“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 3/23/2020

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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 M&A activity, people movements, funding news, industry partnerships, customer wins, 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.

It has been a very trying couple of weeks since the start of the global coronavirus pandemic. So many lives lost and threatened. So many businesses affected including many from the big data ecosystem. I’ve been affected too: I can no longer practice “nomadic data science,” and I must now do all my teaching online. I’m ready for conditions to improve and get back to normal with our wonderful industry! Live long and proposer to all our loyal readers! But the rumor mill never stops, let’s start with some new funding news … Lightbend, a leader in Reactive Architecture and creator of the popular cloud-native platform Akka, announced the close of a $25 million financing round led by Dell Technologies Capital. Previous investors Bain Capital Ventures, Blue Cloud Ventures, Greylock Partners, IBM, Intel, Juniper Networks, and Shasta Ventures also participated. To date, the company has raised more than $85 million in funding … Hailo, a leading AI chipmaker delivering unprecedented performance to edge devices, announced it has raised $60 million in Series B funding. The round, led by existing investors, was joined by key strategic investors including ABB Technology Ventures (ATV) – the strategic VC arm of ABB, a global leader in industrial automation and robotics; NEC Corporation – a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies; and London-based VC firm Latitude Ventures. The funding will be used by Hailo to bolster the ongoing global rollout of its breakthrough Hailo-8 Deep Learning chip and to reach new markets and industries worldwide.

In M&A news we learned … OpenText™ (NASDAQ: OTEX) (TSX: OTEX), “The Information Company,” announced that it has acquired XMedius, a provider of secure information exchange and unified communication solutions. XMedius brings decades of experience and patented technologies to transform secure and collaborative communication, enabling organizations to move more workloads to the cloud and unlock the information advantage … NetApp® (NASDAQ: NTAP), a leader in cloud data services, announced that it acquired Talon Storage, a leader in next generation software-defined storage solutions enabling global enterprises to centralize and consolidate IT storage infrastructure to the public clouds. The combination of NetApp Cloud Volumes technology and Talon FAST™ software, enterprises can seamlessly centralize data in the cloud while still maintaining a consistent branch office experience … Amplitude, a leader in product intelligence, announced that it has acquired ClearBrain, a predictive analytics startup. This is Amplitude’s first acquisition, and with it, customers will be able to instantly predict which features, campaigns and product bets are most likely to drive revenue growth without extensive A/B testing. In addition to integrating ClearBrain’s technology, Amplitude will be adding ClearBrain’s world-class product and engineering team to its machine learning division, which will be led by ClearBrain CEO Bilal Mahmood. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed … Technology that combines machine learning with artificial intelligence from Purdue University has taken its next giant leap toward powering more Internet of Things and edge computing devices. FWDNXT, a software and hardware startup that spun out of Purdue, was acquired in October by Micron Technology Inc., an industry leader in innovative memory and storage solutions. Micron is integrating FWDNXT’s artificial intelligence hardware and software technology with its advanced memory to explore deep learning solutions for data analytics, particularly in IoT and edge computing … Affinity, a leading relationship intelligence platform, announced the acquisition of Nudge.ai, a revenue intelligence platform designed to build relationships and grow sales. Affinity will acquire the Nudge.ai technology as well as the company’s Intellectual Property and the majority of its product and engineering team. This will enable Affinity to accelerate its new relationship intelligence product geared towards sales teams, which is due out later this year. Founded in 2014 and based in Toronto, Canada, Nudge.ai is a relationship intelligence platform designed to help sales professionals access new accounts, analyze deal risk, measure account health and more. Tens of thousands of B2B sales representatives rely on Nudge.ai to find and nurture relationships in order to generate and accelerate their pipeline.

In the new partnerships, alignments and collaborations category we heard … StorONE, developers of the TRU SDS (Software Defined Storage) that provides a single point of command and control of all storage assets, and SQream, provider of accelerated analytics on massive data stores, announced a joint solution that provides users with high-performance massive data analytics. SQream is a data analytics engine, which rapidly integrates into existing Hadoop and legacy data warehouse ecosystems. SQream can process massive amounts of data with more dimensions, significantly faster and at lower cost than traditional solutions. The performance of the storage infrastructure is critical to the overall performance of SQream’s solution. SQream found that StorONE’s S1 Enterprise Storage Platform delivers the performance their software demands, at a price their customer can afford. With the StorONE Enterprise Storage Platform, S1, SQream DB can saturate a multi-node, parallel file over 100GbE, ensuring the NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs the software uses are fully utilized. In addition to extreme performance, SQream DB customers benefit from StorONE’s advanced alerting and the platform’s UI, which is simple-to-use and navigate. StorONE’s alerting enables customers to receive advanced notification of any performance problems. The interface makes it easy to administer and manage the solution … DataRobot, a leader in enterprise AI, and InterSystems, a global leader in information technology platforms for health, business, and government applications, announced a partnership designed to accelerate the application of AI in healthcare. Through an integration and reseller agreement, the partnership makes it easier for InterSystems customers to integrate predictions and insights from DataRobot’s enterprise AI platform into their healthcare applications … Power Analytics Global, a next generation technology platform company that specializes in critical network infrastructure software monitoring, prediction, simulation and data-analytics, and Molecula, a Cloud Data Access company that simplifies, accelerates, and enables instantaneous, secure access to large, fragmented, and geographically distributed data sets to support the most demanding Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and IoT workloads, announced a strategic partnership. The goal of the partnership is to deliver a combined offering for customers to cost effectively protect and enhance their critical revenue resulting in higher margins, customer retention and more informed capital allocation decisions. The combined offering will allow customers to drastically reduce the cost, time and complexity of accessing critical, operational data from globally distributed network assets and infrastructure. The hardened tools and real-time capabilities of this powerful combination enable our clients to incorporate, predict trends, and take action in real-time across relevant components of distributed data sets while lowering the hardware footprint needed to store, process and make decisions from the operational data streaming from these critical networks … Lanner Electronics, a leader in design and manufacturing of intelligent edge appliances, announced partnering with Gorilla Technology, the cutting-edge video intelligence and IoT security solution provider, to launch the next-gen Secure Edge AI solution. Integrating Lanner’s intelligent edge computing appliance with Gorilla’s real-time video analytics and IoT security platform, the edge AI solution aims to deliver AI-optimized video intelligence while ensuring cybersecurity and data protection at the edge.

In the new customer wins department, we heard … LevaData, the company that delivers applied AI to transform strategic sourcing and procurement, has been chosen by CommScope, a global leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks, to support a new operating model, managing direct materials sourcing for its entire line of products worldwide. CommScope is pushing the boundaries of technology to create the world’s most advanced wired and wireless networks. LevaData will play a key role in supporting CommScope’s commitment to unify its supply chain, optimize its global manufacturing and distribution footprint, and better position the company to respond quickly to rapidly changing market conditions. LevaData’s capabilities are expected to be especially helpful in delivering visibility and increasing the supply chain’s overall responsiveness and agility … Evans Distribution Systems, a provider of third-party logistics and supply chain solutions, is transforming its warehouse packing line with a machine vision AI solution from ADLINK Technology, a global leader in edge computing. Evans has deployed the ADLINK Edge™ Smart Pallet solution to improve accuracy and efficiency using two GigE cameras, an Edge AI Gateway computer and ADLINK Edge™ software. Package contents are recorded and classified as they move along the packing line and rule-based analytics are able to identify any incorrect contents. The solution is able to cross reference real-time vision data viewing the box contents on the packing line against the packing list on Evans’ Warehouse Management System and, if an error is detected, a label is printed on the box to signal that a manual quality check is required … DDN®, a leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and multicloud data management, announced that the High-Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS) has selected DDN’s EXAScaler® with IME® scale-out flash storage system for “Hawk,” its new flagship supercomputer system, to support data-intensive workflows that combine big data analysis, deep learning and simulation, empowering scientists and engineers to conduct research on larger and more complex phenomena …

In people movement news we uncovered … TraceLink Inc., a network-based platform company with the world’s largest integrated digital supply network, announced the continued expansion of its leadership team with the addition of  Jim Mills as the head of data science and Jamshed Dubash as general manager of its Smart Supply and Logistics/IoT business unit. Mills and Dubash are among several new strategic hires that TraceLink has made in the last 12 months … Ground Labs, an expert in sensitive data discovery, announced that it has appointed Nellie Manktelow as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective immediately. The company also announced that co-founders Peter Duthie and Stephen Cavey have assumed Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Evangelist roles, respectively.

