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By James Kobielus (@jameskobielus)
Data scientists are key programmers in the new era of big-data and cognitive-computing applications. They specialize in those business problems that are addressed in whole or in part through with statistical analysis.
As with any programmer, a data scientist’s core job is to specify the structured, repeatable logic that drives business computing applications. The key practical difference between data scientists and other programmers is that the former specify execution logic that is grounded in probabilistic application patterns. By contrast, traditional programmers specify deterministic application logic, such as if/then/else, case-based and other rules that were deduced from functional analysis of some problem domain.
Data scientists do statistical analysis, which is all about probabilities and uncertainties. An application instantiates a probabilistic pattern when its execution rules incorporate statistical models that are grounded in uncertain inputs (e.g., customer behavioral propensities revealed from historical data) and/or uncertain outcomes (e.g., customer likelihood of accepting specific offers over others within various circumstances).
In keeping with this professional focus, most data scientists use statistically oriented languages, such as especially R, and other analytic modeling tools such as SAS, SPSS and Matlab. In addition, some data scientists may also use probabilistic programming languages, such as those discussed in this recent article.
Probabilistic programming is an emerging new approach that is still unfamiliar to many working data scientists. These specialized languages facilitate the specification of Bayesian reasoning in the programming of machine-learning models for applications with uncertain data or outcomes. To enable this, the languages include operators for inferring probability distributions from uncertain data sets. The languages may support estimation of distributions via sampling; direct computation of them via value flow analysis and other techniques; and/or inference of distribution in spite of the absence of key variables, via machine learning and other approaches.
In a world where more application logic is derived–aka “learned”–at run time from probabilistic patterns found in multistructured data, probabilistic programming is indispensable. Cognitive computing applications, in particular, depend on probabilistic programming to specify, for example, how user experience (UX) interfaces should dynamically adjust to reflect changes in users’ browsing behavior, sentiments, intentions, locations, and myriad other situational variables. Every one of these variables is probabilistic in isolation, and in combination their shifting mosaic may render it build apriori UX logic that optimizes each user’s satisfaction under ever possible dynamic circumstance.
If you’re a working data scientist, you need to incorporate probabilistic programming into your core repertoire. Here’s a good technical paper on the topic for data scientists and other programmers who want to bootstrap their understanding without delay.
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Do you think Apple’s biometric data will be secure? Find out in this week’s roundup.
1. Apple eyes cloud storage for Touch ID biometric data – Rob Wright (SearchCloudSecurity)
According to a new patent application, Apple is looking to expand its Touch ID biometric verification system through the cloud. But will the biometric data be secure?
2. Video key to future of Web conferencing services future – Katherine Finnell (SearchUnifiedCommunications)
Millennials, mobile workers driving changes in organizations’ attitudes and usage of Web conferencing services, study shows.
3. FTC urges vendors to create Internet of Things security and privacy controls – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)
An FTC report urges vendors to be proactive in creating Internet of Things security and privacy controls, while a Tripwire survey shows IoT devices are a growing corporate risk.
4. Private Docker repositories add to Google containers push – Trevor Jones (SearchCloudComputing)
Private Docker repositories are available through the Google Container Registry — a move to help secure and deploy private container images.
5. Survey: Big data projects sneak up on basic BI on IT priority list – Ed Burns (SearchBusinessAnalytics)
TechTarget’s 2015 IT Priorities Survey shows that while businesses are still investing in basic BI and data warehousing capabilities, big data initiatives are becoming almost as prevalent.
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What has been the biggest success in Microsoft Windows history? Find out in this week’s roundup.
1. Microsoft Windows history: A 30-year timeline – Diana Hwang (SearchEnterpriseDesktop)
Microsoft celebrates 30 years of the Windows operating system when it ships Windows 10 this fall. Here’s a look at Windows history — bumps and all.
2. IBM’s revenues continue their journey south – Ed Scannell (SearchDataCenter)
IBM’s financial woes continue as the company reports down revenues for 2014 with its server hardware business leading the downward trend.
3. Report: Popularity of biometric authentication set to spike – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)
Juniper Research claims that the popularity of biometric authentication will rise dramatically in the next five years, incorporating innovative technology beyond today’s fingerprint sensors and voice authentication systems.
4. Polycom RealPresence updates include new audio and visual features – Gina Narcisi (SearchUnifiedCommunications)
Polycom has announced new audio and video enhancements to improve the user experience of video conferencing.
5. 2015 outlook in information technology: Growth and more cloud services – Mark Schlack (SearchCIO)
The 2015 outlook for information technology includes higher budgets and an emphasis on cloud, according to TechTarget’s annual IT priorities survey.
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Can IBM’s SoftLayer lure customers away from AWS? Check out this week’s roundup to find out.
