Artificial intelligence is certain to affect IT infrastructure in a big way, but it seems that most of the immediate changes will take place on the cloud long before they seep into the enterprise data center.
The simple fact that cloud providers earn their pay by offering the most advanced data architectures on the planet all but ensures that the race to put AI technology in front of customers will be fast and furious over the next few years. But the challenge isn’t simply to deploy the best technology, but to make that technology relevant to the needs of the enterprise.
The latest entrant in the “AI wars,” as some people are already calling it, is China’s Huawei. At its Huawei Connect event in Shanghia this week, the company rolled out its new Enterprise Intelligence (EI) service through which it intends to launch a wide range of digital enterprise solutions. According to IT Pro Portal, the aim is to target key pain points in logistics, data mining and other areas with tools ranging from machine learning and graphical analysis, augmented with AI-driven training, reasoning and indexing to provide faster turnaround and more detailed solutions than existing digital platforms. At the same time, the company is looking to provide general AI services like visual and voice recognition and natural language processing to revamp the way workers interact with technology.
This effort should also benefit from a newly expanded partnership with Microsoft that will bring more of Redmond’s enterprise apps to the Huawei cloud. Huawei already provides key products like Windows Server and Microsoft RDS for SQL Server, and the new agreement is expected to cover more of Microsoft’s productivity suite, including Office and Exchange. At the same time, it lays the foundation for future cooperation as Microsoft readies its own set of real-time AI solutions under the recently announced Project Brainwave.
This kind of cloud-to-cloud AI-sharing is likely to become commonplace as the market evolves. Storage service Box recently tapped Google’s Cloud Vision portfolio to enable customers to enable deep analysis of their data files. The company will use Cloud Vision’s machine learning and image recognition tools to build metadata and target relationships between data points in ways that are both faster and more accurate that today’s manual processes. In this way, organizations will be able to extract more information from their data, particularly image files, and automatically assign keywords and other markers to provide easier access to business processes and applications. Box is also working with Microsoft to utilize the Azure cloud’s Cognitive Services tools for services like video indexing and discovery.
And Oracle is hard at work bringing AI capabilities to its IoT cloud portfolio. The company is looking to up the game for functions like supply chain management, factory automation and field worker connectivity by initiating predictive insights and other capabilities to customers’ digital assets. The upgrades include the Digital Thread addition to the company’s IoT Cloud that provides an end-to-end view of the manufacturing lifecycle, as well as the Digital Twin supply chain solution that provides digital representations of real objects to enable deep analysis of operational and performance-related characteristics in both real and projected scenarios. Other tools being augmented by AI include the Smart Connected Factory that helps streamline manufacturing processes, and Digital Fleet Management that provides shipping and logistics analysis.
With an AI-infused cloud, the enterprise should find that the data challenges that look daunting at the moment will prove to be less so in actual practice. And ultimately, this will be a key driver in the steadily increasing reliance on public clouds as the new decade unfolds – not that organizations will be migrating existing workloads to a greater extent, but that new cloud-native workflows that can only be managed by AI will start to influence the business model.
At the moment, public cloud providers are pushing AI services to the enterprise, but it won’t be long before the business world has gained enough experience with the technology to start building its own intelligent service portfolios across hybrid architectures.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.