“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 4/17/2017

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Above the Trend Line: machine learning industry rumor central, is a recurring feature of insideBIGDATA. In this column, we present a variety of short time-critical news items such as people movements, funding news, financial results, industry alignments, rumors and general scuttlebutt floating around the big data, data science and machine learning industries including behind-the-scenes anecdotes and curious buzz. Our intent is to provide our readers a one-stop source of late-breaking news to help keep you abreast of this fast-paced ecosystem. We’re working hard on your behalf with our extensive vendor network to give you all the latest happenings. Heard of something yourself? Tell us! Just e-mail me at: daniel@insidebigdata.com.  Be sure to Tweet Above the Trend Line articles using the hashtag: #abovethetrendline.

The big data vendor ecosystem was alive and well this past week, and we managed to dig up a batch of industry scuttlebutt including some company performance news … Numetric, the third-generation Business Intelligence (BI) provider, announced the company has grown by a factor of six in the past year alone, while its customer base continues to grow strongly. The company’s compelling vision—providing lightning fast and easy-to-use-business intelligence tools—is gaining traction. In the retail, transportation, and education industries, the young company’s recent investment in sales and marketing is bringing impressive results. Numetric’s rapid growth follows its announcement in late December that the company received $3.75 million in funding led by EPIC Ventures, and that it had appointed Greg Butterfield (Symantec, Omniture, Vivint Solar) as Chairman of the company’s board. The recent funding and addition of Butterfield have enabled a Numetric hiring spree, including members of its executive management team. Numetric will be focused on sales and marketing efforts for the first time in company history.

Compelling customer wins was the theme last week with a number of high-profile announcements … Avere Systems, a leading provider of hybrid cloud enablement solutions, announced that the University of Warsaw’s leading scientific computing center selected Avere’s FXT Edge filers to enable seamless access to private object storage. The University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling (ICM) uses Avere and  Western Digital (NASDAQ WDC) Active Archive System to deliver petabyte-scale storage for its big data research center project, OCEAN. The combined solution provides seven petabytes of usable archive capacity, ensuring reliable access to aging data and long-term availability for future research activities. University of Warsaw ICM’s OCEAN project, located in a dedicated big data research center, offers a high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure for data collection, storage, curation and advanced analysis. When faced with the large project of building the entire facility and supercomputing infrastructure from the ground up in a short timeline, the university turned to Avere and Western Digital to help install the big data analytics archive. The archive provides multi-petabyte capacity for interdisciplinary teams representing more than 200 scientists and developers tackling compute and data-heavy research in bioinformatics, climate modeling, machine learning, among many other fields … MapR Technologies, Inc., the provider of the Converged Data Platform that converges the essential data management and application processing technologies on a single, horizontally scalable platform, announced that C&J Energy Services has successfully implemented the MapR Converged Data Platform running on Microsoft Azure to support its legacy financial systems’ decommissioning. Working closely with Sullexis, a leading systems integrator with expertise in the oil and gas industry, C&J has archived data from seven legacy ERPs and enabled business reporting against the historical data to support compliance, regulatory, and business needs. Using MapR for this initiative proved to be significantly cheaper and faster than traditional methods of maintaining these systems or archiving to a data warehouse. Key criteria for selecting the MapR Converged Data Platform hosted on Microsoft Azure included the ability to operate at scale, safeguard data, and provide consistent uptime. C&J also uses Apache Drill to quickly and easily tap into the historical ERP data and make it accessible for analysis via familiar BI tools, like Microsoft SSRS and SAP Lumira … Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLK), provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, announced Yelp Inc. has adopted Splunk® Enterprise to help improve Yelp’s customer experience and uncover new revenue opportunities across its business. Splunk champions at Yelp are democratizing data across the organization, making it easily accessible to teams outside of IT. Hundreds of Yelp employees rely on Splunk Enterprise for use cases including application management and delivery, IT operations troubleshooting and monitoring, as well as business analytics … VoltDB, the enterprise-class database that powers business-critical applications, announced it has been selected by Nokia to power two enterprise applications in its packet core business. VoltDB will be embedded into the Nokia Cloud Mobility Manager (CMM) and the Cloud Mobile Gateway (CMG) offerings, which are key to the company’s global telecoms infrastructure. VoltDB’s ability to reliably handle hundreds of thousands of write transactions per second — without compromising accuracy or performance — was a factor in its selection, as was its ability to do so without DBA support while running on a cluster of generic servers without access to a SAN. Nokia CMM can be deployed in standard network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructure environments or on pre-integrated and modular server-based solutions, sharing a common network management system with Nokia packet core functions and enabling Nokia customers to seamlessly transition to NFV and software-defined networking (SDN). VoltDB also will be embedded in the Nokia Cloud Mobile Gateway (CMG) application, which performs gateway functions within the packet core. CMG will help mobile operators provision for the growth of mobile broadband, deliver new Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Type Communications (MTC) services, and provide a foundation for 5G.

In the people movement category we learned that Cazena, the fully managed Big Data Platform as a Service, announced the appointment of Sam Berg as Vice President of Sales. Berg joins Cazena as it makes its cloud platform “generally available”  after three years of development and testing. Sam brings over 25 years of technology sales and field operations experience to Cazena. Prior to Cazena, Berg spent four years at SnapLogic, the innovative data and application Integration Platform as a Service. At SnapLogic, Berg drove significant sales and adoption, and established the company as a leader in the Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service market. Berg also held senior management positions at VoltDB and Nexaweb Technologies, and senior sales roles at Ascential Software and SAP.

In new funding news, we heard that Los Angeles-based Neural Analytics, a startup which is developing medical devices used to measure, diagnose, and track brain health, has raised $10M in a funding round. The funding was led by Reimagined Ventures. As part of the funding, the company said that Ted Koutouzis of Reimagined Ventures joins the company’s board. The company has now raised $27M in total. Neural Analytics said the funds will go towards expanded commercialization and ongoing research. Neural Analytics’ technology specifically is focused on detecting traumatic brain injury (TBI) and injuries from concussions … Qualtrics, a leader in experience management software, announced it has closed a $180 million funding round at a $2.5 billion valuation. In addition, the company announced the appointment of Murray Demo, CFO of Atlassian, to its board of directors and as chair of its audit committee. The announcement comes just weeks after Qualtrics launched its groundbreaking new product, the Qualtrics XM Platform, a first-of-its-kind product that will revolutionize the experience management (XM) industry that Qualtrics established. The $180 million round was led by Insight Venture Partners and Accel, with participation from Sequoia Capital. This funding round increases Qualtrics’ valuation 2.5 times over its previous valuation in late 2014. This investment also makes Qualtrics the single largest aggregate investment in the history of the Accel’s portfolio … Agent IQ, an AI-assisted customer engagement and workflow management platform, has received funding from an all-star line up of eight investors, including: CRCM Venture Capital, GrowthX Capital, Hunt Technology Ventures, and Rubicon Venture Partners. Agent IQ is the only customer communication platform that enables scalable 1:1 customer-to-brand conversations on the channels customers already know and love. Powered by self-generating artificial intelligence, Agent IQ’s machine learning algorithms continuously learn from ongoing live conversations between customers and agents. After the service agents use Agent IQ for only a few days, the AI engine will retain the ability to answer similar questions in the future in the brand’s own voice. Additionally, because the AI bot is learning from humans, it can even understand conversations in multiple languages, emoji usage, and more. The technology allows for enterprise organizations to speak directly with a massive amount of customers without having to sacrifice the quality of the interactions.

We learned of a number of new partnerships, alignments and collaborations starting with … Sinequa, a leader in cognitive search and analytics, announced a partnership with Thomson Reuters (NYSE, TSX: TRI) to integrate Thomson Reuters’ Intelligent Tagging (TRIT) with Sinequa’s Cognitive Search & Analytics platform. Using natural language processing and machine learning, the joint solution provides financial services and other data driven verticals with better insights and contextual information from data across the enterprise. Sinequa has integrated TRIT into its Cognitive Search & Analytics platform, creating a more powerful search solution that enables global organizations to recognize specific financial terms and abbreviations (e.g. ticker symbols) as well as other entities and relationships in vast amounts of structured and unstructured data. By empowering users to find more rapidly the relevant information they need, the TRIT/Sinequa solution delivers greater productivity and improved performance … Alteryx, Inc., a leader in self-service data analytics, announced it is collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to virtualize the Alteryx Server platform and offer its robust data prep, blending and analytics solution in the cloud. Organizations can now quickly deploy Alteryx Server through AWS Marketplace as an on-demand, pay-as-you-go option. This collaboration builds on the existing integration of Alteryx with Amazon Redshift, and support for Amazon Aurora and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), empowering analysts to quickly consume big data and deliver key business insights … TIBCO Software Inc., a global leader in integration, API management, and analytics, announced a global partnership with the 2016 FIA Formula One World Champions, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. As an Official Team Partner, TIBCO will provide the team with expertise in the area of advanced analytics through the TIBCO® Insight Platform, while the distinctive TIBCO logo will be featured on the helmets of the team’s drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

And on the data security front, we received a commentary about Michigan State University’s recent research report which found nearly 1,800 occurrences of large data breaches in healthcare patient information since 2009?

The recent Michigan State University study demonstrates that, as the healthcare industry continues to digitize, data protection technology has not been able to keep up,” said John Suit, CTO at Trivalent. “The result is an extreme risk for patients who put their trust in healthcare organizations to address their medical concerns, but also protect their sensitive and personal information. To address this, hospitals, pharmacies, assisted living facilities, insurance providers, research institutions, etc. must strengthen their security strategy and adopt a defense-in-depth approach with multiple layers of protection. In order to get ahead of increasingly advanced threats, the industry must understand that traditional encryption is no longer enough. They must turn to next generation solutions to protect data at the file level with encryption, shredding and secure storage, which renders personal patient data useless to unauthorized parties.”


And lastly, there’s much debate on new information about how the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announcement regarding H-1B visas for computer programmers can significantly impact the Silicon Valley. NodeSource, a San Francisco based technology company, like many others, relies heavily on international talent to run a successful business and provided this commentary:

This new constraint will have a severe impact on innovation and the continued maintenance and support of many Silicon Valley tech companies,” said Joe McCann, CEO of NodeSource, a technology company that relies heavily on IT talent from all over the world. “These changes will ultimately impact the bottom line of some of the world’s largest companies, thus creating a downward economic spiral for technology, for Silicon Valley and for the entire United States. Every company is a technology company today and with the current technology skills gap, we’re facing in America, this proves even more challenging. We at NodeSource would hire even more Americans if we could, yet, we, like every other company, simply can’t find qualified candidates here at home.”

We asked McCann to comment on the other side’s claim that many tech companies are willfully not hiring Americans because they’re more expensive than offshore employees; lower salaries, no benefits, etc. Also, “60 Minutes” recently did a feature about UCSF Medical Center replacing their IT staff with offshore Indian workers, where the existing staff were forced to train their replacements. In addition, many American tech employees on record saying they have the required skill-sets and seeking work but can’t land a job due to offshore competition.

I would not dispute this has happened and/or happens, but, empirically, the data suggests these events are outliers and not part of the larger distribution of issues around demand for talent. There are over tens of thousands of software development jobs available today (see Indeed.com).  “IT Staff” covers a broad spectrum of technology and many of those jobs will be outsourced as they are lower skilled jobs  which is certainly not unique to tech (see call centers for customer service).  The mid-to-high-leveled skilled jobs, (e.g. web developer) are the ones many companies cannot seem to staff with U.S-only talent.  If this were the case, salaries and total compensation for developers would have flattened out a while ago. Basic economic theory, supply and demand, also supports the idea that there is a large void in the market for skilled technologists.  According to Glassdoor, 10 out of the top 20 highest paying jobs in America are all tech-related.  If the demand for tech talent actually met its supply, it’s highly unlikely this would be the case. “


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