data. This enables you to write website transactions or sensor data into blob storage. The price of creating an Apache HBase cluster in Azure is the same as for HDInsight.

Finally, we are also providing an easy-to-use web interface that gives users of HDInsight a friendly experience. You can create queries with a graphical user interface (to issue Hive queries).
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Note the emphasis on machine telemetry and sensor data. The Internet of Things (IoT) is here to stay and Microsoft has definitely shifted its focus to it. Glad to see the Redmond giant getting in on the action early…