Solve These Tough Data Problems and Watch Job Offers Roll In

Late in 2015, Gilberto Titericz, an electrical engineer at Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras, told his boss he planned to resign, after seven years maintaining sensors and other hardware in oil plants. By devoting hundreds of hours of leisure time to the obscure world of competitive data analysis, Titericz had recently become the world’s top-ranked data scientist, by one reckoning. Silicon Valley was calling. “Only when I wanted to quit did they realize they had the number-one data scientist,” he says.

Petrobras held on to its champ for a time by moving Titericz into a position that used his data skills. But since topping the rankings that October he’d received a stream of emails from recruiters around the globe, including representatives of Tesla and Google. This past February, another well-known tech company hired him, and moved his family to the Bay Area this summer. Titericz described his unlikely journey recently over colorful plates of Nigerian food at the headquarters of his new employer, Airbnb.

Titericz earned, and holds, his number-one rank on a website called Kaggle that has turned data analysis into a kind of sport, and transformed the lives of some competitors. Companies, government agencies, and researchers post datasets on the platform and invite Kaggle’s more than one million members to discern patterns and solve problems. Winners get glory, points toward Kaggle’s rankings of its top 66,000 data scientists, and sometimes cash prizes.

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Alone and in small teams with fellow Kagglers, Titericz estimates he has won around $ 100,000 in contests that included predicting seizures from brainwaves for the National Institutes of Health, the price of metal tubes for Caterpillar, and rental property values for Deloitte. The TSA and real-estate site Zillow are each running competitions offering prize money in excess of $ 1 million.

Veteran Kagglers say the opportunities that flow from a good ranking are generally more bankable than the prizes. Participants say they learn new data-analysis and machine-learning skills. Plus, the best performers like the 95 “grandmasters” that top Kaggle’s rankings are highly sought talents in an occupation crucial to today’s data-centric economy. Glassdoor has declared data scientist the best job in America for the past two years, based on the thousands of vacancies, good salaries, and high job satisfaction. Companies large and small recruit from Kaggle’s fertile field of problem solvers.

In March, Google came calling and acquired Kaggle itself. It has been integrated into the company’s cloud-computing division, and begun to emphasize features that let people and companies share and test data and code outside of competitions, too. Google hopes other companies will come to Kaggle for the people, code, and data they need for new projects involving machine learning—and run them in Google’s cloud.

Kaggle grandmasters say they’re driven as much by a compulsion to learn as to win. The best take extreme lengths to do both. Marios Michailidis, a previous number one now ranked third, got the data-science bug after hearing a talk on entrepreneurship from a man who got rich analyzing trends in horseraces. To Michailidis, the money was not the most interesting part. “This ability to explore and predict the future seemed like a superpower to me,” he says. Michailidis taught himself to code, joined Kaggle, and before long was spending what he estimates was 60 hours a week on contests—in addition to a day job. “It was very enjoyable because I was learning a lot,” he says.

Michailidis has since cut back to roughly 30 hours a week, in part due to the toll on his body. Titericz says his own push to top the Kaggle rankings, made not long after the birth of his second daughter, caused some friction with his wife. “She’d get mad with me every time I touched the computer,” he says.

Entrepreneur SriSatish Ambati has made Kagglers a core strategy of his startup, H2O, which makes data-science tools for customers including eBay and Capital One. Ambati hired Michailidis and three other grandmasters after he noticed a surge in downloads when H2O’s software was used to win a Kaggle contest. Victors typically share their methods in the site’s busy forums to help others improve their technique.

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H2O’s data celebrities work on the company’s products, providing both expertise and a marketing boost akin to a sports star endorsing a sneaker. “When we send a grandmaster to a customer call their entire data-science team wants to be there,” Ambati says. “Steve Jobs had a gut feel for products; grandmasters have that for data.” Jeremy Achin, cofounder of startup DataRobot, which competes with H2O and also has hired grandmasters, says high Kaggle rankings also help weed out poseurs trying to exploit the data-skills shortage. “There are many people calling themselves data scientists who are not capable of delivering actual work,” he says.

Competition between people like Ambati and Achin helps make it lucrative to earn the rank of grandmaster. Michailidis, who works for Mountain View, California-based H2O from his home in London, says his salary has tripled in three years. Before joining H2O, he worked for customer analytics company Dunnhumby, a subsidiary of supermarket Tesco.

Large companies like Kaggle champs, too. An Intel job ad posted this month seeking a machine-learning researcher lists experience winning Kaggle contests as a requirement. Yelp and Facebook have run Kaggle contests that dangle a chance to interview for a job as a prize for a good finish. The winner of Facebook’s most recent contest last summer was Tom Van de Wiele, an engineer for Eastman Chemical in Ghent, Belgium, who was seeking a career change. Six months later, he started a job at Alphabet’s artificial-intelligence research group DeepMind.

H2O is trying to bottle some of the lightning that sparks from Kaggle grandmasters. Select customers are testing a service called Driverless AI that automates some of a data scientist’s work, probing a dataset and developing models to predict trends. More than 6,000 companies and people are on the waitlist to try Driverless. Ambati says that reflects the demand for data-science skills, as information piles up faster than companies can analyze it. But no one at H2O expects Driverless to challenge Titericz or other Kaggle leaders anytime soon. For all the data-crunching power of computers, they lack the creative spark that makes a true grandmaster.

“If you work on a data problem in a company you need to talk with managers, and clients,” says Stanislav Semenov, a grandmaster and former number one in Moscow, who is now ranked second. He likes to celebrate Kaggle wins with a good steak. “Competitions are only about building the best models, it’s pure and I love it.” On Kaggle, data analysis is not just a sport, but an art.

Tech

Comcast Business offers direct connection to IBM Cloud network

Comcast Business announced Thursday it now offers direct, dedicated network links to the IBM Cloud global network.

The move positions Comcast Business, a unit of Comcast, to compete against AT&T, Verizon, Bell Canada and telecom service providers already offering IBM Cloud Direct Link services.

Comcast Business already claims to be the nation’s biggest cable provider to small and mid-sized businesses. The IBM partnership could be a way for Comcast Business to grow, especially among larger businesses and enterprises.

Enterprises will have “more choices for connectivity so they can store data, optimize their workloads and execute mission-critical applications in the cloud, whether it be on-premise, off-premise or a combination of the two,” said Jeff Lewis, vice president of data services at Comcast Business, in a statement. Customers can select speeds up to 10 gigabits/second.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

Comcast Business offers direct connection to IBM Cloud network

Comcast Business announced Thursday it now offers direct, dedicated network links to the IBM Cloud global network.

The move positions Comcast Business, a unit of Comcast, to compete against AT&T, Verizon, Bell Canada and telecom service providers already offering IBM Cloud Direct Link services.

Comcast Business already claims to be the nation’s biggest cable provider to small and mid-sized businesses. The IBM partnership could be a way for Comcast Business to grow, especially among larger businesses and enterprises.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

InfoWorld Cloud Computing

AWS offers Alexa developers free cloud credits

Developers interested in extending the capabilities of Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant have some more free tools in their arsenal, thanks to a program the company announced Wednesday.

Developers with an active Alexa skill —  a service that expands the capabilities of the virtual assistant — can apply for $ 100 in Amazon Web Services credits every month to help pay for what they’ve built. After that, they can receive up to $ 100 per month in additional credits if they incur usage charges for their skills.

The credits are meant to build on AWS’s existing Free Tier, which offers developers a small bundle of free services every month, but charges them for any usage that goes over those low caps. According to a blog post by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, the move is supposed to make it free for developers to operate most Alexa skills.

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

Google offers new ‘Always Free’ cloud tier to attract users

Google is letting its customers get a taste of its cloud for free, without a time-limited trial. The company quietly launched a new “Always Free” tier on Thursday that lets people use small amounts of its public cloud services without charge, beyond the company’s limited-time trial.

The tier includes — among other things — 1 f1-micro compute instance, 5 GB per month of Regional Storage and 60 minutes per month of access to the Cloud Speech API. Using the free tier requires users to provide a credit card that Google can automatically bill for any use over the limits.

In addition, the cloud provider expanded its free trial so that users get $ 300 in credits that they can use for up to 12 months. Google will halt users’ workloads if they eat up all of the credits before the end of 12 months.

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Network World Cloud Computing

BlackBerry offers secure mobile communications platform for developers

BlackBerry on Tuesday announced a new line of business to provide developers with a secure, cloud-based, mobile communications platform for texting, voice, video and file sharing.

