Microsoft and Amazon, which surprised the tech world with a partnership between their Cortana and Alexa virtual assistants, are back at it again.
Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s AI and Research Group this morning announced a new open-source deep learning interface called Gluon, jointly developed by the companies to let developers “prototype, build, train and deploy sophisticated machine learning models for the cloud, devices at the edge and mobile apps,” according to an announcement just released by the companies.
Deep learning involves training a computer to recognize patterns or unlock insights based on a set of rules for parsing a massive pool of data. As you might expect, this is an extremely complicated and time-consuming process that requires a fair amount of skill. Cloud companies offer ways to speed up the process, but a fair amount of skill is required to get meaningful results.
And most software developers interested in incorporating deep learning technology into their applications don’t have nearly the amount of expertise on hand at either AWS or Microsoft; let alone their combined expertise. Gluon will give those developers a way to tap into that expertise without having to invest nearly as much time and effort in understanding how to use machine learning techniques.
Gluon allows developers to write deep-learning systems in the popular Python language and take advantage of deep learning templates developed by Microsoft and AWS. This makes it much easier to get up and running and much easier to tweak those templates for an application’s specific needs. Developers interested in learning more about the technology can check out Gluon here.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos talked about collaborating at Microsoft’s CEO Summit last year, and executives acknowledged after the Alexa-Cortana announcement that it might not be the last partnership between them. Microsoft Azure and AWS compete aggressively in the cloud, but under Nadella, Microsoft has made a point of partnering strategically with its rivals.
“Amazon is a very impressive company,” said Nadella at the GeekWire Summit this week. “What Jeff and his team have done is something that I’ve long admired, and I think there’s a lot that we can learn. In fact, the good news is that between Microsoft and Amazon, we have a lot of cross-pollination of talent, and I think it’s helpful for this region, by the way, which is something that Silicon Valley always had.”
This story was updated Thursday morning with additional details.