Microsoft, AWS Lead Cloud AI Developer Services Assessments — Visual Studio Magazine


Microsoft, AWS Lead Cloud AI Developer Services Assessments

Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) led a host of vendors in an assessment of cloud AI developer services published by research firm Gartner.

In the company’s Magic Quadrant report that separates vendors into four sections for Leaders, Visionaries, Niche Players and Challengers along the axes of “Ability to Execute” and “Completeness of Vision “, Microsoft was highest on the latter axis while AWS topped the “ability to execute” axis.

In defining and describing the subject of the report, Gartner stated, “Cloud AI Development Services (CAIDS) are cloud-hosted or containerized services that enable development teams and non-scientific business users data to use artificial intelligence (AI) models via APIs, software development kits (SDKs) or applications to help these users provide services with capabilities in the areas of machine learning (autoML), language and vision, for example, natural language understanding (NLU), sentiment analysis, image recognition, and machine learning (ML) model pipeline services.”

“We are proud to be recognized for our Azure AI platform,” Microsoft said in a blog post. Publish this week about the report.

This Azure AI The platform includes a portfolio of AI services designed for developers and data scientists, helping them leverage high-quality AI models for vision, speech, language, and decision making via simple API calls, while enjoying the ability to deploy their own machine learning models using tools like Jupyter Notebooks, Visual Studio Code, and open source frameworks like TensorFlow and PyTorch.

As shown in the chart below, the other vendors in the “Leaders” section are Google and IBM.

Magic Quadrant for Cloud AI Development Services
[Click on image for larger view.] Magic Quadrant for Cloud AI Development Services (source: Gartner).

Noting that Microsoft has been dubbed a “Leader,” the report states, “Its Azure AI platform offers a comprehensive offering for all three use cases: language, vision, and autoML. Microsoft’s operations are global and it has customers across industries. Its services can be consumed by professional developers through APIs and SDKs, and by citizen developers through Microsoft Power Platform Microsoft leads the industry in enterprise-grade properties, such as integration, scalability, performance, security, privacy, transparency, explainability and responsible use of AI.”

For the highlights of Microsoft’s offering, the research firm listed:

  • Business model: Microsoft differentiates its AI development services by making it easy for professional programmers and citizen developers to use ML, language, and vision services in their applications. Microsoft’s internal use of CAIDS across its product lines provides a distinct advantage, allowing it to improve quality and time to market faster than its competitors.
  • Sales Execution: Microsoft competes with the most nimble vendors in this market by offering its AutoML functionality for free and charging for compute and storage. To serve customers with a high volume of AI workloads, Microsoft is introducing an “Engagement Tier”. This option (currently in public preview) will offer a lower unit price but will require constant usage commitment. Microsoft also invests heavily in sales engineering. Its AI solutions architects, also known as AI rangers, are dedicated to delivering proof of concept success and deployment.
  • Market responsiveness and history: Microsoft has democratized AI development by making it easy for fusion teams to consume AI in a safe and responsible way. The company relies on and contributes to many open source community projects. It has continuously improved its services in 2021, with more than 30 launches, including major feature releases. Additionally, Microsoft is encouraging developers to engage in its market by reducing commissions to 3% (down from the industry average of 20%).

The caveats, meanwhile, included:

  • Geographic strategy: Microsoft offers its full portfolio of services in the Americas, but does not offer all of these services elsewhere. Prospective customers should determine whether Microsoft offers and supports the services they need in their region.
  • Client experience: Customer sentiment for Microsoft is lower than other leaders in this Magic Quadrant. Potential customers should insist on a firm commitment to Microsoft’s service beyond the initial sale.
  • Product or service: To continue to deliver a strong product, Microsoft must keep pace with its competitors in terms of targeting new hardware platforms and accelerators. It must also provide innovations in feature engineering, such as mixed-mode feature generation. Its lack of synthetic image generation is another limitation.

Looking ahead, Gartner sees good things for the market in general.

“We predict that by 2025, 70% of new internally developed applications will incorporate AI or ML-based models,” the report said. “CAIDS provides developers with the autoML capabilities they need to create and customize ML models for their applications. These ML models can classify information, predict trends, assess risk, automate processes, and improve a business in all functional areas and workflows.

“Software engineering teams use ML models to create compelling apps by adding or enhancing the functionality of existing apps and creating entirely new types of apps.”

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

Margie D. Carlisle