Alibaba Cloud Releases PAI 2.0 for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the Cloud

Alibaba Cloud has announced the release of PAI 2.0, an updated version of a platform designed to facilitate the deployment of “large-scale data mining and modeling,” with a specific focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Alibaba Cloud’s PAI 2.0 represents China’s first publicly available machine learning platform that encompasses use cases for its “ET Industrial Brain” related to manufacturing, optimized device and sensor configuration, energy utilization management and analytics related to the industrial internet of things, more generally. Separately, Alibaba has announced details of an “ET Medical Brain” that specializes in use cases related to drug discovery, patient management, hospital and clinical facility management as well as the deployment of virtual medical assistants to help patients interact with clinical protocols and tests. PAI 2.0 features over 100 pre-configured machine learning algorithms that can be adapted for different use cases and scenarios.  The announcement of PAI 2.0 underscores the intersection between cloud platforms and machine learning technologies as cloud infrastructures increasingly seek to differentiate their platforms with value-driven analytic, coding and data management capabilities. PAI 2.0 allows Alibaba Cloud to claim parity with the likes of AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and IBM SoftLayer with respect to advanced machine learning functionality although the sophistication and ease of use of its algorithms and deep learning technologies remains in the process of discovery and realization by its customers.


NVIDIA Tesla GPUs Adopted by Tencent Cloud for Artificial Intelligence Computing

Tencent Cloud, the rapidly growing Chinese public cloud and gaming platform, has announced that it will adopt the NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators within its public cloud platform. Tencent’s adoption of NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators expands its artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities for its customer-base and subsequently strengthens its ability to support the growing contemporary proliferation of artificial intelligence, machine learning and neural network-based applications. Specifically, the Tencent Cloud will support the availability of NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators including the Tesla P100 and P40 GPU accelerators that feature NVIDIA’s Pascal-based architecture and NVIDIA’s NVLINK technology for connecting several GPUs with NVIDIA deep learning software. Tencent Cloud’s ability to support Tesla’s P100 and P40 GPU accelerators means that customers now have access to some of NVIDIA’s most powerful hardware for artificial intelligence and deep learning use cases that can empower data scientists to reduce the learning time required for artificially intelligent algorithms and support data intensive workloads.

In December, the Tencent Cloud launched cloud servers based on Tesla M40 GPUs. As of this week’s announcement, customers can expect the availability of cloud servers that support Tesla P100, P40 and M40 GPU accelerators to serve the artificial intelligence needs of customers that include cloud service providers, startups, research organizations and enterprises. Tencent’s announcement of its expanded support for NVIDIA GPU accelerators means that NVIDIA GPUs are now used on a roster of cloud platforms that include Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM Softlayer. Importantly, Tencent’s support for NVIDIA bolsters the latter’s positioning in the microprocessor space in the face of increased competition from AMD and its recently released line of Ryzen chips that have been instrumental to the meteoric rise of AMD’s share price. As a result, NVIDIA continues to strengthen its leadership space in the landscape of hardware dedicated to artificial intelligence by demonstrating continued success in seeding cloud platforms with its artificial intelligence and deep learning technology. NVIDIA’s collaboration with Tencent is particularly notable because it expands NVIDIA’s access to customers in China and East Asia, more generally, thereby giving it an invaluable leadership position in the rapidly growing market for artificial intelligence computing in China and the Asian Pacific Rim.

Avere Systems Raises $14M in Series E Funding for Storage Solutions for Hybrid Clouds

Avere Systems recently announced the finalization of $14M in Series E funding. The Series E funding raise features a new investor, namely, Google Inc., and existing investors Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Tenaya Capital and Western Digital Capital. Avere Systems specializes in storage products and solutions that optimize the performance of storage infrastructures for hybrid cloud environments by empowering customers to access stored files, whether they are stored in the cloud or on premise, without sacrifices to file availability or performance. In recognition of the need to manage, scale and optimize storage solutions for on-premise storage as well as cloud-based storage, Avere Systems delivers a portfolio of products and services that help ease enterprise adoption of cloud computing, with a specialization in the intersection of storage and hybrid cloud deployments. Based in Pittsburgh, PA, the company has raised a total of $97M to date.

The Series E funding raise is notable because of Google’s addition to Avere’s roster of investors as well as the continued support of Western Digital Capital, the venture capital firm associated with Western Digital. The ability of Avere Systems to garner high profile investors with deep investments in enterprise storage such as Google and Western Digital speaks to its success in gaining traction in the rapidly growing hybrid cloud space. That Avere Systems has been able to carve out a niche with respect to facilitating high performance access to data for computational and long-term storage purposes underscores the success of its strategy to serve the storage needs of organizations that leverage a plurality of on-premise and cloud-based infrastructures. The funding will be used to support product development and innovation for Avere System’s customers with a specific focus on expanding its portfolio of products for the hybrid cloud.

Jamf Announces Readiness To Deliver Zero Day Support for Spring 2017 Apple OS Releases, Including Apple TV

Apple device management leader Jamf today announced support for the latest releases of Apple iOS, macOS and tvOS. Jamf’s support for upcoming releases of iOS 10.3, macOS 10.12.4, and tvOS 10.2 continues its long-standing history of delivering zero day support for Apple technologies in relation to new releases and operating system upgrades. Jamf’s support for Apple TV empowers organizations such as hotels and schools that have massive installations of Apple TV to customize settings and landing screens to ensure consistency of user experience. Moreover, Jamf gives customers the ability to integrate deployments of Apple devices such as phones, iPads and TVs in ways that give customers enhanced control over the synchronization across devices and a corresponding seamless interconnection between them.

Jamf Pro, a solution for professional Apple administrators, extends Jamf’s support for version management to Apple device security settings, configuration management as well as the ability to create Apple classrooms and enriched device management functionality for Apple TV. Today’s announcement from Jamf consolidates its leadership in the Apple device management space and particularly underscores the maturation of its platform as exemplified by its ability to offer enhanced capabilities for Apple TV management. As Apple TV adoption proliferates, expect Jamf to continue expanding its market share in the Apple device management space via its ability to cater not only to Apple TV but also to the inter-relationship between all Apple devices, both at the level of version upgrades and customization of user experience, settings and configuration management. The graphic below encapsulates Jamf’s commitment to simplicity with respect to both device management and user experience:

jamf graphic

Pyze Expands Support for App Development Platforms for its Mobile App Business Intelligence Platform

Pyze, leader in business intelligence for mobile apps, recently announced the addition of support for popular app development platforms such as CMS (WordPressSquareSpaceWix), XamarinReact Native, Apple tvOS and watchOS. Pyze’s expansion of support for developer platforms builds upon its existing support for platforms that include “iOS, iMessage Apps, Android, Web and SaaS (React.js, Angular.js, Vue.js), and Unity” as noted in a press release. By facilitating the integration of its platform with a broader range of mobile apps, Pyze strengthens its ability to expand market share in the landscape of business intelligence for mobile app developers. Pyze aims to empower mobile app developers to increase customer engagement and revenue by means of segmentation analytics that deliver actionable insights regarding the behavior of millions of app users. Pyze’s Growth Intelligence platform was recently recognized by Tech Trailblazers as a winner in the Mobile Trailblazers category.

Google Announces Always Free Tier and $300 Credit for Google Cloud Platform to Lure New Customers

Last week, Google announced details of Always Free, a free tier of Google Cloud Platform services that allow users to obtain familiarity with the Google Cloud Platform’s suite of offerings. The free tier of services allows users to take advantage of 15 Google Cloud Platform services that include Google Compute Engine, Google App Engine, Google Cloud Datastore, Google Cloud Functions, Google Stackdriver, Google BigQuery Public Datasets and Google Container Engine. In the case of Google Compute Engine, users have access to one 1 f1-micro instance each month, with the additional constraint that they can run a maximum of 8 cores of virtual CPUs concurrently as noted below, by the Google Cloud Platform:

You can have no more than 8 cores (or Virtual CPUs) running at the same time. For example, you can launch eight n1-standard-1 machines, or two n1-standard-4 machines, but you can’t launch a n1-standard-16machine. For more information about the types of virtual machines available and the number of cores they use, see Machine type pricing.

The availability of Google Cloud Platform is limited to U.S. regions and a 30 GB-months HDD and a 5 GB-months snapshot. As part of its Always Free tier, Google also elaborated details of a $300 credit that customers can apply to the usage of Google Cloud Platform products to further augment their ability to experiment with the capabilities of GCP services. The $300 credit applies to all Google Cloud Platform products and spans a duration of 12 months.

Announced by Sam Ramji, VP of Product Development at Google Cloud at the Google Cloud Next conference on Friday March 10, the Always Free Tier and the $300 credit represent an important sales and marketing initiative designed to lure new customers intro trying the features and functionality of the Google Cloud Platform. As enterprises increasingly leverage a multi-cloud strategy characterized by the use of multiple public clouds in an effort to minimize threats posed by vendor lock-in and the effects of cloud outages, Google Cloud Platform’s Always Free tier promises to increase its market share in a field dominated by Amazon Web Services but that additionally includes Microsoft Azure, Oracle and IBM. Meanwhile, Google’s ability to onboard new customers via its Always Free tier raises the obvious question around its ability to retain those customers in collaboration with an aggressive sales and customer satisfaction team capable of eliciting and responding to the needs of its growing customer base.