cloud

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

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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…)

Design Thinking (Part 1 of 2): Transforming Organizations with Entrenched Cultures

How do we balance a drive for perfection with a drive for innovation? This is a question that is discussed in “What Design Thinking Is Doing for the San Francisco Opera.” That opera company dates back to the 1850s and has a structured organization focused on perfection. Using Design Thinking, their culture has shifted from on that is “very, very, very averse to change, not open to the idea of failure” to one that embraces change.  Their experience is somewhat similar to what many enterprises face when adopting cloud computing. There is a need to change and challenge cultural and organizational norms.

Innovation at the San Francisco Opera
Prior to applying Design Thinking, experimentation from the San Francisco Opera was rare. Their high quality requirements meant costly and therefore few experiments. Working with Stanford’s “d.school”, they undertook a series of rapid prototypes. (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…)

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…)

Will Enterprises reorganize into Agile Squads as they embrace Cloud?

The AWS meetup group in New York invited Hudl CTO Brian Kaiser to speak in September. He presented how Hudl implemented agile methods to overcome slowing code deployment time. As his company grew, deploys that used to take 30 minutes could take a few hours or even be pushed to the next day. Brian emphasized that their agile transformation began with the reorganization of teams into Agile Squads. Only later did they transform their “Monolith” application using microservices technology. Hudl’s approach offers insight on how enterprises can successfully transition Big IT to Big-and-Fast IT.

Hudl provides tools for coaches and athletes to improve play and strategy. Their initial tools were for football, a sport that epitomizes the importance of agility. Analyst David Linthicum once wrote about the important of agility in cloud computing using football analogies, including these.

  • Agility beats strategy each and every game
  • Agility (of a lineman) is more effective than size
  • The game can change quickly

In football, a team could be down by 20 at halftime and still win, or vice-versa. Those of us in technology know that our game can change quickly too. New disruptive innovations abound. How do enterprises take advantage of what is new? How can enterprises become more agile? (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:

zeus.cloud.mydomain.com

but our cloud provider uses a scheme like this:

zeus.longuniquetag.compute.cloud.mydomain.com

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Are meaningful server names just for tradition in a Cloud?

In today’s “AWS re:Invent” keynote, Andy Jassy, Senior VP of AWS (Amazon Web Services), said that 90% of their roadmap is driven directly by client feedback. For the other 10%, they listen to what the clients say but have to think about what the client really wants and invent on their behalf to solve the problem. Is server name convention one such scenario where those of us in the cloud space need to innovate?

One of my clients is so invested in their DNS naming convention that their applications and security protocols expect servers to follow a specific convention. They have requested that an IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) solution needs to conform to their DNS naming standard because it would be so difficult to move away from their convention.

Can we build clouds that scale and meet existing DNS naming conventions? Do we want to? In the long-term, when enterprises have fully embraced cloud, my belief is that we will move away from server naming conventions to server tagging and search. Such a transition will neither be quick nor easy. As Mark Twain wrote in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, “the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it”. We will need interim solutions.

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