Microsoft, AWS Team Up On Deep Learning For Cloud, Mobile

Contributor: Jason Koestenblatt
Posted: 10/13/2017
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Microsoft AWS

Two of the biggest brands in the world are coming together for the common good of the future of technology, and putting the power of progress in the hands of developers.

Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, better known as AWS, announced a collaboration this week for the new product Gluon, a deep learning library that allows developers of all skill levels to prototype, build, train and deploy sophisticated machine learning models for the cloud, devices at the edge and mobile apps, according to a joint statement.

AWS and Microsoft published Gluon’s reference specification so deep learning engines could be integrated with the interface.

“The potential of machine learning can only be realized if it is accessible to all developers,” said Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of Amazon AI. “Today’s reality is that building and training machine learning models requires a great deal of heavy lifting and specialized expertise. We created the Gluon interface so building neural networks and training models can be as easy as building an app. We look forward to our collaboration with Microsoft on continuing to evolve the Gluon interface for developers interested in making machine learning easier to use.”

Microsoft has made no secret of its headfirst dive into artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and deep learning in recent years, having devoted an entire corporate arm to creating and studying the new technologies. In a contributed piece to Enterprise Mobility Exchange from CCS Insight Vice President Nick McQuire, the analyst said, “Artificial intelligence has become central to Microsoft's overall strategy over the past 12 months. In September 2016, the company set up a dedicated research group in this area under Harry Shum. Consisting of 7,500 scientists, researchers and engineers from its product teams, the group aims to speed up the creation of artificial intelligence products and to better promote its efforts against those of Google, IBM and Amazon as well as against the growing influence of Chinese players.

But in an industry that demands agility and constant pivots, teaming up the way Microsoft and AWS have done for Gluon isn’t unnatural, rather showing two tech giants seeking out a common goal for the future of development.

“We believe it is important for the industry to work together and pool resources to build technology that benefits the broader community,” said Eric Boyd, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft AI Research in a statement. “This is why Microsoft has collaborated with AWS to create the Gluon interface and enable an open AI ecosystem where developers have freedom of choice. Machine learning has the ability to transform the way we work, interact and communicate. To make this happen we need to put the right tools in the right hands, and the Gluon interface is a step in this direction.”

While not a prophecy, McQuire’s review of the Microsoft AI event foretold a pertinent next step in the AI and deep learning space.

“Microsoft's open strategy is aligned to capture this trend, but it will also need to bring artificial intelligence out of the developer ivory tower and into the real world. To do this, it must begin to educate businesses on the specific uses that create the most business value and to help with implementing best practices. In the case of deep learning technology, Microsoft will also need to address the emerging requirement that systems must be explainable and transparent for users. These are the first steps along a long road of opportunity for the company.

As new technologies emerge, confusion abounds as what the terms mean and what exactly each accomplishes. Check out Enterprise Mobility Exchange’s guide of “7 Essential AI Terms” by clicking here. 

Jason Koestenblatt
Contributor: Jason Koestenblatt