Hilary Mason on taking big data from theory to reality

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If you’re interested in assessing how and when a given data technology — deep learning, machine intelligence, natural language generation — can move from the theoretical to commercial use,  Hilary Mason may have the best job around. This week’s guest, the CEO and Founder of Fast Forward Labs, talks about how that startup taps into a wide array of expertise sources– from academic and commercial research, the open source world to “outsider art” in the realms of spam and malware, to come up with new ideas for applications.

One natural language generation (NLG) project, for example, lets a person who wants to sell her house, enter the parameters — square footage, number of rooms etc — then step back to let the system write up the ad for that property. (As a person who makes her living from writing words, all I can say is: “ick.”)

She’s also got an interesting take on opportunities in the internet of things — a term she dislikes — and why the much-maligned title of data scientist has validity. Mason is really interesting so if you’re pressed for time, check out at least the second half of this podcast. And to hear more from her, be sure to sign up for Structure Data in March, where she will return to speak in March.

Shivon Zilis, VC, Bloomberg Beta; Sven Strohband, Partner and CTO, Khosla Ventures; Hilary Mason, Data Scientist in Residence, Accel Partners; Jalak Jobanputra, Managing Partner, FuturePerfect Ventures.

Shivon Zilis, VC, Bloomberg Beta; Sven Strohband, Partner and CTO, Khosla Ventures; Hilary Mason, Data Scientist in Residence, Accel Partners; Jalak Jobanputra, Managing Partner, FuturePerfect Ventures.

As for segment one, Derrick and I discuss Datapipe’s acquisition of GoGrid, the first cloud consolidation move of the new year; the long-awaited Box IPO; and an itty bit on Microsoft’s foray into augmented reality.

So get cozy and take a listen.

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Hosts: Barb Darrow and Derrick Harris.

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Datapipe snaps up GoGrid as (sigh) cloud consolidation continues

It’s three weeks into 2015 and here’s the first cloud deal of the year: Managed service provider Datapipe is buying GoGrid, an infrastructure-as-a-service vendor that has been morphing into a big data specialist. Terms were not disclosed, but the deal indicates that the consolidation that swept the cloud provider market in 2014 continues, as some predicted.

[company]GoGrid[/company], with its big data expertise — it recently partnered with Cloudera to accelerate enterprise Hadoop deployments —  will boost Datapipe’s quest to become a global provider of managed services across workload types, [company]Datapipe[/company] CMO Craig Sowell said in an interview.

Datapipe, headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey, hasn’t been shy about using acquisitions to further its cloud agenda: In September 2013, it bought Newvem, a provider of [company]Amazon[/company] Web Services monitoring and optimization services, and last August it purchased Layered Tech, an MSP specializing in federal government implementations. Terms were not announced there either.

Wanted: Scale across geographies and workloads

[company]Newvem[/company] was a strategic acquisition to gain expertise in analyzing and optimizing AWS, as Datapipe provides managed AWS services. “We saw the explosion of data that AWS usage generates required a big data tool to understand it and [company]Layered Tech[/company] was about expanding into the federal government market — they had FISMA and provisional FedRAMP compliance and we expect ot be fully FedRAMP compliant shortly. That will let us bring managed AWS to federal accounts,” Sowell said.

FISMA, or the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, is a framework for protecting government information and operations against natural or man-made threats while FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) is a standard way to vet or approve cloud computing deployments. AWS achieved its FedRAMP certification about two years ago.

By buying GoGrid, Datapipe also adds new data center coverage in San Francisco and Amsterdam to its roster, which already includes data center presence in Shanghai; Iceland, London; Singapore; and 8 other U.S. locations.

Datapipe is already a global provider, Sowell said, but acknowledged the need to keep scaling and delivering more services worldwide across all workloads and segments is the plan.

Datapipe’s sales pitch is that it can act as the IT arm of an account and manage multiple cloud vendors, taking that off the plates of internal staff. Datapipe supports VMware for private and hybrid cloud, but in the public cloud space it remains focused on AWS only.

Sooo, who’s next on the block?

With GoGrid gone, along with Metacloud (now part of Cisco), Eucalyptus (now [company]HP[/company]), Cloudscaling (now [company]EMC[/company]); and SoftLayer (now [company]IBM[/company]), the question of who’s next arises yet again.

Doubtless all eyes will again turn to Rackspace, which apparently was too rich for IBM’s blood a few years ago. But there are a bunch of other still-independent entities such as CloudSigma, [company]Digital Ocean[/company], [company]Joyent[/company], [company]Mirantis[/company]  and [company]ProfitBricks[/company] still out there.

A reasonable person might think that some of the legacy enterprise software companies — Oracle? SAP? — might still be in the market for more cloud expertise.

Datapipe data center map

ProfitBricks says it can out-Amazon Amazon’s cloud

As ProfitBricks rolls out its scale-up infrastructure as a platform in the U.S. this week, it says it can offer more powerful instances to customers cheaper than market leader Amazon Web Services. That’s a tall order, but an intriguing one.

Amazon outages — lessons learned

Two big Amazon outages over the past month certainly got everyone’s attention. Here are three tactical measures cloud users should take to minimize damage from future cloud computing snafus. Broadly, the outages also ratchet up pressure for companies to move to multiple clouds.

Nimbula, Citrix clouds vow Amazon-style computing

If you didn’t think that Amazon was the king of cloud, just look at what other cloud companies announced Monday. Even paragons of the private cloud world are trying to cloak themselves in the glow cast by Amazon, which is squarely in public cloud realm.

Startup takes on cloud overprovisioning

As more companies put workloads on Amazon Web Services or other public cloud platforms, many are paying for more cloud than they need. That overprovisioning is the problem Cloudyn, an Israeli startup, is taking on with its new software as a service.

Prices are dropping, but IaaS isn’t a commodity yet

There’s a long-running debate in the cloud computing world about whether standard IaaS resources have become true commodities, but it doesn’t look like they’re there yet. Even as prices drop closer to zero across the cloud-provider landscape, there are still plenty of points of differentiation.

For developers, Amazon’s cloud is a harsh mistress

Developers at the Surge conference in Baltimore have a love-hate relationship with America’s largest online retailer and cloud provider. But repeated tales of Amazon’s failures were immediately followed by assurances that the service was cheaper and better than buying your own hardware.

Dome9 launches as cloud security heats up

Dome9, a stealth company that aims to create the equivalent of a firewall for public and private clouds, launched the company and its product Monday. The company, which was founded last year, is just one of several cloud security companies coming out of stealth mode.

Enterprise clouds stay hot as Virtustream raises $10M

Virtustream, a cloud computing provider focused on hosting enterprise applications, has raised $10 million in a Series B round. The round was funded by existing investors Intel Capital, Columbia Capital, Noro-Moseley Partners, and TDFunds, which invested $49 million in Virtustream’s Series A round last year.