Google made a big pitch for its cloud platform with machine learning as the focus at its ongoing Next conference in San Francisco. The conference is being held on the scale of Google’s popular I/O, expect the focus here is on enterprise services, and will take place over three days, March 8- March 10.
The opening keynote for Next saw Google bring out the full show for its cloud business, a side of the company that isn’t highlighted often. The search giant trails Amazon and Microsoft’s Azure in the cloud business; Amazon Web Services is seen as the market leader in the segment.
Google’s SVP for Cloud business Diane Greene along with CEO Sundar Pichai, Chairman Eric Schmidt, and Dr Fei Fei Li, who is Google’s Chief Scientist for Cloud AI and Machine Learning, were the key speakers on the opening day. Greene joined Google Cloud in 2015, and has been the driving force behind the business.
“Only last year that we started calling ourselves Google Cloud. Cloud is where the digital revolution is going on. Cloud is no longer just where people store things, or for a startup or sharing files,” said Greene. She pointed out that data analytics was Google’s strength as was machine learning, and that’s exactly what they will offer to their enterprise customers.
The other key speaker was Dr Fei Fei Li, who is the head of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Stanford University, and joined Google’s cloud business earlier in the year. Li, who has helped create ImageNet one of the largest databases for image training for AI, also announced a new Video API for Google’s cloud services.
The new Video Intelligence API will help businesses quickly shift through large repositories of videos files, and locate exactly that part of the clip, which is required. For example, if a media house needs to look through a vast trove of videos to find clips which have a beach in them, this Video Intelligence API can do just that, and save time.
In order to boost its machine learning capabilities on the cloud, Google also announced that it was acquiring a company called Kaggle, which is used by over 800,000 data experts. Kaggle has been building datasets which are publicly available, and used to aid in machine learning. Google didn’t specify how much it has paid for Kaggle.
“Democratising artificial intelligence is important. We need to lower the barriers and make these tools available the largest possible community of developers, enterprises,” said Li during her address.
Li pointed out how AI and machine learning have come a long way, and that Google’s Cloud will help enterprises use these capabilities to make their tasks easier. “Vision API ha been under steady development. We’ve added new capabilities, and there’s been an expansion of meta data from Google’s knowledge graph. So the vision API will now have powers all of Google image search,” she added.
“For 15 years, we’ve invested heavily in AI, Machine learning. Businesses can now rely on these tools to build better products,” said CEO Sundar Pichai during the keynote. Google also announced that the Cloud machine learning engine is now out of beta, and will be available to most developers and enterprises.
The search giant showed off Disney, Home Depot, HSBC, eBay, Colgate, as its customers at the event. It should be noted that most of these players have a multi-strategy for their Cloud business. For instance, Snap Inc, which is the parent company of Snapchat, partners with Google and Amazon Web Services for its cloud solutions.
(Disclaimer: The correspondent is attending Next conference at the invite of Google India, which is paying for accommodation, travel)