AWS Expands Cloud Efforts with New Machine-Learning Tools

To compete in the profitable cloud-computing arena, Amazon Web Services debuted 20 new machine-learning tools this week at the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. Tools include speech recognition and algorithms to automate decisions. The move helps Amazon compete better with Google and Microsoft, both of which are using their expertise in AI and machine learning to cut into its market share. Machine learning will also help potential developers that can’t create these capabilities on their own. Analysts estimate that Amazon dominates the cloud with a 44 percent market share.

Bloomberg reports that, “the products introduced Wednesday further the evolution of AWS from its origins … as a way to cheaply gain computing power and data storage, letting customers rent space in data centers accessed via the Internet rather than maintaining their own servers.” Instead, “the industry has turned into a race to provide customers tools and functions to use that data in new ways.”

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“We are in a transition stage right now,” said AWS chief executive Andy Jassy, who has run the company since it began 11 years ago. “Relatively few companies will own their own data centers, and those who do will have significantly smaller footprints. That means all of that data is moving to the cloud.”

At its annual event, Amazon highlighted “SageMaker, which provides popular tools for helping developers write, tune and deploy algorithms for tasks such as parsing data or recognizing images and speech” as well as “AWS DeepLens, a $249 device to help developers understand and experiment with machine learning.”

The New York Times reports that Amazon used its annual event to highlight the big companies that use its data centers, among them Expedia and Disney. (Bloomberg points out that Netflix and Capital One also rely on the Amazon cloud.) Amazon also showed off another high-profile client, the National Football League, which is using AWS’s machine learning capabilities to “quickly analyze data captured during games” and “could provide new kinds of statistics for fans and insights that could help coaches.”

NFL executive Michelle McKenna-Doyle dubbed the “new game analysis it plans to offer using Amazon ‘instant quarterbacking’.” Amazon will also be the official technology sponsor of an NFL initiative called next gen stats, although neither company would reveal the financial terms of the relationship.

AWS brought in $12 billion in revenue in the first nine months of the year, “up 42 percent from a year earlier” and “generated almost $3 billion in operating income.” Gartner reports that, “the cloud computing market will grow to $89 billion in 2021, up from $35 billion today.”

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