Apache Spark 2.0 Preview, Google's Amazon Echo Rival: Big Data Roundup

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Apache Spark 2.0 preview is released for Databricks customers. Google preps a stationary personal assistant like Amazon Echo. MarkLogic revs up security and encryption. We have all this and more in our Big Data Roundup for the week ending May 15, 2016.

Apache Spark 2.0 is coming. Google preps a competitor to Amazon Echo, and gets clever with artificial intelligence (AI) and open source. MarkLogic updates security and adds the Optic API. We've got those all those stories, plus a look at something called the Animosity Index, in this week's Big Data Roundup

Let's start with the next big update to Apache Spark.

Spark is the new sweetheart of the big data world, offering real-time and streaming capabilities to massive amounts of data. This week, a couple of the big distributors of Spark -- Databricks and MapR -- announced plans to release an early version of Apache Spark 2.0.

In a Databricks blog, Reynold Xin said a preview of Apache Spark 2.0 is now available on the Databricks Community Edition.

[Read a classic big data use case: The Weather Company Brings Together Forecasting And IoT.]

"Since Spark 1.0 came out two years ago, we have heard prasies and complaints," Xin wrote. "Spark 2.0 builds on what we have learned in the past two years, doubling down on what users love and improving on what users lament."

Xin noted the official Apache Spark 2.0 release is still a few weeks away, but the technical preview provides early access to those who can't wait. The new version provides easier SQL and streamlined APIs (including unifying data frames and datasets in Scala/Java), performance optimizations that have made Spark up to 10 times faster depending on the task, and a smarter take on structured streaming through version 2.0's structured streaming APIs.

MapR released Apache Spark 1.6.1 on the MapR Converged Data Platform this week, too. "We have seen a significant customer adoption of Spark for building data pipelines and advanced analytics," said Anoop Dawar, VP of product management for Spark and Hadoop at MapR, in a prepared statement. MapR said the new release offers improved performance gains, persistence of machine learning pipelines, and a new experimental interface called Dataset API.

As developers get ready to head to Google I/O in the coming week, word on the street is that the technology giant is preparing to announce a competitor to Amazon Echo.

Amazon's home device acts as a stationary personal assistant, equipped with a speaker and microphone, which can perform voice interaction, music playback, weather reports, and more. Google is expected to unveil a rival to this device in the days ahead that will rely on spoken commands and queries to perform searches and seek assistance. No word on the official name of this device, but the internal code word is reportedly "Chip." Whatever the name, we hope Google comes up with something slightly catchier than "Google Now."

This past week, Google was focused more on the development back-end of its own artificial intelligence efforts. The company released SyntaxNet, it's natural language parsing framework, to open source. The technology is a neural network framework implemented in Google's Tensor Flow. It's designed to perform the tasks that human linguists do, such as tagging parts of speech, identifying syntactic dependencies, and sentence compression.

This NoSQL database company has been around for several years. It has been working closely with the healthcare vertical the past few years, and is part of the turnaround success story behind the Healthcare.gov site that implemented the Affordable Care Act.

Version 9 of the software increases security in several ways, including adding encryption to the core of the database. It also offers the new Optic API, which allows analysts to view data based on the problem at hand.

Finally this week, as we head into the home stretch of the US Presidential Primary races, it's not surprising that people are a little bit rattled. We may all be feeling a little bit angrier than usual.

To keep track of this, Logz.io has created the Animosity Index, a piece of its overall 2016 US Election Real-Time Dashboard. The Animosity Index tracks "the number of times the words 'f**k you' are tweeted to each candidate. Other indexes featured on the dashboard are The Liar Index, The Top Execution Topics Index, The Honesty Index, and The Trump Geo Index. That last measure provides the location of people who mention Trump's name or his Twitter handle in their tweets.

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