“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 12/11/2017

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Above the Trend Line: your industry rumor central is a recurring feature of insideAI News. In this column, we present a variety of short time-critical news items grouped by category such as people movements, funding news, financial results, industry alignments, rumors and general scuttlebutt floating around the big data, data science and machine learning industries including behind-the-scenes anecdotes and curious buzz. Our intent is to provide you a one-stop source of late-breaking news to help you keep abreast of this fast-paced ecosystem. We’re working hard on your behalf with our extensive vendor network to give you all the latest happenings. Heard of something yourself? Tell us! Just e-mail me at: daniel@insideAINews.com.  Be sure to Tweet Above the Trend Line articles using the hashtag: #abovethetrendline.

As 2017 draws to an end, I just have one thing to say – WHAT A YEAR! This has been a banner year for the big data ecosystem, and we here at insideAI News feel honored to have given our audience a strong sense for the thriving pulse of the industry. 2018? Bring it on! For now, let’s continue on with our period review of what’s happening, starting with a whole slew of new partnerships, alignments and collaborations … Supercomputer leader Cray Inc. (Nasdaq: CRAY) announced the company has joined the Big Data Center (BDC) at the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). The collaboration between the two organizations is representative of Cray’s commitment to leverage its supercomputing expertise, technologies, and best practices to advance the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI), deep learning, and data-intensive computing … Hazelcast, a leading open source In-Memory Data Grid (IMDG) with tens of thousands of installed clusters and over 39 million server starts per month, announced it had joined the Eclipse Foundation, bringing extensive Java-driven community experience to a host of open source projects. Working collaboratively with other members of the Eclipse community, Hazelcast’s primary focus will be on JCache, the Eclipse MicroProfile and EE4J. In particular, Hazelcast will be collaborating with members to popularize JCache, a Java Specification Request (JSR-107) which specifies API and semantics for temporary, in-memory caching of Java objects, including object creation, shared access, spooling, invalidation, and consistency across JVM’s. These operations help scale out applications and manage their high-speed access to frequently used data. In the Java Community Process (JCP), Hazelcast’s CEO, Greg Luck, has been the co spec lead and then maintenance lead on “JCache – Java Temporary Caching API” since 2007 … Periscope Data and Learn iT! announced a partnership to deliver expert analytics training for data teams and business users based on powerful, user-friendly analytics software. Learn iT!, which offers dozens of courses focusing on data management and business intelligence, will now offer students the ability to do their course work via Periscope’s Unified Data Platform. Periscope Data will also cross-promote Learn iT! courses via its dedicated online community for data analysts, data engineers and data scientists … Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE:HPE) and the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge today announced a collaboration to accelerate new discoveries in the mathematical sciences. This includes partnering with Stephen Hawking’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (COSMOS) to understand the origins and structure of the universe. Leveraging the HPE Superdome Flex in-memory computing platform, the COSMOS group will search for clues hiding in massive data sets—spanning 14 billion years of information—that could unlock the secrets of the early universe and black holes … Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has made a minority investment in 1QBit, a leading quantum computing firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia, through Accenture Ventures. The move will help Accenture expand its capabilities in quantum computing analytics, heralding a new era of intelligence for businesses and organizations. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. In addition, the two companies have formed a strategic alliance under which Accenture will be 1QBit’s preferred systems integrator. Accenture has also been granted a license to use the 1QBit platform for demonstration, training, and the development and testing of Accenture tools and assets. Accenture will leverage its alliance with 1QBit to develop a quantum-inspired analytics capability through Accenture Analytics and scale pilot opportunities identified through the Accenture Labs. Quantum-inspired analytics harnesses the power and properties of quantum computing to tackle business problems orders of magnitude faster than traditional computing … Infosys (NYSE: INFY), a leader in consulting, technology and next-generation services today announced a partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to offer a joint end-to-end mainframe modernization solution, which will provide global enterprise customers robust hardware and advanced software architecture. Infosys’ Mainframe Modernization Solution powered by HPE’s Mission Critical Computing Systems is aimed at fueling innovation and obtaining cost efficiencies while maintaining security and scale. The joint solution by Infosys and HPE will offer customers an integrated platform that will transform their legacy applications to the latest hardware and software architecture, enable cloud and mobile ready applications, and simultaneously reduce cost and enhance customer experience. This solution facilitates development of new business models supported by new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automation, and newer classes of middleware and database architecture which will enable companies to transform seamlessly from mainframe platforms.

