Google Joins Microsoft, AWS in Machine Learning Fray

Google this week unveiled its Google Cloud Machine Learning offering, pitting it against machine learning (ML) services from cloud rivals Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Launched as a limited preview at Google's GCP NEXT 2016 event, Google Cloud Machine Learning is a managed platform that helps users build ML models with all kinds of data coming in all sizes.

"Cloud Machine Learning will take machine learning mainstream, giving data scientists and developers a way to build a new class of intelligent applications," Google said in a blog post Wednesday. "It provides access to the same technologies that power Google Now, Google Photos and voice recognition in Google Search as easy to use REST APIs."

Google already has a portfolio of pre-trained ML models, and has added a new one, the Google Cloud Speech API, joining the likes of the Translate API and the Vision API. Developers wanting to create their own ML models can use Google's Cloud Datalab and the TensorFlow framework (open sourced last year), which leverages GPU computing power along with CPU resources. Such models become immediately available for use on Google's global prediction platform, which can service thousands of users and terabytes of data. Portable models can be built with the TensorFlow SDK and trained locally on sample data sources, and these can then be trained at scale on the Google Cloud Platform.

"You can easily build predictive analytics models using your own training data," the company said. "For example, a financial services app that predicts values using regression models, or a classification service for images. Cloud Machine Learning will take care of everything from data ingestion through to prediction."

Google's new ML offering might be seen as a catch-up play for Google to compete with the more established Azure ML from Microsoft and Amazon Machine Learning from AWS.

"Finally, Google is taking the enterprise battle for the cloud seriously and, for sure, it is not too late to complete," IDC said in an interview. "The cloud wars are still relatively nascent, and while a couple of other players like AWS and Azure have been more enterprise-focused and have garnered early leadership, the situation is fluid, and it is definitely early days. We are beginning to see the [Google Cloud Platform] kick into hyper-drive on multiple fronts and no doubt this is a function of the new focus that [Google's cloud chief] Diane Greene is bringing to the platform."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.