Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Steve Wilson, Jason Bloomberg

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

It’s All About the Data: #MachineLearning | @CloudExpo #IoT #ML #BigData

The goal of machine learning sounds simple: provide systems with the ability to learn based on the information provided them

Big Data. Analytics. Internet of Things. Cloud. In the last few years, you cannot have a discussion around technology without those terms entering the conversation. They have been major technology disruptors impacting all aspects of the business. Change seems to occur at breakneck speeds and shows no sign of slowing. Today, it appears the one constant in technology is change. Constant change requires constant innovation which thereby introduces more new technologies. One of the new technologies entering the conversation is machine learning. Gartner identified machine learning as one of the top 10 technology trends for 2016. It is definitely a hot topic.

Everything old is new again
What I find fascinating about machine learning is that the basic tenets harken back to the '70s and '80s in the early years of artificial intelligence research. The work at that time was constrained by compute capacity and amount of data available. This is the key that has enabled machine learning to leap forward in recent years - both of those constraints no longer hold. Compute cycles and data are available at levels unimagined just decades ago.

The goal of machine learning sounds simple: provide systems with the ability to learn based on the information provided them. Simple as it sounds, this is counter to classic software engineering and has its challenges. Most software development we are familiar with ‘hard codes' the systems behavior based on planned and anticipated user and data interactions. The standard ‘if-then-else' model.

The algorithms required for artificial intelligence/machine learning are much more complex. They need to allow the system to develop its own analytical models based on inputs. Those models are constantly changing based on the information provided. Based on the data and those models, behavior is determined. As you can tell from the description, this results in very non-deterministic behavior. The system will analyze, interpret and react based on the information provided, modify that behavior as more information, and then feedback is provided. The analysis and behavior is constantly changing and being refined over time. Imagine developing the test suite for that system! (A topic for future discussion).

You are already reaping the benefits of machine learning
Do you have a Netflix account? Or Amazon? Both Netflix and Amazon provide a ‘recommended for you' list every time you log in. Both companies have very complex, proprietary algorithms analyzing the huge repository of information about you and all their member's transactions. Based on that information, they develop models of your expected behavior and present a list of recommendations to you. How you react to those recommendations is also fed back into the algorithms, constantly tweaking and adjusting your behavior model.

Or how about your smart phone? Think for a moment about the complexity of the simple statement, "Siri, what is the weather forecast for today?" First the software needs to be able to understand your voice, your accent, and your way of speech in order to be able to determine the actual words being spoken. If it's not sure, the software asks for clarification, and it learns from the clarification. Each time you use it, your phone gets better at understanding what you are saying. Once it understands the words, it has to process natural language into something meaningful to the system. This again requires complex algorithms analyzing the information, creating a model, and executing on its interpretation. As with parsing the words, if it's not sure, the software will prompt for clarification. That clarification will be fed back into the system that models your way of speaking and the context of the language you use.

It's all about the data
In a recent article on TechCrunch, ‘How startups can compete with enterprises in artificial intelligence and machine learning' John Melas-Kyriazi refers to data as the ‘fuel we feed into training machine learning models that can create powerful network effects at scale.' I find that a very apt analogy. The complex algorithms and models are the engine of machine learning, but without fuel, the engine - the data - won't work very well, if at all. A colleague of mine, John Williams, (Chief Strategy Officer at Collaborative Consulting) for years has been fond of saying, "It's all about the data." That could not be more true than in the world of machine learning.

Given the importance of the data to the success of any machine learning implementation, there are some key considerations to take into account:

  • Data Quality - In the world of data, this has always been an important consideration. Data cleansing and scrubbing is standard practice already in many organizations. It has become critical for machine learning implementations. Putting dirty fuel into even the best engine will bring it to a grinding halt.
  • Data Volume - Big Data is tailor-made for machine learning. The more information the algorithms and subsequent models have to work with, the better the results. The key word here is learning. We as individuals learn more as more information is provided to us. This concept is directly applicable in the machine learning world.
  • Data Timeliness - Besides volume, new and timely data is also a consideration. If the machine learning is based on a large volume of data that is completely outdated, the resulting models will not be very useful.
  • Data Pedigree - Where did the data come from? Is it a valid source? The pedigree is less important when using internal systems, as the source is well known, but many machine learning systems will be getting their data from public sources. Or potentially, from the many devices in the world of the Internet of Things. Crowd-sourcing data (for example Waze, a GPS mobile app) requires extra effort to ensure you trust the information being consumed. Imagine a new kind of cyber-attack - feeding your machine learning system bad data to impact the results. Remember Microsoft's problem with its AI Chatbot Tay learning to be a racist?

No technology negates the need for good design and planning
There is no doubt machine learning technology has amazing potential at impacting businesses across the spectrum, whether it will be in healthcare for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease to self-driving cars that were once in the realm of science fiction. No technology negates the need for good design and planning; machine learning is no different. As technologists, it's our responsibility to ensure the proper efforts have been made to supply machine learning implementations with the best fuel possible. Understanding the quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree needs of these systems can help us navigate this new world of machine learning, leading us to successful execution, and, ultimately, providing value back to the business.

More Stories By Ed Featherston

Ed Featherston is VP, Principal Architect at Cloud Technology Partners. He brings 35 years of technology experience in designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, and cloud technologies. He has delivered projects in various industries, including financial services, pharmacy, government and retail.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
FinTechs use the cloud to operate at the speed and scale of digital financial activity, but are often hindered by the complexity of managing security and compliance in the cloud. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sesh Murthy, co-founder and CTO of Cloud Raxak, showed how proactive and automated cloud security enables FinTechs to leverage the cloud to achieve their business goals. Through business-driven cloud security, FinTechs can speed time-to-market, diminish risk and costs, maintain continu...
"Cloud computing is certainly changing how people consume storage, how they use it, and what they use it for. It's also making people rethink how they architect their environment," stated Brad Winett, Senior Technologist for DDN Storage, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Existing Big Data solutions are mainly focused on the discovery and analysis of data. The solutions are scalable and highly available but tedious when swapping in and swapping out occurs in disarray and thrashing takes place. The resolution for thrashing through machine learning algorithms and support nomenclature is through simple techniques. Organizations that have been collecting large customer data are increasingly seeing the need to use the data for swapping in and out and thrashing occurs ...
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that’s no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, will explore how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He wi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across business networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost as well as advance trade. Are you curious about how Blockchain is built for business? In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, will discuss th...
“Why didn’t testing catch this” must become “How did this make it to testing?” Traditional quality teams are the crutch and excuse keeping organizations from making the necessary investment in people, process, and technology to accelerate test automation. Just like societies that did not build waterways because the labor to keep carrying the water was so cheap, we have created disincentives to automate. In her session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Anne Hungate, President of Daring System...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
From 2013, NTT Communications has been providing cPaaS service, SkyWay. Its customer’s expectations for leveraging WebRTC technology are not only typical real-time communication use cases such as Web conference, remote education, but also IoT use cases such as remote camera monitoring, smart-glass, and robotic. Because of this, NTT Communications has numerous IoT business use-cases that its customers are developing on top of PaaS. WebRTC will lead IoT businesses to be more innovative and address...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
For financial firms, the cloud is going to increasingly become a crucial part of dealing with customers over the next five years and beyond, particularly with the growing use and acceptance of virtual currencies. There are new data storage paradigms on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive financial data around the world without touching terrestrial networks. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Cliff Beek, President of Cloud Constellation Corporation, d...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Elastifile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS) is software-defined data infrastructure designed for seamless and efficient management of dynamic workloads across heterogeneous environments. Elastifile provides the architecture needed to optimize your hybrid cloud environment, by facilitating efficient...
While some vendors scramble to create and sell you a fancy solution for monitoring your spanking new Amazon Lambdas, hear how you can do it on the cheap using just built-in Java APIs yourself. By exploiting a little-known fact that Lambdas aren’t exactly single-threaded, you can effectively identify hot spots in your serverless code. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Dave Martin, Product owner at CA Technologies, will give a live demonstration and code walkthrough, showing how ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Golden Gate University will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 1901, non-profit Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing high quality, practice-based undergraduate and graduate educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions. Many of its courses are taug...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is ...
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., discussed how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advantage ...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...