The Data-Mining Excel Plugin from SQL Server is one of the most powerful tools available to Data Analysts and Power-Users, by leveraging SQL Server’s SSAS (Analysis Service), the Data-Mining Plugin is able to make cutting edge Data-Mining Algorithms very accessible and easy to use, and with extended features such as creating, customizing and training your own custom Data-Mining model, Microsoft’s Self-Service BI (Business Intelligence) offering is truly comprehensive.
The Data-Mining Excel Plugin is part of SQL Server 2008 tool-set, this plugin allows Power-Users to perform complex Data-Mining tasks, such as Data Forecasting,Data-Set Clustering or What-If Analysis. Under the hood, the Data-Mining Excel Plugin communicates with an SSAS cube, creating on-the-fly models (which are able to persist in certain cases) that gets used along with one of Microsoft’s Data-Mining algorithms, to deliver the data-mining analysis.
The tool becomes really powerful when building and training your own models, which is actually much simpler than it sounds, the trained model could then be used and shared across the business, or even taken by IT and formalized into a proper Data-Mining model.
Little is being said about any subsequent releases of the Data-Mining Excel Plugin, Microsoft has certainly been keeping quiet with regarding an update with SQL Server 2012, with many posts indicating there is no current plans for any development on the EXCEL plug-in.
One problem with the Data-Mining plugin is the fact that you can not run it on the same machine alongside the PowerPivot plugin, unless you are running a 32-bit Excel installation, which means you are not truly benefiting from PowerPivot’s efficient memory management (using the Vertipaq compression engine). Any fix to allow this integration to go smoother will go along way in establishing the full circle of Self-Service BI.
UPDATE – 20120308: Microsoft has announced the release of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Data Mining Add-in for Office, which brings Data-Mining capabilities to both EXCEL and VISIO, as well as allowing both PowerView and the Data-Mining plug-ins to run side by side in EXCEL. A great accomplishment in terms of full holistic integration of core components within the Microsoft Self-Service BI framework.