Developers can insert these capabilities into their existing custom apps and services using the new BBM Enterprise SDK (software developer kit), BlackBerry said. The SDK will be sold as a per-user license on a subscription basis to developers, including those employed at enterprises, and to independent software vendors (ISVs).

BlackBerry didn’t say what the licenses would cost, but did say the cost would be affordable, especially compared to communications products from competitors that usually charge on a usage basis for texts, voice and video calls. The SDK will be available worlwide later in February for apps running on iOS and Android.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Dome9 offers multi-cloud security, adds native support for Azure

Dome9 Security, a cloud infrastructure security and compliance vendor, announced today that it is offering native support for the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

This is interesting because until now, Dome9 had strongly pushed an Amazon Web Services (AWS) story. The reasons for that are clear: AWS is the 1,000-pound elephant when it comes to cloud infrastructure, greatly eclipsing all other vendors in terms of market share. But reliance on a single vendor is risky, and the number of third-party vendors at AWS’ recent re:Invent conference that looked uncomfortable at AWS announcements shows the folly of being completely tied to one platform.

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Network World Cloud Computing

SAP offers cash for referrals in new cloud channel program

To sell its cloud services, ERP vendor SAP is crowdsourcing its sales team.

SAP began offering its 15,000 software partners a share of revenue from cloud services they helped sell back in August, under a program called Cloud Choice Profit. It was a way to reward them for helping businesses migrate from traditional on-premise systems, where partners could capture a larger share of the revenue.

At a sales conference in New York on Thursday, it extended the program to offer any businesses, partner or not, referral fees if leads they provide result in a sale of cloud services, an option SAP calls Cloud Choice Referral.

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

Watson Offers Macy’s AI Help, Workday Acquisition: Big Data Roundup

Watson’s AI will help you find shoes at Macy’s, Workday buys big data analytics company, Google releases machine learning APIs, and more in our Big Data Roundup for the week ending July 24.
InformationWeek: Cloud

IBM offers advice on how to secure blockchain in the cloud

Cloud providers hosting blockchain secure transactions technology should take additional steps to protect the records, IBM says.

IBM’s new framework for securely operating blockchain networks, released Friday, recommends that network operators make it easy to audit their operating environments and use optimized accelerators for hashing — the generation of numbers from strings of text — and the creation of digital signatures to pump up CPU performance. 

Along with the security guidelines, IBM announced new cloud-based blockchain services designed to meet existing regulatory and security requirements. The company has worked with security experts to create cloud services for “tamper-resistant” blockchain networks, it said.

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Network World Cloud Computing

HPE’s Haven OnDemand offers ‘machine learning as a service’

Computerworld Cloud Computing

VMware VSAN 6.2 Offers Pathway To Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

With the release of its Virtual SAN 6.2 offerings, VMware is looking to make it easier for customers to create and run a hyper-converged infrastructure within their data centers. The company is also introducing “Ready Nodes,” which are plug-in data center modules with virtual storage.
InformationWeek: Cloud

IDG Contributor Network: SendGrid expands beyond email delivery, offers marketing email features

Computerworld Cloud Computing

Google Offers Cheaper Version of Cloud Services to Run Low Priority Jobs

Google Cloud 300x267 Google Offers Cheaper Version of Cloud Services to Run Low Priority JobsSome departments in your company do not need cloud computing resources to carry high-performance tasks, right? Because Google has just formatted a service plan for such demands. Google launched Preemptible Virtual Machine, a new cloud service that allows to use computing resources at low costs. The offer is suitable for workloads with low priority and can, therefore, be interrupted.

The search giant introduced a new cloud platform that cost 70% less than the same default setting in Compute Engine. The Preemptible Virtual Machine can do well cheap, about $ 0.01 per instance/hour. The most affordable VM charges per hour can range anywhere between $ 0.03 per hour, up to $ 0.11 per hour or more. The problem is that the VMs may stop working when you need it or face peak periods.

The company argues, however, that the offer (in beta) serves very well the various computational tasks. The company cites, for example, some critical workflows that can be distributed among multiple virtual machines. However, it would be a bad idea to adopt the approach to process analysis, modeling, and simulations that require high computing power and instant answers.

To provide the service, Google will use the free capacity in its data center. At times when there is a peak in demand and Google needs more resources, virtual machines involved in Preemptible Compute Engine VMs are recalled and interrupts the current processing. Users receive a notice period of 30 seconds, which should be enough to save your work. Google said No Preemptible VM can run for more than 24 hours straight.

