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Microsoft Azure backs Elon Musk’s OpenAI to bring cloud closer to AI

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Microsoft has partnered with OpenAI, a non-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research organisation, to offer Azure as the primary cloud platform for various AI developments. The new partnership is another major step by the Redmond company to enable its cloud for open source developments.

OpenAI is a creation of leading entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Sam Altman. The prime aim of the organisation is to bring advances in AI research, where Azure fits as a backbone. The combination powers the research into deep learning and neural network fields.

“OpenAI chose Microsoft due to our deep learning research and ongoing commitment to AI, along with Azure’s support for open source technologies and its unique combination of high-performance computing, big data and intelligence capabilities such as Azure Batch, Azure Machine Learning and the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit,” writes Harry Shum, executive vice president of artificial intelligence and research group, Microsoft, in a blog post.

OpenAI is already set to use Azure N-Series virtual machines to support compute workloads and enables the training of neural networks. Additionally, the Musk-led company is planning to deploy not just one or two but “thousands to tens of thousands” of virtual machines through the latest partnership deal.

Why Azure?

AI developments are not exclusive to Microsoft Azure. However, its support for open source technologies apparently persuaded OpenAI to make it as the primary cloud platform.

Apart from OpenAI, Azure is being used by companies such as Esri and Jellyfish Pictures that are deploying advanced features on the cloud. Microsoft also recently introduced Azure Bot Service to enable developers to build intelligent bots on the cloud and play in a serverless environment.

Open source on front-foot

Alongside opting Azure, OpenAI has been hiring research engineers and scientists for its office in San Francisco. The company is supporting open culture using open source developments to take the present AI market to new levels.