Microsoft Azure to Offer Cloud-Based Machine Learning

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Microsoft has announced Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, a fully-managed cloud service Designed to cater to the emerging field of machine learning which uses data to algorithmically predict, forecast and change future outcomes.

According to a Monday blog post from Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Machine Learning Joseph Sirosh, the Azure ML public preview will be released in July.

A select few partners, however, are using an early preview of Azure ML.

For instance, Microsoft partner MAX451 is using Azure ML to interpret e-commerce and brick-and-mortar store data to help large stores predict what products a customer may buy next. Some other applications for predictive learning include search engines, credit card fraud prevention systems, GPS traffic directions and mobile phone personal assistants

Currently, many predictive analytics solutions are self-managed and delivered on premises, which can be difficult and expensive to scale, manage and monitor. As well, many solutions require expensive commercial software licences.

Azure ML is designed to provide a comprehensive machine learning service that can have predictive analytics applications up in hours, and includes analytics tools, powerful algorithms developed for Microsoft products like Xbox and Bing, and years of machine learning experience.

According to a New York Times report, Azure ML will be available for an additional fee over what customers pay for standard computing instances and transmission, although exact pricing has not been announced.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s cloud competitors have been exploring predictive analytics with solutions such as the Google Prediction API. Meanwhile, video streaming service Netflix uses machine learning applications deployed on the Amazon Web Services cloud accelerated with GPUs to predict what videos viewers want to watch next.

Using data to not just respond to the present, but to make strategic decisions based on probable outcomes will no doubt shape the future. As more data is collected from customers, more companies are likely to enter this market, betting on a future where the odds are in their favor.

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