According to the Google post, “all machine types are charged a minimum of 10 minutes. For example, if you run your instance for 2 minutes, you will be billed for 10 minutes of usage. After 10 minutes, instances are charged in 1 minute increments, rounded up to the nearest minute. For example, an instance that lives for 11.25 minutes will be charged for 12 minutes of usage.”

According to Google, there are many that utilize cloud scalability and pricing model to calculate relatively intensive, but short-term assignments. It includes the coding of video, reproduction of visual effects and calculations based on large amounts of information, such as in data analysis, simulation, and genomics.

The solution is quite similar to that of Spot Instances offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). The model of AWS differs in price. Google has a fixed cost while the competitor price varies according to demand.

The market leader AWS routinely cuts their cloud pricing. The company is facing tough competition with Google and Microsoft to maintain its lead in cloud computing and tries to woo more developers to come to its solutions with lower prices, more hardware offerings and more advanced technologies. Microsoft, on the other hand, progressed enough to be a serious threat to Amazon’s dominance in the market.


CloudTimes

Review: Office 2016 for Mac offers a new interface and better features

Mac users of Office who have felt left out in the cold by Microsoft (because the last version, Office 2011 for Mac, was released in October 2010) now have reason to be pleased: The final version of Office 2016 for Mac brings the suite out of the dark ages and into the modern world.

Hints of what the new Office would offer have been out for quite a while, notably the preview of Outlook, introduced in October 2014. But Mac owners had to wait until early July for the final release of the full suite, including the core applications Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

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Network World Cloud Computing

CoolaData offers behavorial analytics as a cloud service

Want to harness the power of business intelligence but don’t have a six-figure budget to build a data warehouse? Why not try a cloud service instead?

Israel-based CoolaData is promising to ease the headaches, and start-up costs, of running a data warehouse with a cloud-based analysis service, one based on components of the Google Cloud Platform.

The service is aimed chiefly at mid-sized organizations, ones too small to have a dedicated team of data scientists and administrators to run data warehouses in-house, but with needs too large to make good use of the free and budget tiers of generic cloud based data analysis providers, said CoolaData’s CEO Tomer Ben Moshe.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

Rackspace offers free clouds to startup-incubators

Rackspace offers free clouds to startup-incubators
By Stuart Corner IT hosting and cloud computing provider, New York Stock Exchange listed Rackspace Hosting, has brought to Australia and New Zealand its zero cost Rackspace Startup Program that provides free cloud hosting and support services to local
Read more on iTWire

Telx, Hexagrid Computing Partner to Offer Private Hosted Cloud Solutions
By Nicole Henderson, September 27, 2011 (WEB HOST INDUSTRY REVIEW) — Data center provider Telx (www.telx.com) announced on Tuesday that it has formed a strategic alliance with cloud computing solution provider Hexagrid Computing (www.hexagrid.com).
Read more on Web Host Industry Review

Web Host Savvis to Provide Cloud Solutions to Virgin Media Business Customers
By Nicole Henderson, September 28, 2011 (WEB HOST INDUSTRY REVIEW) — Web hosting provider Savvis (www.savvis.com) announced on Wednesday that it Virgin Media Business (www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk) will offer its UK customers Savvis' enterprise cloud
Read more on Web Host Industry Review (blog)

Niscayah offers cloud hosting for video storage based on EMC technology

Niscayah offers cloud hosting for video storage based on EMC technology
Launched earlier this year, the Nimbus 24/7 offering is built around video technology from leading CCTV solutions manufacturer Axis Communications, including its AXIS Video Hosting System (AVHS) server software and surveillance cameras.
Read more on SecurityInfoWatch

EnterpriseDB Adding New Cloud Option for PostgreSQL Database
By Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Companies looking to move database operations to public and private clouds will soon have another option in the form of Postgres Plus Cloud Server, EnterpriseDB announced Thursday. EnterpriseDB's Postgres Plus Standard
Read more on PCWorld

Microsoft Server and Tools to Provide Enterprises Hybrid Cloud Technologies
By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email) Microsoft Server and Tools President Satya Nadella said his department's focus is for enterprises to adopt multiple Microsoft technologies that will provide a hybrid public/private cloud solution.
Read more on Server Watch