“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 6/5/2017

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Above the Trend Line: your industry rumor central is a recurring feature of insideBIGDATA. In this column, we present a variety of short time-critical news items grouped by category 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 you a one-stop source of late-breaking news to help you keep 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.

It took us a while since our last “Above the Trend Line” column to catch up with the back alley information flow! But here we are again bringing you some cool industry scuttlebutt. Let’s start out with some new partnerships, alignments and collaborations … Rescale is pleased to introduce the ScaleX Labs with Intel® Xeon Phi™ processors and Intel® Omni-Path Fabric managed by R Systems. The collaboration brings lightning-fast, next-generation computation to Rescale’s cloud platform for big compute, ScaleX Pro. The Intel Xeon Phi processor is a bootable host processor that delivers massive parallelism and vectorization to support the most demanding high-performance computing (HPC) applications. The joint cloud solution also features Intel Omni-Path Fabric to deliver fast, low-latency performance. R Systems hosts Intel’s technology at their remote HPC data centers in Champaign, Illinois, providing white-glove implementation and maintenance to make Intel’s hardware seamlessly accessible on the cloud through Rescale … Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE (AGCS), the corporate insurance carrier of Allianz SE, is working with Praedicat, the InsurTech analytics company based in Los Angeles, to better predict the key catastrophe liability risks of the future. By combining Praedicat’s forward-looking predictive modelling approach with AGCS’ underwriting processes and extensive liability risk portfolio analysis, the companies aim to identify the next generation of catastrophe liability risks for business customers far earlier than under current methods. Praedicat’s modeling engine uses machine learning technology to scan large volumes of data from peer-reviewed science publications and profile the likelihood that products or substances will generate litigation risks over their lifecycle … DataFactZ, a Northville, Michigan-based global business analytics company, continued to expand, adding new clients, announcing new partnerships and hiring 15 new employees in the first quarter of 2017. In February, DataFactZ announced a partnership with Neo4j, a leading graph database solutions provider, to provide enhanced big data analytics services using graph technology. The partnership allows DataFactZ to offer highly scalable native graph interfacing and additional analytics solutions to clients. A partnership with Alteryx in March also expanded DataFactZ’s information system offerings to help clients improve efficiency in self-service data analytics … Gazprom Neft and Yandex Data Factory have agreed to start collaboration in developing big data analytics, applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to drilling and completion, as well as using these technologies to optimise other production processes. The agreement was signed at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum by Vadim Yakovlev, First Deputy CEO of Gazprom Neft, and Alexander Khaytin, Chief Operating Officer of Yandex Data Factory. According to the agreement, the companies plan to provide independent review of technological solutions for the oil and gas industry, develop joint research, create joint technology projects, exchange scientific and technological information and train employees of both companies … Zoomdata, developers of a fast visual analytics platform for big and fast data, and Atos, a leader in digital transformation, announced a technology partnership to integrate Zoomdata with Atos Codex, the business-focused portfolio of solutions and services for data-driven business transformation in every market. The companies also announced that they have secured their first joint customer, a high tech global manufacturing company in the UK.

In special recognition awards, we learned that Haitham Hassanieh is the recipient of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) 2016 Doctoral Dissertation Award. Hassanieh developed highly efficient algorithms for computing the Sparse Fourier Transform, and demonstrated their applicability in many domains including networks, graphics, medical imaging and biochemistry. In his dissertation “The Sparse Fourier Transform: Theory and Practice,” he presented a new way to decrease the amount of computation needed to process data, thus increasing the efficiency of programs in several areas of computing. In computer science, the Fourier transform is a fundamental tool for processing streams of data. It identifies frequency patterns in the data, a task that has a broad array of applications. For many years, the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) was considered the most efficient algorithm in this area. With the growth of Big Data, however, the FFT cannot keep up with the massive increase in datasets. In his doctoral dissertation Hassanieh presents the theoretical foundation of the Sparse Fourier Transform (SFT), an algorithm that is more efficient than FFT for data with a limited number of frequencies. He then shows how this new algorithm can be used to build practical systems to solve key problems in six different applications including wireless networks, mobile systems, computer graphics, medical imaging, biochemistry and digital circuits. Hassanieh’s Sparse Fourier Transform can process data at a rate that is 10 to 100 times faster than was possible before, thus greatly increasing the power of networks and devices. Hassanieh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

In financial results news, we learned that Talena, Inc., a pioneer in enterprise data management for modern big data platforms, has announced that in just 12 months it has seen a more than 10X growth in DataStax Enterprise (DSE) customers relying on its award-winning data management software for improved backup, recovery and test data management. The company now has more than 500 nodes and over one petabyte of DataStax data under management across a wide range of enterprise customers in markets that include financial services, technology, retail and manufacturing.

In funding news, we heard that Tamr Inc., an innovator in data unification, announced that GE Ventures has made a strategic equity investment in the company. The investment follows GE’s experience as a customer of Tamr’s for more than two years. During that time, Tamr’s software has been deployed across multiple GE business units to unify hundreds of data sources, resulting in cost savings and new insights worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Lisa Coca, Managing Director at GE Ventures, joins Tamr’s Board of Directors as an Observer as part of the investment which will be used to accelerate product development and go-to-market initiatives … NTT DATA, a global IT-services provider, announced a strategic capital investment in leading enterprise NoSQL database provider, MarkLogic Corporation. In addition to the new funding, the companies will also be expanding their existing strategic business alliance to develop new go-to-market strategies with specific emphasis on joint customer development in Europe, North America, South America and Japan. The strategic business alliance will help both companies capture significant market share in the global database market … Information Builders, a leader in business intelligence (BI) and analytics, data integrity, and integration solutions, announced a growth equity investment led by Goldman Sachs’ Private Capital Investing group (NYSE: GS). This investment will further extend Information Builders’ leadership position in the large and growing market for BI solutions … StreamSets Inc., provider of the industry’s first enterprise data operations platform, announced that it has raised $20 million in Series B funding. Leading venture capital firms Accel Partners, Battery Ventures and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) participated in the funding round. The funding follows StreamSets’ success in helping enterprises manage their data in motion to propel key initiatives such as big data lakes, the Internet of Things, cybersecurity and customer 360 applications. Proceeds from the funding round will be used for market expansion in North America and Europe and to accelerate delivery of new capabilities in its platform components: the award-winning open source StreamSets Data Collector™ and the cloud-native StreamSets Dataflow Performance Manager (DPM™) … Rulai is a team of award-winning researchers shaping the future of customer experience with next-generation self-service solutions driven by deep learning. The company announced it has closed $6.5 million in series A funding led by one of the most successful early stage VC funds in China. Rulai’s intelligent virtual assistants empower brands to handle more customer engagement faster, better, and with fewer resources. These smart agents simulate human conversation via text or chat by understanding question intent, asking follow-up questions, delivering accurate answers, and completing tasks in a human-like conversational style to handle customer service issues.

We also heard of a number of new products, services and solutions beginning with Dremio, a stealth data analytics company, announced a new way for enterprise organizations to quickly identify the amount of data debt that has been created by applications built to address strategic business initiatives. Dremio’s Big Data Debt Calculator is a free and simple way to estimate unplanned costs that arise from the use of non-relational data management technologies such as Hadoop, MongoDB, Elasticsearch, and Amazon S3, as well as data that is spread across many sources. The calculator also gives recommendations for minimizing debt, strategies for paying it down and ensuring it remains within acceptable bounds. Companies today are more than a decade into their digital transformation initiatives. They are digitizing key business functions with new classes of technology that are incompatible with traditional analytical workflows. Because all data has intrinsic analytical value, this tradeoff creates this analytical debt – Big Data Debt … Kodiak Data introduced MemCloud™, the first memory-speed cloud infrastructure solution for big data scientists and software developers, providing big data analytic clusters at up to one-fifth the cost and five times the performance of typical leading cloud hosting services. MemCloud is built on Kodiak Data’s Virtual Cluster Infrastructure (VCI) platform, the only solution capable of in-software provisioning of compute, networking, storage and data at the cluster level within minutes. MemCloud is available as a hosted cloud service, as well as a compact on-premise appliance for private clouds – an industry first offering. Both the hosted and on-premise versions of MemCloud are currently live at various Kodiak Data customer sites.

We heard of some compelling new customer wins starting with Neurala, the creator of The Neurala Brain deep learning neural network AI software, announcing that it will apply its expertise and AI software in the Lindbergh Foundation’s effort to combat poaching in Africa using intelligent drones. Neurala’s technology can learn from any sensory stream to identify an object of interest. For the Lindbergh Foundation, Neurala will be assisting human analysts by sifting through terabytes of video, including infrared, in real time as the drone is flying, pinpointing animals, vehicles and poachers, both during the day and at night. Neurala software will be used as a part of the foundation’s Air Shepherd Program. The program is dedicated to the elimination of illegal poaching of elephants and rhinos in southern Africa using cutting-edge software-based predictive analysis and drones to stop poachers before they can reach target animals. Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh shared a vision of a balance between technological advancement and environmental preservation that is followed by the foundation today … Stibo Systems, the global leader in multidomain Master Data Management (MDM) solutions, announced that Office Depot, Inc. (NASDAQ:ODP), the leading global provider of office products, services and solutions, has chosen Stibo Systems’ MDM platform, STEP Trailblazer, to fuel their digital transformation efforts. Using STEP, Office Depot will establish an MDM practice that will help bring its products to market faster by automating and streamlining the delivery of consistent and trusted product content across all touch points and channels. Maintaining accurate, standardized product data across all channels is a priority, as consumers have learned to expect a seamless retail experience. Retailers are challenged managing thousands of vendors and millions of SKUs. Expanding assortments and the demand for personalization are placing additional emphasis on the need for centralized master data.

In the people movement category, we heard that CognitiveScale, a provider of industry-specific machine intelligence software, announcing the addition of Dr. Joydeep Ghosh as the company’s first Chief Scientific Officer. An internationally recognized authority on machine learning, data-web mining and related artificial intelligence (AI) approaches, Dr. Ghosh joins the team with more than 30 years of experience applying these technologies to complex real-world problems. As CognitiveScale’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Ghosh will focus on aligning and tightly integrating the company’s Cognitive Cloud software with industry-specific data models and the latest algorithmic sciences efforts; recruiting the best and the brightest minds in AI while supporting those already at CognitiveScale; and educating the market about the power and value of augmented intelligence and enterprise-grade AI … Alation Inc., the collaborative data company, announced the addition of Max Ochoa as chief financial officer and general counsel, Madhu Talluri as vice president of engineering and Matthew Edwards as vice president of customer success. The key hires will allow Alation to scale to meet market demand. The business intelligence and analytics market is projected to reach $18.3 billion in 2017, according to Gartner, and Alation fills a critical gap in the space by enabling users to find, understand and trust their data in order to drive business value from their analytic technology investments … Versium, a leading predictive analytics company, announced it has tapped sales and marketing veteran Dan Concannon as its Chief Revenue Officer. In this new role, Concannon will oversee global sales and marketing in addition to serving as an integral member of the company’s executive leadership team.

There also was some M&A activity in the big data ecosystem … Infor, a leading provider of business applications specialized by industry and built for the cloud, announced it has completed the acquisition of Birst, Inc., a pioneer of cloud-native, business intelligence (BI), analytics, and data visualization. Birst is a unique, comprehensive platform for sourcing, refining, and presenting standardized data insights at scale to drive business decisions. Infor initially announced its intent to acquire Birst April 25, 2017.

We received an interesting comment from Lior Abraham, Founder at Interana on the topic of Facebook out-innovating Snapchat with data:

Success is not always due to innovation, and although Facebook is successful, I believe it’s a result of Facebook’s relentless drive to win. As a former Facebook engineer, I witnessed first-hand Zuckerberg’s rallying cry of ‘domination’ and ‘lockdown’ when Facebook faced similar competitive threats (from Google and Twitter, specifically) during my six years at the company. With Snapchat, they’re copying a lot and building from there – but that’s a smart play. Facebook also understands its product and business to the core and data is the way to do that. This makes them even more flexible and nimble than startups. A lot of companies get this wrong. Facebook’s competition, strengths and weaknesses, cutthroat culture and smart plays will continue to drive success, regardless of innovation. Snap will need a strong drive, rapid-fire execution––and even a little luck––to compete long-term.”

Interana’s CTO Bobby Johnson also had a comment about behavioral analytics and IoT in the context of Google’s announcement of Cloud IoT Core:

One of the reasons digital businesses such as Facebook and Google have been so successful is that all of their employees have access to information about what’s going on in their business. This access to data allows everyone to quickly iterate, which is how these companies innovate so quickly. The announcement today from Google is a big step towards getting this same power into the hands of many other businesses. The IoT movement is really about being able to instrument and measure the physical world the same way we are able to instrument and measure the digital world. The next big step here is to take this data that’s being collected and get it into the hands of every employee in a company, in a way that’s easy for them to ask the wide variety of questions that they have been wondering about for a long time, and the wide variety of questions that they will have as things change in the future. Companies that are able to do this effectively will be able to benefit from the same kind of innovation that has worked so well for Facebook and Google.”

And finally, we have some new global research from Seagate and IDC on big data storage. The results reveal that total worldwide data is set to swell to a staggering 163ZB by 2025 – 10 times the amount created in 2016. Other insights from the study include the following:

  • By 2025, 75 percent of the population will be interacting with data
  • In just eight years, the average person will interact with a connected device nearly 4,800 times a day
  • The number of embedded devices, such as drones and driverless cars, will grow from less than one per person to more than four by 2025

This astonishing increase in data will largely come from enterprises instead of consumers, which means companies will be forced to choose what data to manage, and how. If not managed correctly this data deluge could cause businesses to lose revenue and deliver poor customer experiences, and lead to operational inefficiencies. Seagate is urging CEOs to act now and make sure their data strategy is focused on storing small sets of data that have significant business impact – rather than everything and anything.


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