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What AI Can Do for Storage

Arthur Cole

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly moving from a general concept in the enterprise to a deployable solution that is producing concrete changes in the way basic functions are addressed.

One key area that is ripe for a dose of intelligence is storage, which is under increasing strain as both the volume and complexity of daily workloads defy the traditional approach of simply adding more capacity when drives max out.

Silicon Angle’s Mark Albertson draws in interesting analogy in the rise of intelligent storage by noting that if data is the new oil, then storage is the new refinery. In the near future, simply pulling data from applications or other resources and bundling it into storage will not suffice. Instead, data will have to be conditioned, analyzed, processed, tagged and subjected to multiple other processes in order to effectively support analytics and the real-time applications that drive productivity. As well, organizations will have to dynamically migrate, replicate and mirror data across increasingly complex tiered infrastructure, which can only be accomplished through an intelligent automation stack or a virtual army of storage managers.

Top storage vendors are already moving in this direction. HPE recently showed off the Nimble InfoSight predictive analytics suite for the 3Par storage platform, with expectations that it will hit the channel by the end of the year. The system is intended to provide a heads up for impending drive failures coupled with the ability to either resolve the problem or remove data from affected hardware without affecting application performance. The company says it can implement the software on both large and small 3Par deployments, providing a consistent experience for end-to-end data environments. It should also help organizations lower their storage costs by increasing efficiency and resource utilization.


Hitachi is on much the same course with its Vantara platform, also due out in a few months. TechRepublic says the system is the product of a consolidation of the company’s storage, analytics and IoT divisions, with an added boost from John Murphy, former VP of IBM’s Watson division. The software is aimed primarily at industrial enterprises and features capacity planning, troubleshooting and application performance management modules. Eventually, however, the company expects it will be able to take on tasks like installation, management and maintenance of physical infrastructure, possible through integration with advanced robotics.

Cloud providers are turning toward AI as well, hoping to draw enterprise workloads with higher-level management capabilities. Box, for instance, recently unveiled the Box Skills framework, which gives users an integrated platform to bring AI capabilities like automatic audio transcription and object recognition to their Box-hosted files at scale. According to Cloud Pro, the platform is a first step in what will become a shift in Box services across the board that will incorporate user utilization and interaction data, personalization tools and even developer kits to ensure that the Box ecosystem provides the storage capabilities that people need, not just a low-cost means of warehousing data.

The enterprise should be careful, however, not to build AI into storage independently from other aspects of the data environment, namely compute, networking and virtual/cloud-layer infrastructure. To be truly effective, AI needs a broad view of all IT assets, plus the application- and user-goals it is expected to achieve.

AI will eventually learn how to manage the data ecosystem largely on its own, which means conflicts between disparate intelligent engines will likely create more problems than they solve.

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.


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