- Industry, suppliers and partners like the idea, says national ICT custodian
- Microsoft launches SQL Server 2016, takes battle to competitors’ doorstep
MALAYSIA'S national ICT custodian the Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) plans to launch its proposed Asean Data Analytics Exchange (Adax) by the end of this year, aimed at boosting big data analytics adoption by businesses.
“Currently, it is still at the conceptual stage now. We are planning to launch it towards end of the year,” MDeC director of innovation capital Dr Karl Ng Kah Hou told the media at the launch of Microsoft Corp’ SQL Server 2016 in Kuala Lumpur recently (see below).
“We have received a good response so far. The industry really wants this; the suppliers, the partners really want this,” he declared.
According to Ng, MDeC is currently looking at suitable places to set up the Adax, which will come with a big data lab, training centre, and other facilities.
“Basically, companies can come bring their own data to the lab, where they can actually use a sandbox to get insights out of that data, with the help of data scientists,” he said.
“A platform like this will ease the adoption of big data analytics. Suppliers and companies which want to adopt big data analytics can come to a place where they can actually experiment and do this, at a low cost, before deciding to invest more.
“It will also be a place to get your people trained as well,” he added.
Building the foundation
Ng (pic) said MDeC has been working on various initiatives to strengthen the foundation for Malaysia to realise its big data analytics (BDA) ambition, which is to become the regional hub for BDA.
These efforts include getting more open data sets and building up use cases.
More open data sets would allow the private sector to use government data to potentially derive more value and insights, and even develop solutions.
More use cases would give companies a better understanding of how BDA can benefit them.
“Data science is useless if you don’t have data,” said Ng.
“The Government owns a lot of data sets, so we have been working very closely with the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu) to look at open data sets and to make them available for all.
“We are also working with the UK-based Open Data Institute to provide new capabilities on open data to the Malaysian Government.
“As a result, the number of data sets has increased tremendously – last year, it went from 140 data sets to over 900 data sets,” he said.
A key issue with such initiatives is the shortage of talent, and to address this, MDeC is working with several parties to boost the number of data scientists and data professionals in the country.
According to Ng, at least three universities will start offering undergraduate degree courses with a data science specialisation this year, on top of the five that are already offering similar programmes.
Meanwhile, four universities will start offering data science-related post-graduate, masters and PhD programmes this year.
“This year, our focus is really to drive the adoption of BDA, as we basically have created a strong foundation by growing the talent pool, increasing open data sets and use cases,” said Ng.
SQL Server 2016 launched
Meanwhile, Microsoft also launched the latest version of its SQL Server database management software, which Microsoft Malaysia chief marketing and operating officer Michal Golebiewski (pic) declared would help enterprises and organisations meet the challenges of digital transformation.
Businesses are transforming themselves and entire industries are being reinvented, and “central to this revolution are three major trends: Cloud computing, BDA, and intelligence,” he said.
Microsoft is taking the battle right to its rivals’ doorstep, offering SQL Server 2016 for free to customers currently using solutions from competitors such as Oracle and Teradata. The offer is valid until end-June.
“We will give them a free SQL Server 2016 licence, but they still have to subscribe to the Microsoft Software Assurance,” said Golebiewski.
Despite its aggressive marketing strategy, he acknowledged that it is unlikely to create a flood of migration over the short-term.
“Migration is not done by just installing software. It takes time to automate another analytics solution,” he admitted.
SQL Server 2016 has several key new features, including stretch database technology which allows customers to ‘stretch’ warm and cold data to Azure so that they are always accessible. Cold data is data that is hardly accessed, while warm data is used quite frequently. Hot data is data that is used constantly.
SQL Server 2016 also features advanced analytics using the new R computing environment, which allow customers to do real-time predictive analytics on both operational and analytic data. R is an open source initiative born out of Microsoft’s 2014 acquisition of Revolution Analytics.
MDeC’s 2020 vision to make Malaysia a regional BDA hub
Malaysia’s BDA challenge: Talent and open data
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