1. IBM SoftLayer IaaS stands up to AWS with free support, networking – Beth Pariseau (SearchCloudComputing)
IBM’s SoftLayer IaaS offers low-cost networking and free support, tempting some customers away from AWS.
2. Microsoft patches one critical flaw, rolls out new notification process – Toni Boger and Jeremy Stanley (SearchWindowsServer)
January saw a light Patch Tuesday, but Microsoft’s move to discontinue its advance notification service has rankled security researchers.
3. Riverbed appliance heads to the cloud – Antone Gonsalves (SearchNetworking)
Riverbed’s new WAN optimization appliance is aimed at companies with hybrid environments in which applications stretch from the data center to the cloud.
4. Preview of 2015 Verizon PCI report hints at firewall compliance issues – Eric Parizo (SearchSecurity)
In a sneak preview of its 2015 PCI Compliance Report, Verizon says improper firewall maintenance is among the leading causes of PCI DSS compliance failures.
5. CIOs beef up security tools in wake of 2014 data breaches – Dina Gerdeman (SearchCIO)
What’s different about security strategies in the aftermath of the 2014 data breaches? More money, more monitoring, more employee training, and that’s just for starters.
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Will future customers be turned off by Verizon Cloud’s downtime this past weekend? Find out in this week’s roundup.
1. Verizon Cloud off to rocky start with 48-hour downtime – Trevor Jones (SearchCloudComputing)
Verizon Cloud will be down for up to 48 hours this weekend. But with a relatively small customer base, the biggest impact could be on future customers.
2. Sony Pictures hack recap: Experts debate North Korea’s role – Sharon Shea (SearchSecurity)
News roundup: The FBI maintains North Korea was behind the Sony Pictures hack, in spite of naysayers. Plus: Malware campaign attributed to Russia; new Mac OS X bootkit; cyberattack causes physical damage.
3. AWS Spot Instances get two-minute warning – Beth Pariseau (SearchAWS)
The new two-minute warning is a positive move for IT pros using Spot Instances, but some would like to see more changes to the bidding system.
4. International CES 2015: IoT, wearables and robots ready for takeoff – Francesca Sales (SearchCIO)
Will 2015 be the year the Internet of Things takes hold in the enterprise? International CES 2015 attendees took to Twitter to share their observations and predictions about IoT, wearables and even robots.
5. CES 2015: How Intel aims to power the tech revolution – Clare McDonald (ComputerWeekly)
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich told the International CES audience that 2015 will be the year of the next wave of consumer technology.
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By James Kobielus (@jameskobielus)
The typical organization has more information than they know what to do with, a phenomenon that many refer to as “dark data.”
This recent article is typical of how this topic is often discussed. Author Ed Tittel alludes to the potential of “dark data” as a business resource. However, he comes down primarily on the “dark threats” side of the equation. “[E]ven untapped and neglected,” he states, “dark data can pose security risks should it fall into the wrong hands, or range outside its owner’s control.”
To Tittel’s credit, he provides a comprehensive discussion of the risks of failing to protect this “dark” resource, examining the legal, regulatory, competitive, and reputational downsides. But he seems to be compelled by this risk-centric approach to spin a negative from what would otherwise be a positive: the data’s potential business utility. If the data were left exposed, he states, “given that the organization has decided not to invest in analysis and mining of dark data by definition, concerted efforts by third parties to exploit its value represent potential losses of intelligence and value based upon its contents.”
That’s a convoluted way of expressing a no-brainer: you’ve chosen to leave your data “dark” because you lack a business case strong enough to justify shining the proverbial analytical light on it. Lacking a viable business-value narrative for that data, you’ve forced yourself into a defensive posture: keeping it out of others’ hands lest they leverage it for useful purposes the likes of which you’ve failed to identify.
This represents a vicious circle of cost and risk. The data-protection burden becomes the perennial “dark” cloud of cost overhead enshrouding your “dark” data resource. The way to end the vicious circle is by ridding yourself of the notion that any data is “dark.” Whenever it sticks its shadowy head into the picture, that term puts a risk spin on what might otherwise be a business-value discussion. You should regard this data as simply an undiscovered resource. It can yield value if you make the requisite investments in tools, platforms, personnel, and business applications.
Of course, nothing can stop smart people from using any analytical tool and correlating any data at their disposal to make brilliant inferences. If the core data they covet remains “dark,” smart people (e.g., data scientists) will use all their ingenuity and tooling to infer what they’re lacking, perhaps with a high degree of confidence.
This is the essence of sleuthing, which is a skill that many people are using advanced analytics to accelerate. Dark patterns have a way of revealing themselves to the determined mind.
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What Microsoft news controlled the headlines in 2014? Find out in this week’s roundup.
1. Microsoft news dominates top 10 desktop developments of 2014 – Eugene Demaitre (SearchEnterpriseDesktop)
Thanks to Windows and Office developments, Microsoft news was among our most popular coverage of the past year. See which articles came out on top.
