How the cloud computing market relies on artificial intelligence

The cloud is one of the most prominent tech buzzwords of the last decade. But as companies and services increasingly rely on a handful of cloud providers to keep their business running, the market has moved from hosting to something more complicated.

The tech behind Amazon's recommendation features -- the product lists showing "Customers who bought this item also bought," and so on -- was key to the company's early growth and a delight even for its founder. Now, it's now for sale.

Bundled with other Amazon cloud services, personalized recommendation features are a sign of how much the cloud computing market is expanding. Today, providers don't just sell data storage. They increasingly sell technology that would normally give them a market advantage.

Last year, the New York Times interviewed a researcher who predicted that large corporations will increasingly outsource their technologies to the cloud service providers:

John Dinsdale, chief analyst at Synergy Research, predicted that the cloud giants will get bigger and capture a steadily rising share of corporate technology spending — especially as they add new capabilities, like machine learning and artificial intelligence, to their services.

These technologies all share a base in AI and machine learning, but are too expensive for most companies to develop. Cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are betting they'll make ideal business products.

In some cases, cloud providers promise to replicate the features that made their own companies so successful:

Other services are aimed at making inventory management and data recognition more efficient:

  • Amazon, Microsoft and Google sell services for facial and pattern recognition in images, video, audio and text.
  • Microsoft's own Azure Kinect camera, a rebuilt version of their discontinued Xbox gaming camera, was recently released for enterprise use. Its depth camera can be taught to recognize inventory items, be an aid in surgery, or help recognize faces.

Other features are more abstract:

  • All three also offer Internet of Things services to connect physical sensors-- like temperature gauges, smart locks, home appliances, machine parts, inventory tags, etc.-- to applications and dashboards for tracking and remote control.


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