One of the chief advantages to cloud computing is its ability to implement the latest technologies in record time. While the enterprise struggles to deploy Flash technology and even basic server virtualization in the data center, the cloud is already pushing forward with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).
This more than anything is one of the main reasons why many tech experts say the traditional data center is on the way out. When providing advanced data services is the core business rather than a support cost center, the incentive to deploy state-of-the-art technologies is high. At some point, the thinking goes, cloud services and applications will be so far ahead that the bulk of the enterprise workload will migrate off-premises, with perhaps certain key functions residing on local, hyperconverged infrastructure that requires little more expert knowledge to maintain than the breakroom refrigerator.
This focus on an entirely new level of data sophistication is a key element among top cloud providers looking to crack the enterprise market. According to the Economic Times, Google has invested upwards of $30 billion into its Cloud Platform, and the focus now is to leverage the AI and ML technologies developed for its search engine for advanced enterprise services. In this way, the company hopes to deliver the kind of functionality that is vital to compete in the emerging digital services economy, and provide them on a cost structure that not even the largest enterprise can hope to achieve on its own.
Building advanced capabilities into the cloud is likely to be particularly beneficial outside of Europe and North America, where the installed base of enterprise infrastructure is still relatively small. China’s TenCent Cloud recently announced that it will adopt Nvidia’s Tesla GPU accelerators to drive AI capabilities across a series of cutting-edge enterprise services. The project involves Pascal-based P100 and P40 devices connected by the NVLink platform that supports deep learning and other tools for advanced analytics, service automation and natural language processing.
Traditional business software platforms are also tapping into the advanced capabilities that the cloud brings to the table. Adobe recently enhanced the Sensei framework for its Adobe Cloud Platform to better integrate AI and ML into enterprise workflows. The aim is to allow the enterprise to standardize and customize customer data to improve the delivery of enhanced user experiences, while at the same time improve marketing effectiveness and efficiency. The platform can also integrate with third-party APIs to share data, content and analytical insights through the Adobe I/O cross-cloud development portal.
And Microsoft is adding new Big Data and AI capabilities to its Azure Government Cloud. Two key services are the Power BI Pro and HD Insights data visualization tools that help organizations manage, analyze and visualize large data sets. The intent is to foster greater democratization of Big Data services so that even non-data-experts can run the analytics they need to make informed decisions. As well, the company has launched a Cognitive Insights suite of services that leverages audio and text translation, facial recognition, and a number of other tools to augment everything from national security to benefits fulfillment.
The enterprise has long been caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to data technology. There is always a competitive advantage to leveraging the latest and greatest capabilities first, but that has to be tempered by budgets and infrastructure development roadmaps.
In the cloud, however, these conflicts are much less pronounced. The provider worries about technology while the enterprise needs only to ensure that its resource consumption is in line with its revenue stream.
And unlike the old days when you had to invest in infrastructure first and then figure out what to do with it, you can bring your service requests to the cloud provider – and if they can’t meet your needs, there is undoubtedly someone out there who can.
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.