We also heard of some compelling new customer wins … Trifacta, a leader in data wrangling, announced that Kuecker Logistics Group Inc. (KLG) has deployed Trifacta Wrangler Edge to more productively wrangle supply chain data for its global customers. With Trifacta, KLG more effectively leverages diverse data stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) to identify complex solutions for its customers’ material handling processes, which extend throughout giant warehouses and across the world … Sinequa, a leader in cognitive search and analytics, announced that it was selected by DZ BANK in Germany to boost the ability of the DZ BANK workforce to extract insight from data, share ideas, innovate and achieve effective corporate governance in the areas of risk management, reputation management and transparent decision making. DZ BANK is the second largest bank in Germany by asset size and the central institution for approximately 1,000 cooperative banks and their 12,000 branch offices. Within the Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken Co-operative financial network, which is one of Germany’s largest private sector financial service organizations, DZ BANK functions both as a central institution and as a corporate and investment bank … Snowflake Computing, the data warehouse built for the cloud, announced that Overstock.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:OSTK) has chosen Snowflake to augment and scale its data science initiatives. Snowflake enables Overstock, one of the world’s premier home goods and furnishings retailers, to fast-track highly impactful data science projects to deliver on its brand promise of using technology to help customers find just what they want, for less. Overstock joins fellow online retailers Rue La La and Rent the Runway in leveraging Snowflake’s modern, cloud-built data warehouse … Alluxio, formerly Tachyon, developer of the world’s first software system that unifies disparate storage systems at memory speed,, announced that TalkingData, China’s largest data broker covering more than 600 million smart devices on a monthly basis, has chosen the company’s storage layer software to process more than 20 terabytes of data and more than one billion session requests every day. TalkingData’s products are powered by its massive proprietary data set with more than 120,000 mobile applications and 100,000 app developers who rely on TalkingData’s services. TalkingData serves a wide range of clients in both Internet and traditional industries, including leading enterprises in the financial, real estate, fast-moving consumer goods, retail, travel and government sectors.

We also learned of some new funding news … NGDATA®, the customer experience management solutions company, announced that it has raised just over $19 million in Series C funding. HPE Growth Capital led the round with participation from existing investors including Idinvest Partners, Pamica, SmartFin Capital, Capricorn Venture Partners and Nausicaa Ventures. This latest investment comes on the heels of tremendous momentum for the company. In January 2017, NGDATA closed a $9.4 million funding round and experienced record business, customer and product revenue growth. Its May 2017acquisition of Eccella added valuable data management expertise and expanded the company’s global footprint across North America, Europe and Asia. NGDATA also made significant updates to its next-generation customer data platform, Lily™, adding new Attribution and out-of-the-box Next Best Experience capabilities to help marketers better use customer data to engage customers more effectively while tracking their marketing efforts more accurately and optimizing marketing spend. The funds will primarily be used to further accelerate global growth and to continue to build out NGDATA’s vision to be the best partner for digital transformation, ecosystem investment and enhancing customer centricity in organizations … Kespry, a leading aerial intelligence solution provider,  announced it has raised $33 million in its Series C round of funding, led by G2VP with Shell Technology Ventures, Cisco Investments, and ABB Ventures joining as new investors in the company. Each investor has a significant track record in supporting the growth of organizations focused on transforming the future of industrial work. Existing investors also participating in this round include Lightspeed Venture Partners, DCM Ventures, Spectrum 28, and H. Barton Asset Management … Leading marketing analytics company Supermetrics has announced the successful closure of a €3.5M Series A funding round by OpenOcean Capital. Supermetrics aims to further solidify its position as the leading marketing analytics solution on the market by using the funding to strategically invest in its technology.

