I recently came across a trade-press article with the headline “Mining the Cloud.” The cynic in me immediately issued a silent scoff: How is that different from “crawling the Web”? Are we just mapping old wine to shinier new bottles? Or is there something different here?

But, seeing as how I too like to proliferate discussions of mining this or that information type, I was willing to cut the reporter some slack. The article was from Redmond Developer, and concerns “Project Dallas” under Microsoft’s Azure cloud initiative. Essentially, “Project Dallas” (still in beta) supports discovery, manipulation, visualization, and analysis of data retrieved from multiple public, commercial, and private data sources via the Azure cloud. “Dallas” allows enterprises to provide users (via REST, Excel PowerPivot, and/or Visual Basic applications) with online access to aggregated feeds via Azure, which essentially operates as an online information marketplace. Also, “Dallas” allows customers to have Azure host their data for them, or simply continue to host it on their own premises while the cloud service connects securely to it.

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