Common Sense Computing For The Future

Today’s Featured BizSpark Startup is simMachines from St. Louis, Missouri, USA

There are plenty of predictive analytics companies out there but simMachines isn’t your run-of-the-mill company. Instead of just giving people predictions, this BizSpark startup focuses on the similarities inside the predictions – and how they should be used.

Arnoldo Muller-Molina might have been called a fortune teller a century ago but these days, he’s got the science and technology to back up his predictions. Founder and CEO of simMachines, a predictive analytics startup in the United States, Muller-Molina always wanted to build a company related to artificial intelligence.

“There are many different ways to solve data problems,” he says. “Similarity is one that allows you to think about data problems in a new way.”

A cloud-based solution designed to create predictive angels, SimMachines’ similarity search engine technology can index sets of data — in nearly any industry — to find patterns and trends for clients. That focus on finding similar items instead of finding identical items sets simMachines apart from other artificial intelligence companies. The startup is involved in projects from locating tumors in brain scans to helping retailers pinpoint which coupons and ads to send to customers.

Preferring to use open source software from the beginning, Muller-Molina built out the company’s server on Linux and uses Azure API to create new virtual servers. Microsoft Azure is also used for hosting, scalability and reliability.

“We provision and close the Azure virtual servers as needed,” he says.   

Muller-Molina has other reasons for selecting Azure. First, he appreciates the way he can have multiple instances (virtual machines) with automatic load balancing. The integration with so many open source software packages also sold him on Azure. In addition, Azure is from the most-used software company in the world.

“Using Azure is a strategic plan for us,” he says, “because we work with financial and other firms that use Microsoft products for their work. It really lowered the barrier of entry for us.”

On top of Linux, simMachines uses a Java and open source software supports various parts of the entire solutions.

Apache Zookeeper, for instance, is similar to a high-tech filing system. It’s a centralized service for maintaining coordinated systems. Kafka, also from Apache, is a high-throughput distributed messaging system that simMachines uses as its central data backbone. Dropwizard works with Java libraries to provide application metric, logging details and much more.

Any startup considering building in the cloud should, he says, consider the cloud service and support above all.

“Abstract your products so you are free to move to the best support,” he adds. “Azure has the best focus and reliability, which is critical for us. Stay with a vendor because of its high-quality service, too. We get that every day with Microsoft Azure.”

Arnoldo J. Muller Molina, simMachines CEO


Microsoft is helping these startups succeed through its BizSpark program. To join or see other startup stories, visit us at our website here.

About BizSpark: Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps startups succeed by giving free access to Microsoft Azure cloud services, software and support. BizSpark members receive up to $750 per month of free Microsoft Azure cloud services for 3 years: that’s $150 per month each for up to 5 developers. Azure works with Linux and open-source technologies such as Ruby, Python, Java and PHP. BizSpark is available to startups that are privately held, less than 5-years-old and earn less than $1M in annual revenue.