One of Azure's selling points is the Windows Azure Marketplace, which Microsoft sees through some pretty grand spectacles (pdf).
Several practical case studies are available, but the general direction seems to be something like where both cloud and Big Data technologies are heading: universal data interaction, not just technical interoperability.
To that ambitious end, Microsoft today announced two new datasets on Azure Marketplace: historical weather data and stock sentiment.
- Worldwide Historical Weather Data: Provides weather information including historical daily maximum temperature, minimum temperature, precipitation, dewpoint, sea level pressure, windspeed, and wind gust for thousands of locations around the world. Data is available on-line from 2000 through the current week and historical data is added every week for the previous week for all global locations.
- The Stock Sonar: The Stock Sonar Sentiment Service provides sentiment scores for public companies trades on the US stock market. The Stock Sonar retrieves, reads and analyzes information from a wide variety of online sources including articles, blogs, press releases and other publicly available information based on an in-depth understanding of a text's meaning.
The Stock Sonar Sentiment Service smacks somewhat of Azure's Social Analytics, and suggests an intriguing and beautifully circular notion, considering the stock market itself as a sentiment-indicator: predict people's money by looking at their mouths. I don't know quite where this will lead..but now that developers can access the data as a service, maybe someone will figure it out (better than past attempts).
Meanwhile, the historical weather data should be quite useful to climate change researchers, for instance -- a topic of abiding but also specially current interest.
Both new services are notable contributions to a growing interface-unified data pool.