In the people movement category, we heard … Information Builders, a leader in business intelligence (BI), analytics, and data management solutions, announced the appointment of Frank J. Vella as chief operating officer. In this role, Vella will work closely with Information Builders’ executive team to develop growth strategies, identify new market opportunities and drive the company’s expansion efforts … Cambridge Semantics, a leading provider of a universal semantic layer for big data management and connected data analytics solutions, announced Steve Dischinger as its Vice President of Business Development and Alliances. Dischinger brings more than 30 years of industry experience to the company, including business development, sales, channels, alliances, OEM technology licensing, SaaS, PaaS and cloud computing. Nearly 15 years of his career was dedicated to business development for IBM Software Group (SWG) for emerging internet technologies and early customer adoption. Following that he spent over 10 years building a partner ecosystem for TIBCO Software, a global provider of integration and analytics software. Dischinger most recently served as vice president of alliances at Apcera, a container management platform provider which was acquired by Ericsson. Dischinger will focus on accelerating Cambridge Semantics’ go-to-market initiatives and partner relationships to expand the adoption of Anzo Smart Data Lake® (ASDL) 4.0, the company’s flagship platform product that builds a semantic layer at scale on all enterprise data. He will work closely with technology partners and global systems integrators to further Anzo SDL 4.0 deployments in sectors such as life sciences, financial services, healthcare, transportation and energy … CognitiveScale, Inc., a leading augmented intelligence company, today announced the appointment of Robert LeBlanc to its advisory board, effective immediately. Robert joins a distinguished group of board members, including former SVP and Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at USAA CIO Rickey Burks, and Kony Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Hogan.

And finally, we received some comments about announcements from the recent AWS re:Invent event. In reference to the Amazon announcement of Neptune, a graph database solution, we heard:

Amazon’s entrance into the graph space with Neptune is the latest example in a long line of massive enterprise players entering the space,” said Emil Eifrem, CEO and co-founder of Neo4j. “We can credibly say we helped pioneer, establish and propel this space and, as with other major players launching their own graph offerings, we believe this further proves the value of understanding connections between data. Amazon understands the importance of a graph database, not just from its AWS business, but as one of the first and most successful online retailers. They certainly have the potential to turn into a formidable competitor over the years that it takes to evolve and stabilize a new database management system, but it’s still early days for this new offering. Big picture it lends to a larger graph database tide that it is likely to lift all boats, where more competition and more choices leads to a stronger market. We see this as a great indicator to the strategic and indispensable nature of graphs.”

And also:

The launch of Amazon Neptune is a very big deal for everyone working in the data analytics field,” said Cambridge Semantics’ CTO Sean Martin. “Another highly influential company has validated the effectiveness of graph-based information as opposed to traditional databases in querying for answers, insights and business value. And because it’s Amazon, it will have far-reaching effects as developers implement Amazon Neptune in applications, connected data analytics, machine learning initiatives and more.”

In reference to how the AWS CEO took a swing at Oracle as well as the database industry as a whole saying that enterprise appetites for proprietary database technologies are waning, we heard:

Today’s organizations are demanding better functionality and flexibility from their technologies, best framed by open source and community driven than “cheap,” said Michael Howard, CEO MariaDB. “Meanwhile proprietary solutions like Oracle have become synonymous with high-cost, complex licensing, and sadly, stale innovation. This past year I’ve had the same conversation with customers over and over again––with the increase in cloud adoption comes an increased fear of cloud vendor lock-in, in effect the “new proprietary.” With many of the leading companies of the world — banks, telecom, retail, media — migrating from Oracle Enterprise, MySQL, and even Aurora to MariaDB, as the standard for relational workloads, we anticipate that this will continue to be a trend as more organizations require the freedom to deploy across any topology, whether it be on premises or across public, private or hybrid cloud environments.”

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