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Google, partners launch new tools for Vertex AI ML platform

The tech giant released a series of new tools and applications, some with partners, for the automated machine learning platform it launched in May 2021.

Google introduced more tools for its Vertex AI machine learning platform and Google partners released new applications for Vertex AI.

The moves came on Tuesday, the first day of the Google Cloud Next 2021 conference.

Google launched the machine learning (ML) platform in May. Now customers are starting to develop, and some have released applications based on the platform's production-level automated machine learning capabilities.

Vertex AI Workbench

Google's main new tool for the ML platform is the Vertex AI Workbench, which is in preview. The workbench enables data scientists to build and deploy ML models faster.

Google said it integrated data engineering capabilities directly into the data science environment, enabling users to ingest and analyze data, and deploy and manage ML models, all from a single interface.

"Vertex AI in conjunction with Vertex AI Workbench will benefit data scientists to design and deploy machine learning models in a rapid fashion," said Sid Nag, an analyst at Gartner.

Google has developed application programming interfaces (APIs) for things like computer vision, language, structured data and conversation that enable a "rapid creation" machine learning model, Nag said.

Nag said the Vertex AI Workbench will further bolster Google's leading position in AI and put specialized AI vendors on notice

"The users of Google's competitors will have to make a choice on whether they continue to use these new AI capabilities from their primary provider or turn to Google," he continued. "In the end, the market is moving toward a multi-cloud approach where organizations are leveraging best-in-class capabilities from multiple cloud providers."

While this isn't setting a new standard in the AI industry, Nag said it enables enterprise users to use AI in a "more pervasive and pedestrian manner for everyday use cases as opposed to using and talking of AI in an esoteric manner which has not been done in the past."

Vertex AI Forecast

Meanwhile, Google partner O9 Solutions, vendor of an AI-based enterprise planning and operations platform, on Tuesday unveiled Vertex AI Forecast.

Screenshot of O9 Solutions Platform
With the Vertex AI Forecast, users can understand the relationship between machine product demand and promotions, pricing, competitive actions or weather.

The partnership with the tech giant began three years ago, but according to Igor Rikalo, president and COO of O9, the company closely started working and collaborating with Google Cloud a year ago.

The users of Google's competitors will have to make a choice on whether they continue to use these new AI capabilities from their primary provider or turn to Google.
Sid NagAnalyst, Gartner

Vertex AI Forecast -- out now in preview and expected to be generally available in the first quarter of 2022 -- uses machine learning models and data sets to understand the relationship between machine product demand and promotions, pricing, competitive actions, weather and Google Search trends. Users then deploy that data  to create forecasts that retail and consumer goods companies can use to make decisions about stock and sales strategies, while reducing administrative and logistic costs, Rikalo said.

Users will be able to access the cloud-based tool through an interface. Although the system automates predictions and forecasts about certain products, customers can still use human experts to augment the AI forecasting, Rikalo said.

"The majority of the time that is saved is due to users not having to hunt for data … and not having to select a specific algorithm that produces the best forecasting results," Rikalo continued.

He said that the cost for using AI Forecast depends on a variety of factors such as how many items will be forecast and how much the user plans to rely on the platform. And while other forecasting tools are already available, Rikalo said this product's AI expertise makes it stand out.

"In combination with a Google expertise …. in the field of artificial intelligence and in deep learning combined with our deep expertise in how the retail forecasting process should work resulted in the most advanced solution," Rikalo said.

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