Last Friday, Microsoft acquired Metanautix, a big data analytics startup whose Quest data compute engine helps power the marketing operations of companies like Shutterfly by integrating databases and other systems, such as Salesforce, together in order to paint a complete picture with data.
The product's primary use case is to make it easier and more efficient for companies to analyze their whole silo collection, so that data doesn't need to be moved into a centralized system first. In what it calls the "data supply chain," Metanautix automatically brings together structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data and manipulates it to be analyzed. According to Microsoft, one of the key competitive advantages of Metanautix is the way it takes disparate, but now integrated, data sources and makes the data query-able via SQL.
Microsoft is planning to integrate Metanautix's technology into its existing SQL Server, Azure, and Cortana Analytics products, in order to build a cloud platform that can effectively act as an "intelligent" data warehouse that connects teams and organizations.
For more information, you can read Microsoft's blog post on the matter, as well as Metanautix's site (though as the latter is getting folded into existing Microsoft products, you'll find their website is... lacking).