The Fifth Elephant 2017

On data engineering and application of ML in diverse domains

##Theme and format
The Fifth Elephant 2017 is a four-track conference on:

  1. Data engineering – building pipelines and platforms; exposure to latest open source tools for data mining and real-time analytics.
  2. Application of Machine Learning (ML) in diverse domains such as IOT, payments, e-commerce, education, ecology, government, agriculture, computational biology, social network analysis and emerging markets.
  3. Hands-on tutorials on data mining tools, and ML platforms and techniques.
  4. Off-the-record (OTR) sessions on privacy issues concerning data; building data pipelines; failure stories in ML; interesting problems to solve with data science; and other relevant topics.

The Fifth Elephant is a conference for practitioners, by practitioners.

Talk submissions are now closed.

You must submit the following details along with your proposal, or within 10 days of submission:

  1. Draft slides, mind map or a textual description detailing the structure and content of your talk.
  2. Link to a self-record, two-minute preview video, where you explain what your talk is about, and the key takeaways for participants. This preview video helps conference editors understand the lucidity of your thoughts and how invested you are in presenting insights beyond your use case. Please note that the preview video should be submitted irrespective of whether you have spoken at past editions of The Fifth Elephant.
  3. If you submit a workshop proposal, you must specify the target audience for your workshop; duration; number of participants you can accommodate; pre-requisites for the workshop; link to GitHub repositories and documents showing the full workshop plan.

##About the conference
This year is the sixth edition of The Fifth Elephant. The conference is a renowned gathering of data scientists, programmers, analysts, researchers, and technologists working in the areas of data mining, analytics, machine learning and deep learning from different domains.

We invite proposals for the following sessions, with a clear focus on the big picture and insights that participants can apply in their work:

  • Full-length, 40-minute talks.
  • Crisp, 15-minute talks.
  • Sponsored sessions, of 15 minutes and 40 minutes duration (limited slots available; subject to editorial scrutiny and approval).
  • Hands-on tutorials and workshop sessions of 3-hour and 6-hour duration where participants follow instructors on their laptops.
  • Off-the-record (OTR) sessions of 60-90 minutes duration.

##Selection Process

  1. Proposals will be filtered and shortlisted by an Editorial Panel.
  2. Proposers, editors and community members must respond to comments as openly as possible so that the selection processs is transparent.
  3. Proposers are also encouraged to vote and comment on other proposals submitted here.

Selection Process Flowchart

We will notify you if we move your proposal to the next round or reject it. A speaker is NOT confirmed for a slot unless we explicitly mention so in an email or over any other medium of communication.

Selected speakers must participate in one or two rounds of rehearsals before the conference. This is mandatory and helps you to prepare well for the conference.

There is only one speaker per session. Entry is free for selected speakers.

##Travel grants
Partial or full grants, covering travel and accomodation are made available to speakers delivering full sessions (40 minutes) and workshops. Grants are limited, and are given in the order of preference to students, women, persons of non-binary genders, and speakers from Asia and Africa.

##Commitment to Open Source
We believe in open source as the binding force of our community. If you are describing a codebase for developers to work with, we’d like for it to be available under a permissive open source licence. If your software is commercially licensed or available under a combination of commercial and restrictive open source licences (such as the various forms of the GPL), you should consider picking up a sponsorship. We recognise that there are valid reasons for commercial licensing, but ask that you support the conference in return for giving you an audience. Your session will be marked on the schedule as a “sponsored session”.

##Important Dates:

  • Deadline for submitting proposals: June 10
  • First draft of the coference schedule: June 20
  • Tutorial and workshop announcements: June 20
  • Final conference schedule: July 5
  • Conference dates: 27-28 July

For more information about speaking proposals, tickets and sponsorships, contact or call +91-7676332020.

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The Fifth Elephant - known as one of the best data science and Machine Learning conference in Asia - has transitioned into a year-round forum for conversations about data and ML engineering; data science in production; data security and privacy practices. more

Dharma Shukla


Lessons learned from building a globally distributed database service from the ground up

Submitted May 26, 2017

Dharma and his team has spent past 7 years to build Azure Cosmos DB ( - a massively scalable, multi-tenant, globally distributed database service from the ground up. The system they have built is currently operating across more than thirty-four geographical regions, managing hundreds of petabytes of indexed data, and serving 100s of trillions of requests every day from thousands of customers worldwide. The database system allows developers to elastically scale both, throughput and storage across any number of geographical regions on a single table. The service offers guaranteed single-digit millisecond low latency at 99the percentile, 99.99% high availability, predictable throughput, and multiple well-defined consistency models. The system is able to offer comprehensive SLAs for latency, availability, throughput and consistency and is used extensively within Microsoft and is available to external Azure customers since 2015. In this session, Dharma will describe the internals of the system design and various design trade-offs they had to make. He will also share his experiences from operating a globally distributed database service worldwide and maintaining comprehensive Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

The lessons I have learnt from building a globally distributed database can be applied to many distributed systems.

Some of the takeaways are:

  1. Well-defined, relaxed consistency models are really powerful in solving real world scenarios
  2. A system designed for cloud can be made to run really cheap if it is designed with resource governance in mind
  3. What does it mean to build multi-tenant applications? What are the challenges?
  4. Applications running on cloud deserve a globally distributed database.
  5. A globally distributed database != database with DR
    and many more..

Intended audience:
Application developers of all types, distributed systems practitioners, data engineers, system integrators and consultants.


  1. What does it mean to build a database that leverages the strengths of cloud?
  2. Horizontal partitioning
  3. Elastically scaling throughput (vs. storage) worldwide
  4. Resource governance and fine grained multi-tenancy
  5. Global distribution of data for low latency
  6. Global distribution of data for high availability
  7. Navigating the speed of light
  8. Navigating the CAP theorem
  9. Consistency Models - finding the right shade of grey!
  10. Why hosting on-premises databases (SQL or NoSQL) cannot offer the lowest TCO and best SLAs?
  11. What does it take to offer and maintain comprehensive SLAs for consistency, latency and throughput and availability.
  12. Operating a globally distributed database service, worldwide
  13. Insights from the production workloads
  14. Conclusions


Familiarity with databases, cloud and challenges to build a scalable applications.

Speaker bio

Dharma Shukla is a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft. Dharma is also the founder of Azure Cosmos DB ( - a globally distributed, multi-tenant database service on Azure. Prior to working on the current system, his work spanned a range of distributed systems and databases at Microsoft and other places.



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Hosted by

The Fifth Elephant - known as one of the best data science and Machine Learning conference in Asia - has transitioned into a year-round forum for conversations about data and ML engineering; data science in production; data security and privacy practices. more