2. Put these goals into action in the coming year – Meredith Courtemanche (SearchDataCenter)
Forget the gym and eating healthy. These New Year’s resolutions from fellow data center professionals will give you goals that you can achieve in 2015.
3. Report: Chick-Fil-A data breach affects locations nationwide – Eric Parizo (SearchSecurity)
The popular fast-food chain has suffered what may be a massive, months-long payment card data breach that likely dates back as far as December 2013.
4. CIO of UN talks politics and the limits of big data – Linda Tucci (SearchCIO)
Atti Riazi, chief information technology officer and Assistant Secretary-General at the U.N., chats with SearchCIO’s Linda Tucci about drawing inferences from big data.
5. Storage trends 2014: Hyper-converged, flash and cloud dominate news – Dave Raffo (SearchStorage)
Hyper-converged, all-flash and cloud storage formed a three-legged stool of dominant storage news in 2014; Symantec stunner added an element of surprise.
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What should we expect from the cloud in 2015? Here’s this week’s roundup.
1. Experts forecast the 2015 cloud computing market – SearchCloudComputing staff (SearchCloudComputing)
From price wars to new tools and services, the cloud market was buzzing in 2014. Will it be the same in 2015? Our cloud experts share their predictions.
2. What does the desktop virtualization market hold for 2015? – Margaret Jones (SearchVirtualDesktop)
DaaS, BYOD and Linux support made the experts’ list of the big trends of 2014, and they hope the pain points associated with those technologies will find solutions in the coming year.
3. Exchange Server experts shed light on 2015 – Toni Boger (SearchExchange)
We asked three experts what Exchange Server changes to expect in 2015. Here are their forecasts of what’s coming to an email platform near you.
4. What were your biggest information technology regrets of 2014? – Brian Holak (SearchCIO)
No IT strategy is perfect. In this #CIOChat recap, participants look back on 2014 and reveal their biggest information technology regrets of the year.
5. At Oracle CloudWorld Boston, Oracle eyes a bigger place in the cloud – Jessica Sirkin (SearchOracle)
At Oracle CloudWorld in Boston, Oracle exec Shawn Price and consultant R “Ray” Wang discussed cloud computing trends that the vendor is looking to capitalize on as user adoption grows.
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What do server virtualizaton, VMware and data center operations have in store for us in 2015? Find out in this week’s roundup.
1. Server virtualization trends and predictions for 2015 – Advisory Board (SearchServerVirtualization)
What’s in store for server virtualization next year? This month, we’re asking our Advisory Board members for their 2015 predictions.
2. Anticipation builds for enriched storage capabilities in vSphere 6 – Tom Walat (SearchVMware)
As VMware gains traction outside of the server virtualization space, what are some of the coming attractions that have IT professionals excited?
3. Top 10 DaaS, VDI news stories of 2014 – Margaret Jones (SearchVirtualiDesktop)
Desktop as a service, GPU and application publishing dominated virtualization news in 2014. Take a look back and catch up on what happened with Microsoft, Citrix and VMware.
4. 2015 data center operations trends: Integration, efficiency – Chuck Moozakis (SearchNetworking)
451 Research Chief Analyst Eric Hanselman discusses the trends he sees for data center operations in the next 12 months.
5. Backup 2014: Acquisitions, spinoffs and cloud-to-cloud emerge – Ed Hannan (SearchDataBackup)
Backup 2014 included breakups as Symantec divorced itself, acquisition as EMC picked up cloud-to-cloud backup and additions as Hitachi Data Systems got into disk backup.
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What should we expect from the IT world in 2015? Find out in this week’s roundup.
1. Enterprise mobile experts offer 2015 IT forecast – Jake O’Donnell (SearchConsumerization)
This year saw shifts in enterprise mobility, with management moving from devices to apps and data. Experts tell us what to expect in 2015.
2. Geek gift ideas for the IT pros on your list – Beth Pariseau (SearchDataCenter)
Stumped when it comes to buying the latest gadgets for geeks? Have no fear — our experts are here with their wish lists to offer some suggestions.
3. Last Patch Tuesday of 2014 brings fixes for IE, Office – Toni Boger and Jeremy Stanley (SearchWindowsServer)
Microsoft’s last set of security fixes for the year brought critical fixes for Microsoft Office, VBScript and Internet Explorer.
4. Spanning Cloud Apps’ channel outlook following acquisition by EMC – Lynn Haber (SearchITChannel)
Spanning Cloud Apps was bought by EMC two months ago. The company’s vice president of sales explains what that will mean to channel partners.
5. AWS, Google cloud performance beat by unlikely competitor – Beth Pariseau (SearchAWS)
Cloud service providers go head-to-head in independent benchmark tests of network throughput and latency — and the results may surprise you.