Google brings BigQuery down to earth with Excel connector

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Google’s BigQuery tool for analyzing huge data sets is already a big hit, but it just got a lot more useful thanks to two new features that actually rein in its edginess. On Wednesday, Google unveiled a batch-processing feature in BigQuery that lets users schedule less-time-sensitive batch queries, as well as a tool for connecting BigQuery to Microsoft Excel.

BigQuery, which became generally available in May, is a cloud service that lets users run SQL queries against terabyte-scale datasets and get answers in just seconds. However, as BigQuery Product Manager Ju-kay Kwek wrote in announcing the new features, “[W]e understand that there are important, non-interactive queries, such as nightly reports, that businesses also need to run. Now, you can designate a query as a batch query and it will complete within a few hours.”

The slowed-down queries also come with a lower price — 2 cents per gigabyte versus 3.5 cents per gigabyte on interactive queries.

And where batch queries address the need for more-traditional use cases, adding the Excel connector addresses the need to bring in more-traditional users. Excel is still many analysts’ preferred method of working with data, and products that understand this — whether it’s a Hadoop cluster or a machine-learning service — seem destined to attract more users than those that force analysts into using an entirely new tool.

These new features are also evidence of the new (and arguably improved) Google Enterprise division. Cloud services, super-fast answers and web scale are great for showing off what Google is capable of and pointing toward the future, but making money off a product might mean having to bring it back down to earth to address the needs that most potential users actually have today.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user olly.

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