As Spark Summit Europe will take place in Dublin this month we talk to David Wyatt, VP and GM EMEA at Databricks to know more.
What is Spark Summit Europe?
Spark Summit Europe is the continent’s largest conference for the Apache Spark community. It’s also a place where data science, data engineering and analytics professionals come together to talk about business use cases related to analysing Big Data and creating Artificial Intelligence. The conference is run by Databricks, which is founded by the team that created Spark, and involves many other sponsoring technology companies including Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM.
When is it on?
Spark Summit Europe is taking place from the 24th of October, 2017 to the 26th. On the 24th, we have a full day of training workshops, while the 25th and 26th will be full of keynote presentations and sessions from companies that have deployed Apache Spark to help meet their challenges around analysing data.
How many years has it been going?
Spark Summit has been running since 2013 in the US and the European conference has been held annually since 2015. We are coming to Dublin after events in Brussels and Amsterdam. The community in Ireland has grown massively around Apache Spark, and it’s a great location for events in Europe too.
What was the inspiration to start it?
Apache Spark is an open source project designed for running analytics in distributed environments. The problem that people faced was around analysing data sets that would be larger than one machine could handle, so a cluster-based approach was required. A team at the University of California Berkeley developed Spark to deal with this problem and then donated this to the Apache Software Foundation so that it would be available to the community.
Today, Spark is behind some of the world’s largest big data processing projects internationally, and Spark Summit Europe provides the community with a chance to hear the latest developments and use cases. People are using Spark and Databricks’ Unified Analytics Platform for work around streaming analytics, machine learning and graph processing, and this event helps people apply those approaches themselves.
What exciting things can people look forward to for the 2017 version?
I’m excited at the new developments that are taking place in the community and the calibre of the presenters. Alongside our CEO and CTO presenting on their visions for the future of data and AI, there will also be presentations from the likes of CERN, Hotels.com, Salesforce and Shell. Hearing about how Spark is making a difference at these organisations will be great.
There will also be new product announcements and open source projects announced at the show. For developers, the event should be a great opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest big data projects.
What opportunities are on offer for people / startups / investors and companies attending?
There are tremendous learning opportunities at Spark Summit. For developers, the guidance on how to make the most of Spark through tuning and performance improvement should be really valuable. There’s also a lot of material on topics that appeal to data scientists, such as collaborative workspaces, machine learning and an easier approach to deep learning. For example, we’ve already sold out on how to integrate Spark with TensorFlow, a popular open source deep learning technology, so we can see there’s a huge amount of interest in these types of topics.
For companies investing in analytics, the mix of engineers, data scientists and line of business professionals attending will provide ample opportunities for networking, finding new talent around Spark, and pushing their use of these technologies onward.
What tips would you give to people attending to get the most out of it?
I think planning out your schedule to make the most of the presenters that are at the event will help. However, you should make time during the event for networking and getting into conversations too. Some of the most helpful opportunities take place around the conference schedule at the MeetUp events or networking sessions.
How can people book tickets / when does it usually sell out?
The event page is https://spark-summit.org/eu-2017/ and the registration page is available through the site. There should be some tickets available on the day, but the training sessions on day one normally sell out early.
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?
I think the purpose for Spark Summit is to help engineers, data scientists and line of business people collaborate on how they make use of data. For example, AI and machine learning projects are starting to prove their value, but it’s difficult for many companies to find and retain the talent that they need to run these projects in production. There’s a massive demand for data scientists in the technology sector, so it can be difficult for those in more traditional industries to recruit. Getting around this problem will be essential for AI and ML technologies to reach their full potential; events like Spark Summit will help spread the awareness of how to overcome some of the challenges that exist. It’s a really bright future for people working with these technologies.