New at Civo Navigate: Making Machine Learning Set up Faster
TAMPA, Fla. — Of the time it takes to set up a machine learning project, 60% is actually spent performing infrastructure engineering tasks.
That compares to 20% doing data engineering, Civo Chief Innovation Officer Josh Mesout, who has launched 300 machine learning (ML) models in the past two and a half years, said at the Civo Navigate conference here on Tuesday.
Civo hopes to simplify machine learning infrastructure with a new managed service offering, Kubeflow as a Service, which it says will improve the developer experience and reduce the time and resources required to gain insights from machine learning algorithms.
Civo’s Machine Learning Proposition
The Kubernetes cloud provider is betting that developers don’t want to deal with the infrastructure piece of the ML puzzle. So its new offering will run the infrastructure for ML as a managed service, while supporting open source tools and frameworks. It believes this will make ML more accessible to smaller organizations, which it said are often priced out of ML due to economies of scale.
It’s an interesting proposition since Mesout also argued that machine learning typically deploys on-premise rather than in the cloud.
“The common misconception — I have strong and long arguments with people on this — is that machine learning doesn’t end up in the cloud,” he said. “It ends up on-premise … The reason for that is that clouds’ elastic type of workload is great for service modeling, but if you’re going to scale your machine learning to the point where you’ve got 100,000 people putting it out there, you probably never get it done.”
It also is difficult to justify from a return on investment perspective, whereas ROI on-premise “makes a lot of sense,” he said.
Addressing Security Concerns
Companies have also expressed security concerns about ML and data, according to an Anaconda survey cited by Mesout. The other piece of the puzzle is that companies don’t want more proprietary options: They want open source tooling, he said, because it gives them more autonomy by avoiding vendor lock-in and because the economics are better, he added.
Finally, companies say they haven’t used the cloud because, they claim, it’s too difficult to hook up ML projects to other architectures, Mesout added.
“As a cloud native company, we love the concept of Kubernetes to overcome that,” he said. “We’ve looked a lot of different ways when we’re trying to solve a problem and we think backing open source, instead of fighting against it and building closed source proprietary tool ecosystem, is the solution.”
Often in the cloud, companies are paying for 100% of GPU while machine learning models may only be using 24%. So Civo is looking at lowering cost by 20% to help companies make money on their ML projects, he added.
The company is also working with Defense.com for security, he added. It also will offer an integrated development environment and support core Kubeflow components.
Kubeflow as a Service is currently in private alpha.
Civo Platform for Developers
One of the complaints expressed at the conference was that Kubernetes tooling is currently too “in the weeds” for developers, who want more abstracted and, frankly, friendlier tools. Fifty-four percent of developers view the complexity of Kubernetes as slowing them down, said Dinesh Majrekar, Civo’s chief technology officer (pictured above).
Civo announced its new Civo Platform, a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering that purports to address that need. The platform offers developers an “affordable, flexible and scalable framework for running and developing applications in the cloud,” the company stated in a press release. Each managed Civo platform application is deployed to its own Kubernetes cluster, Majrekar said.
The new PaaS incorporates a Software Bill of Materials tool that allows users to produce a verified record of all components within the software. (In May 2021, the Biden administration issued an Executive Order requiring SBOMs to be provided for any software purchased by or used on behalf of the U.S. government.)
The problem with PaaS offerings, however, is the project can outgrow the platform, leaving developers to face rebuilding somewhere else. To ensure that doesn’t happen on its platform, Majrekar said, Civo supports easily switching from the PaaS to a fully managed Kubernetes service with the click of a button.
New Open Source Standard Proposed
Civo also announced Open Control Plane, or OpenCP, which it hopes to make an open source specification. It includes YAML stack specifications well as the ability to use Kubectl to interact with cloud providers. Majrekar told The New Stack that, if adopted, users would be able to switch cloud providers without rebuilding.
For instance, a network is called a “VPC ” on Amazon Web Services but a “network” on Civo. An end user could use the term “network” and the cloud provider would adjust based on the standard. It also does not rely on plugins, he added.
“We don’t want to hold your data for ransom,” Majrekar said. “There’s no egress charges for your data.”
The company is hoping other cloud providers will feel the same way, as it plans to promote the standard to them.
Civo also announced a new on-premise option called CivoStack at the Edge. It will be shipped to end-user companies for on-premise use and will incorporate security, be available in multiple sizes and provide automated atomic backups, which means it will continue a backup if not successful the first time. It uses Role Based Access Control (RBAC) based APIs for access, and the same hardware and the simplicity of Civo’s public cloud, Majrekar added.
Finally, Civo revealed its Edge Manage offering, which is a cloud-based solution to manage on-premise, Internet of Things devices. Edge Manage is Talos-based and priced at a per-device cost.
Related to the edge offering, the company is planning to expand its data center to more regions, so clusters and data will be closer to end users. It currently works out of London, New York and Frankfurt, Germany, with an expansion planned in Phoenix.
Civo paid for Loraine Lawson’s travel and accommodations to attend the conference.