Interview: Is AI eating Data Infrastructure?

In November 2017, I met Christian Lorentz from NetApp during Cloud Expo in Frankfurt. Based on my experience, he wanted to find out if artificial intelligence (AI) is eating the data infrastructure.

Many big industry names are saying that AI is eating software. Is AI also eating the hardware?

Rene Buest: Perhaps a better way of looking at this one is asking: Is AI eating the IT admins? And the answer is yes, and no. Yes, AI is going to transform the jobs of today’s IT admins, because AI is going to automate a lot of tasks which have been done manually in the past. As an example, finding an anomaly in a multitude of log files is something that an AI systems can do better and faster than a human administrator. However, IT admins will be able to focus on tasks which are more valuable for the business. Instead of just keeping the lights on, IT professionals will be designing new solutions, looking into new trends, and bringing creative technical approaches into the business world. This is certainly a positive development.

What is the impact of AI on traditional infrastructure? How about on data?

Rene Buest: The next-generation infrastructure needs to be more autonomous, in order to support AI – I am talking about an AI-defined Infrastructure. Server-less infrastructure and containers, for example, are two of the technologies which it is imperative to make ”AI-ready”. With regards to data, AI does not only need a large quantity of data, but it does require adequate quality data. What I mean with that is, that good quality data is necessary to build a process in an AI system, as is the experience of specialists. Without the right data and expertise, AI cannot reliably learn and, ultimately, act autonomously in the most positive way.

How can enterprises and IT organizations prepare themselves to have an AI-ready data infrastructure?

Rene Buest: It is very easy. First of all, an organization needs to accept a continuous data flow as a foundation for its future strategies. This includes getting rid of data silos. To do this, organizations need to invest in open systems and open APIs. AI needs easy and secure access to data, independent of its location and format. Once this is ensured, AI then needs to be implemented to automate IT operations. Because every single piece of data that exists or is created inside an organization ends up being stored in the IT environment. Afterwards this can be expanded to other business processes by using knowledge of the organization gathered through IT automation , ultimately making more processes autonomous. Eventually, an organization could think about data-driven processes by using data, knowledge, experience and AI to generate outcome based processes like new business models, services or products. This is the execution path to an AI-enabled enterprise.

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The interview with Christian Lorentz was also published under “Is AI Eating Data Infrastructure? An Interview with Rene Buest“.

By Rene Buest

Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies.

Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn.