Amazon Cloud Introduces Artificial Intelligence Service

Websites are set to get smarter after Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud division added an artificial intelligence service that lets people add predictive and analytical capabilities to their applications.

Andy Jassy, the head of the Amazon Web Services business, on Thursday announced the Amazon Machine Learning service. The company’s main rivals in cloud products, Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc., also operate similar services.

The new product is “a fully managed machine-learning service for developers with no experience,” Jassy said at a keynote speech in San Francisco.

Machine learning is a class of advanced statistical techniques that enables computers to automatically find patterns and areas of significance in data, said Matt Wood, Amazon’s general manager of data science, in an interview.

“Anything you can fit into a spreadsheet file you can feed into a machine-learning service,” he said.

Amazon developed the service after using machine-learning techniques internally for many years, Wood said. Large Amazon Web Services customers, including activist website Change.org, asked Amazon to give them more machine-learning services, he said. All data submitted to the service is kept private and the system will get smarter over time as the customer manipulates more data with it, Wood said.

Business Services

The Seattle-based company introduced its first set of Web-services products almost 10 years ago, provoking copycat businesses from Microsoft and Google as well as other traditional enterprise firms like Oracle Corp.

Now the business division in which Web-services sales are logged brought in $1.67 billion in sales in the company’s most recent quarter. Amazon will start breaking out AWS as its own line item later this month, when it reports its next quarterly earnings.

The company made further overtures to businesses with new products announced on Thursday that focus on storage and enterprise software.

Jassy introduced a new storage service named the Amazon Elastic File System.

“A file system is the missing building block at the core level of the cloud today,” he said.

The new file-system service will be available in the summer, Jassy said. It can scale to handle data volumes in excess of a petabyte, allowing it to deal with very large applications, he said. A petabyte can hold, for example, more than 10 years worth of continuous high-definition video.

The company also announced a new software marketplace for traditional business applications. This lets businesses rent software on a monthly basis and run it on virtual PCs made available by Amazon through a service named Workspaces, Jassy said. This compares with traditional software procurement, which involves contracts that last for years, he said.

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