Cloud Viewpoint

Cloud and the Democratization of Machine Learning

We have seen many recent advancements in machine learning. IBM’s Watson beat top human champions in Jeopardy. Google’s AlphaGo defeated top human players in Go. Today, machine learning is no longer limited to corporations with big budgets. Cloud computing has lowered the barrier to entry for machine learning. Cloud computing can now provide the computing power required for machine learning that was previously out of reach for most.

While we have not reached the stage of science fiction, like creating machine intelligence like C3PO, it is possible to do a lot. Some popular uses of machine learning today include forecasting weather, filtering spam and predicting product demand. Those types of activities are within reach for most with today’s technology.

Just how accessible is machine learning today? To find out, I dedicated try out some popular machine learning applications and cloud services. I did two experiments. One model predicted whether people would be accepted or denied for a loan. (more…)

Suggestions on how to get AWS Certified

Update: In Nov. 2016, AWS introduced a 5th pillar, “operational excellence” to their Well Architected Framework

I got my AWS certification in November. Since then, a lot of people have asked me about it. So here is a blog with suggestions and a review of the Udemy preparation course that I used. AWS has many certifications. The one I have is the AWS Certified Solutions Architect-Associate. I found the time spent on learning AWS to be valuable. Good luck!

AWS Certification Logo

Official logo that you receive after getting certified


Design Thinking (Part 2 of 2): Think Bigger and Adopt a Beginner’s Mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”, Shunryu Suzuki

When I started learning Design Thinking, I knew it was applicable to designing products. Design Thinking has obvious value for creating user interfaces, clothing and cars. What I did not know is that it could be applied to more abstract concepts like sales strategy, data governance, and business models. Yet, those were my first opportunities to practice Design Thinking. What is the most important lesson that I learned? Be creative. Design Thinking is not a set process. (more…)

Cloud, Mobile and … Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go became the biggest mobile game in U.S. history in nine days. Yet, its significance goes beyond the popularity of the game. Pokémon Go provides a glimpse into a future of augmented reality. The game’s popularity could signal the onset of a new era that blends together both the real-and-virtual world. It provides businesses with innovative ways to attract clients. Restaurants have already found ways to leverage Pokémon Go to level up sales. In the tech industry, we often talk about how cloud computing enables innovation and growth. Pokémon Go is a tremendous example of how cloud computing can enable innovation and viral growth.

Unlike traditional games, Pokémon Go fuses the the digital world with the real world. Players walk around searching for Pokémon, characters also referred to as “Pocket Monsters”. Pokémon have been found all over. They are most likely in your neighborhood. They are at many popular tourist spots. A recent citing of a Pokémon in Central Park led to a stampede of people hoping to capture it.

Augmented Reality and Pokemon Go (more…)

Careers and robots: will technology usher in an age of leisure?

In 1967, Walter Cronkite speculated “Technology is opening a new world of leisure time. One government report projects that by the year 2000, the United States will have a 30-hour work week and month-long vacations as the rule.” This American life-of-leisure has not arrived yet and its 2016. Perhaps we just have to wait a little longer. If what Martin Ford suggests in “Rise of the Robots” comes true, we will not have to work. Is the world ready?

For perspective, let me reflect on an inspiring talk that IBM Fellow John Cohn delivered at Interconnect 2016. Cohn provided this advice for a time where careers are disrupted more and more by advances in technology, “find your way with play”. The short-term takeaway is that we can all benefit from play, even when we think we should be heads-down working. The longer term question is, would our lives be better if we could play more often or even all the time.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 8.02.06 PMSerious Play: An Engineer’s Perspective on Fun and Passion at Work


Cloud Foundry Summit 2016: Will Cloud Foundry emerge as the open winner for Cloud?

Developers and cloud operators from all over the world gathered in sunny Santa Clara at the end of May for Cloud Foundry Summit 2016. The event is a premier event for one of tech industry’s leading open source cloud platforms. Progressive enterprises like Allstate talked about how they adopted Cloud Foundry. There were standing room only sessions like “Cloud Foundry and Containers” by IBM’s Julian Friedman. The room was packed all the way to the back door for that one. Springer Nature’s Daniel Otte and Simon Johansson had the best slides and delivered an entertaining keynote. Credit to Simon’s wife, who has a lot of talent and toys, for making those slides.

Consequences of traditional deployment

Best Slides at the Summit

Tech trailer blazer Paul Maritz spoke during the closing keynote. He described a pattern where technology has one open and one closed winner.  For example, Android and iOS are, respectively, the open and closed winners among mobile platforms. Linux and Windows are the open and closed winners among operating systems. The question raised is, will Cloud Foundry emerge as the open winner for cloud? (more…)

Seeking and Finding Alpha – Will Cloud Disrupt the Investment Management Industry?

Today, one typically pays investment managers a percentage of assets under management. What if, instead, we pay investment managers for performance? That is the vision of startup Alpha Modus. Alpha Modus has developed new investment tools that leverage cognitive cloud capabilities from IBM Watson to help investment professionals beat the market. The experience of this almost two-year-old company exemplifies how one can rapidly realize business value using the cloud.

Alpha Modus was on stage at the IBM Interconnect 2016 opening keynote. The startup believes that we should pay investment professionals for performance, or alpha. What is alpha? Alpha measures investment performance relative to a market index. An investment with a positive alpha has outperformed the market.

Seeking Alpha
Investment managers seek alpha but, over the past few decades, fewer and fewer have realized it. According to research by Larry Swedroe and Andrew Berkin in their book, “The Incredible Shrinking Alpha”, roughly 20% of active managers generated alpha 20 years ago. Today, however, only 2% achieve statistically significant alpha. Considering those statistics, the investment management industry is ripe for disruption. (more…)

Docker for the Enterprise: Are we there yet?

Soon after its initial 2013 release, Docker became a frequent topic in my client discussions. By 2016, even the biggest enterprises are exploring Docker. No longer is it just younger companies like Yelp. Mature enterprises like Verizon have publicized their work with Docker. What do enterprise executives see in Docker? Some believe Docker could usher in an era of harmony between application developers and IT operations. Others believe Docker will help lower costs, solve vendor lock-in and enable their hybrid cloud strategy. Can Docker really help and enterprise achieve all this, today? 

Adoption Begins with Three Key Developer Benefits
Docker’s momentum did not start with executive initiatives but rather with grass-roots developer adoption. Why? (more…)

Does simplicity give Ansible an edge over similar tools?

What took me three blog posts for Chef, I can describe in one for Ansible. Like Chef and Puppet, Ansible is a configuration management tool that helps us with automating repetitive tasks like deploying packages or applications to groups of servers. Ansible was released in 2012 and is relatively new compared to Puppet, released in 2006, and Chef, released in 2009.

A few years makes a big difference in technology nowadays. For a frame of reference, consider how many new tools have come out recently. In this week’s New York Cloud Expo, a speaker from CoreOS described 18 new and potentially very useful tools that have become available in the past two years. With so many cloud tools available, which ones will gain traction? This post discusses Ansible, which may gain in popularity because of its simplicity. (more…)

Create a DNS in a cloud

The previous post, “Are meaningful server names just for tradition in a cloud?”, talked about how Enterprises want to use server naming conventions. What happens, however, when a cloud service provider uses its own scheme, typically hard-to-remember unique? This post will talk about one possible solution, creating an alternative DNS-in-a-cloud.

Let us assume that we want a naming convention with hostnames like:

but our cloud provider uses a scheme like this: