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Microsoft Readying Azure Machine Learning Service Preview

"Azure ML," Microsoft's new machine learning service based on its Azure cloud platform, will launch as a preview next month, the company said Monday.

Originally developed for Microsoft's Bing search and Xbox game services, Azure ML is a collection of algorithms and analytics tools for use by organizations with their applications. The service includes templates and visual workflows to simplify setup. Users will be able to publish APIs and Web services to "turn analytic assets into enterprise-grade production cloud services," according to Microsoft's announcement. Microsoft manages all of infrastructure on the backend.

Azure ML is being rolled out to address a shortage of developers and data scientists for building predictive analytics services, according to Microsoft. It's designed simplify matters for developers, said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Some of Microsoft's partners are already testing an early release of Azure ML. The service is being used for activities such as gauging e-commerce efforts, energy management and "real-time fault detection." Microsoft's video accompany the announcement also promises fraud protection as a possible use for the service. It's also expected to find use with the "Internet of things" concept, or the harvesting of machine sensor data.

No details about the cost and capabilities of the service were described. Likely it will be designed to work with Microsoft's other data services, including Power BI for Office 365 and Microsoft Azure HDInsight ("big data"), as well as SQL Server, but such details weren't described.

The origins of Azure ML stem from an earlier project called "CloudML," which is the basis for Microsoft's "Project Sage" recommendations-as-a-service project, according to an account by longtime Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley. A recommendations-as-a-service platform processes data to predict user behavior and preferences, typically to maximize online sales efforts.

A sign-up page for organizations and partners wanting to try the Azure ML preview, when it gets released next month, can be found at this page.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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