We also received a commentary about how poor data practices are costing companies by Monte Zweben, CEO of distributed SQL database company Splice Machine:

“The ability to store data in the cloud has had a significant impact on data storage costs for many organizations. But many organizations are spending far too much to store “garbage” – old, duplicative data – in the cloud. In fact, a 2017 survey of IT managers by Druva found that although cost savings is the primary expectation for moving to the cloud, the same percentage (59%) were concerned about the growing cost attributed to duplicate and growing data.”

“Companies might be repeating history with regards to how they’re storing their data in the cloud by echoing what was done with Hadoop-based data lakes. Businesses must reject the notion that they no longer need to be vigilant about the data governance process of defining which tables contain what data and how are they connected to each other based on the storage cost. It is correct that cloud enables businesses to store data cost-effectively, but the cost to analyze this data is certainly not cheap, and therefore it is paramount for businesses to only store the data in the cloud that will help them generate insights cost-effectively.”

“Businesses should not view their cloud infrastructure as an inexpensive data repository and processing pipeline. Rather, they should start out by focusing on the operational applications first and then work their way back to the data. In this regard, modern data platforms that enable businesses to store data once and then use it for multiple workloads and use cases whether they happen to be transactional, analytical or AI-based can greatly help with lowering the data storage and compute costs, while preventing silos to be formed in the organization that results from duplicating the data for different use cases.”

And finally, we received the following commentary about International Women’s Day from Stradigi AI (a North American AI software company) co-founder and chief scientific officer Carolina Bessega:

Bridging AI’s Gender Gap & The Opportunities for Women in STEM

“The tech industry is facing a shortage in machine learning skills. Just a couple of years ago, Indeed.com shared that AI job postings were rising, but the people applying to these jobs declined these opportunities. This is still a very real problem today for companies as they look to scale in AI, but don’t have the resources to do so. Women, especially from younger generations, have the opportunity to break through in an industry where it’s crucial to have different viewpoints in order to build solutions capable of making decisions that will change people’s lives. Women can bring unique perspectives to problem-solving AI challenges like bias, algorithmic fairness and explainability.”

“Young women are often deterred from entering STEM because it’s still considered a male-dominated field. This becomes increasingly more difficult when these women decide to have children and settle down. The work and family life balance is a constant struggle. When we are removed from the field for too long, we miss out on important milestones in the industry that are consistently evolving and improving.”

“Women play an important role in furthering the advancement of AI. The technology calls for AI to be inclusive. So how do we bridge AI’s gender gap and encourage women to pursue AI careers? The most important thing is empowering women to learn data-driven problem-solving skills, as well as math, statistics, science, and coding.”

“During and leading up to my path in STEM, I always idolized strong, powerful women who stood in the face of adversity – against race, gender, and age, and stuck to their principles. One example is Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician. Not only was she a woman, but a woman of color in a time where both minorities were often overlooked and unwelcome. Katherine refused to give up on the challenges placed in front of her. She, in turn, researched orbital mechanics and these calculations were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights.”

Empowering Women to Network

“For women who are looking to break into the AI industry, building a network can go a long way. Some great starting points include attending industry events or connecting with AI leaders and innovators on LinkedIn – these could result in discovering potential mentors and learning opportunities on industry trends. Employers should also play their part in providing a welcoming work environment that fosters contributions from a wide variety of employees. One way could be by empowering women on their team through industry networking initiatives (providing industry event passes or covering lodging for and transportation to those events).”

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