Artificial intelligence is coming. Is your data center ready?
Over the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) technology has improved dramatically, and many industry analysts say AI will disrupt enterprise IT significantly in the near future.
For example, IDC forecasts that worldwide spending on cognitive systems and AI will climb from $8 billion in 2016 to more than $47 billion in 2020. "Software developers and end user organizations have already begun the process of embedding and deploying cognitive/artificial intelligence into almost every kind of enterprise application or process," David Schubmehl, a research director at IDC, said in a statement.
"Identifying, understanding, and acting on the use cases, technologies, and growth opportunities for cognitive/AI systems will be a differentiating factor for most enterprises, and the digital disruption caused by these technologies will be significant," he added.
In Gartner's list of Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017, the first three -- AI & advanced machine learning, intelligent apps and intelligent things -- all revolve around artificial intelligence. In addition, the market research firm has projected that by 2021 40% of new enterprise applications implemented by service providers will include AI technologies.
How could this AI trend affect IT infrastructure professionals? Click ahead to check out some of the possibilities.
Greater demand for resources
The first way that AI growth will impact infrastructure pros is through increasing demand for computing resources. In fact, many organizations are already seeing this today. AI systems require vast amounts of compute power, and to support them organizations need either servers or cloud computing services with access to multi-core processors and GPUs. In addition, in order to train their machine learning system, enterprises need a lot of data, and that means more storage capacity as well. Of course, organizations will also need plenty of networking resources to support those computing and storage systems.
Security solutions generate vast quantities of log data, far too much for humans to sort through on their own. A growing crop of security analytics, threat intelligence, and user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) products harness the power of machine learning and advanced algorithms to prevent, identify and mitigate attacks that might otherwise avoid detection.
However, the black hats may soon start integrating AI into their code as well. It could be only a matter of time before AI-based cyberattacks become commonplace.
In addition to helping secure networks, AI can also help monitor networks and other infrastructure. One example is the Dynatrace platform, which offers AI-based full-stack monitoring. It incorporates machine learning and big-data analytics capabilities to provide IT professionals with smart monitoring capabilities that make it easier for them to do their jobs. Other vendors in this area include Spunk and SumoLogic. Their products are more broadly focused on analyzing all kinds of machine data, but can be used for network monitoring purposes.
(Image: Ton Snoei/Shutterstock)
Automated helpdesk support
People have already become accustomed to smart assistants like Cortana and Siri, and customer service chatbots are becoming common as well. Soon, AI could also takeover helpdesk responsibilities. IPSoft has already created an AI called Amelia that can perform some helpdesk functions. Other platforms like IBM's Watson offer similar capabilities that could help alleviate some of IT's burden for providing support to the organizations they serve.
(Image source: IPSoft)
Some storage experts expect that AI will also transform storage management. Machine learning tools could learn IO patterns and data lifecycles, allowing storage solutions to make more intelligent decisions related to storage optimization and tiering. Perhaps one day, AI could even predict when storage solutions are about to fail, giving users time to backup data and replace hardware before it becomes a problem.
AI for infrastructure management
While the technology isn't fully developed yet, some experts envision a future where AI not only secures, manages and answers questions about networks, AI could also actively manage and maintain those systems. This level of automation is sometimes called self-driving infrastructure or AI-defined infrastructure. Trends like software-defined data centers and orchestration tools like Kubernetes are creating the foundational technology that may make it possible.
The human impact
Of course, in any discussion of AI, people wonder whether computers will eventually take over their jobs. That could be a possibility for some IT infrastructure management positions. In May, Gartner issued this forecast: "AI will eventually replace many routine functions of the IT organization, particularly on the operations side, such as in system administration, help desk, project management and application support."
However, many experts believe AI won't decrease the total number of IT jobs available, although it will change the nature of the work that humans are doing. Gartner added, "Some roles will disappear, but AI will improve some skills shortages, and the IT organization as a whole will increasingly focus on more creative work that differentiates the enterprise."
The short answer may be that IT infrastructure pros don't need to worry about robots taking over their jobs tomorrow, but now is the time to make sure that you have the advanced skills that will keep you employable as AI and automation grow.
(Image: Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock)