IBM Boosts Deep Learning Offerings with Anaconda Data Science Platform

Big Blue has announced that it is expanding its presence in the enterprise deep learning sector with the news that it is partnering with Continuum Analytics to offer the latter’s Anaconda platform for Open Data Science on IBM Cognitive Systems. Anaconda will be integrated with IBM’s PowerAI enterprise machine learning software package and distributed alongside it.

IBM said Anaconda will also integrate with the PowerAI software distribution for machine learning and deep learning so enterprises can take advantage of PowerAI performance and GPU (graphics processing unit) optimization for data intensive cognitive workloads.

Big Competition in Big Data

The agreement gives IBM another leg up in the fight to win business from data scientists and developers working on deep learning applications. Anaconda said it already has more than 16 million downloads. Offering the platform through IBM's Cognitive Systems unit will allow clients to quickly scale up the deep learning applications they develop using Anaconda.

The advent of big data has been a bonanza for IT providers aiming to provide enterprises and other organizations with the tools to identify patterns in large data sets to convert information to actionable intelligence. In particular, the demand for big data tools has driven research and development in deep learning, a subset of machine learning.

Deep learning makes it possible to process enormous datasets, sometimes with billions of discrete data points, to extract useful information and predictive models. "Deep learning is transforming the businesses of leading consumer Web and mobile application companies, and it is quickly being adopted by more traditional business enterprises as well," IBM said in a statement announcing its partnership with Continuum.

Simplifying Deep Learning App Deployment

IBM developed the PowerAI platform to encourage its enterprise clients to adopt open source machine and deep learning frameworks to build cognitive applications for their businesses. PowerAI reduces the complexity and risk involved in deploying those frameworks in an enterprise environment, while also customizing them for maximum performance, according to IBM.

The Anaconda platform, meanwhile, provides large-scale data processing, predictive analytics, and scientific computing capabilities to developers working on deep learning systems. The addition of Anaconda's capabilities should help simplify the management and deployment of deep learning applications.

Developers who had been working with open source components on the Anaconda platform will now also have access to PowerAI's deployment platform, and computing and graphics processing optimization provided by Nvidia. Nvidia provides both the GPU accelerators and the high-speed interface used by the PowerAI platform.

IBM has been pushing hard for the adoption of its Power Architecture technology ever since it opened the architecture up to other developers and launched the OpenPower Foundation in 2013 to collaborate with other companies on its design.

The group includes industry players, such as Google and Nvidia, and recently announced a new work group to help define frameworks for the development and deployment of machine learning solutions using OpenPower technology.