Microsoft Azure CTO: Machine Learning Can Be Killer Cloud App


Azure CTO Mark Russinovich tells us why machine learning and big data can push the cloud industry further than ever before

Machine learning and big data will transform every industry as IT moves towards a cloud-based business, according to the chief technology officer (CTO) of Microsoft’s Azure cloud business.

Speaking to TechWeekEurope at IP Expo this week, Mark Russinovich explained he is a keen believer in the power of machine learning and big data, an area which already starting to drive innovation and have a real impact on both businesses and people’s lives.

Taking advantage


mark russinovich“If you have this access (to big data) what can you do with it, and what problems can you solve that you couldn’t solve before?” he said. “And how do you take advantage of it?

“Every vertical is going to be disrupted by machine learning and big data,” he added. “Every one of these businesses is going to be disrupted by this – and if you’re not doing it, your competitors are going to leave you behind.”

Cyber security firms, financial systems, search engines and home automation are all areas that are using machine learning to see major improvements, and the power of Azure and other cloud systems could prove that there are no limits to where this innovation can go.

The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has also been helped by the cloud, Russinovich noted, as apps and services need a central location to pump all of their data into before it can be analysed and utilised, as well as accessed and controlled.

The fall in storage prices and explosion of data created by new computing power have both been key factors in driving innovation, and thanks to its rapid increase, the cloud industry is really helping ‘democratise’ machine learning, making it available in more industries than ever before, according to Russinovich.

This will lead to more and more cloud providers offering machine learning as a service products and IoT management services, both of which Azure has led the way on, releasing its IoT Suite last week to give users a way to centralise and make use of all their data.

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awsAll of this potential means that new businesses starting today are in a much stronger place to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud, as they can react to development much faster than existing businesses, Russinovich believes.

“The world is moving so quickly – I don’t think companies have had time to digest this,” he noted. “It’s no fault of their own…and anyone that’s born new, jumps right to this stuff.

“It’s the existing companies, with processes and technologies, that are losing out.”

Machine learning is one of these such technologies that is able to offer advantages to start-ups that are “born into the cloud”.

“By taking advantage of these cloud languages, such as machine learning as a service and big data as a service, they can compete with the big established companies very quickly – effectively, it’s a magnifier for them – they don’t need to hire staff or build data centres, all the foundation work is already there for them.”

Ultimately, the opportunities of the cloud industry are so massive that businesses of all sizes can benefit, with Microsoft’s wide range of Azure services leading the way.

“Cloud is taking off,” he declared. “And one of the powerful aspects about the cloud is the agility and the scale it gives you.

“If you’re not thinking about [these trends], then you’re going to get left behind.”

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