Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cognitive Computing – fitting the platform to the application

By Rich Ptak

Recently, it has been popular to assert that IT professionals and business staff need no longer concern
themselves or consider IT infrastructure. Among other reasons, the claim is that with the growth of Cloud computing and commoditization, infrastructure no longer matters. The assertion being that a general purpose architecture provides all the processing flexibility and power needed to deliver a range of services.

We are convinced that this view is short-sighted and wrong as it ignores the changing dynamics of computing as Moore’s Law runs down, and technology evolves. It focuses on traditional performance metrics while ignoring the realities disrupting IT, how it is designed, implemented and realized in operations and applications.
It trivializes the difficulties in evolving and delivering systems that are able to meet the requirements of the high speed, data-intensive, highly scalable, adaptable workloads associated with evolving technologies of genomics, nanotechnology, etc. It denies or wishes to ignore the need for and interest in open, standards-based systems-oriented infrastructure able to intelligently adapt and optimize for evolving workloads. 

Identifying the Future of Infrastructure

There are enterprise and IT professionals who recognize and understand the implications of the extraordinary demands placed on infrastructure as a result of the combination of today’s competitive market and evolving technologies.

With the IBM IT Infrastructure Point of View[1] (POV) website, IBM offers these professionals “thought leadership” opinions and insights that promote and support the role of IT leaders in planning the use of technology to achieve organizational success. The target audience are those who not only understand the demand, but also seek to add to their knowledge in order to better prepare themselves and their organizations to meet future challenges.

Today’s Digital enterprises are being challenged to meet escalating expectations of clients and customers for extraordinary performance, dynamic scalability, robust adaptability and rapid innovation in the delivery of services and products. Such demands cannot be met with infrastructure and systems compromised to provide common denominator needs. Nor, can it be met with the ‘static’ configurations and fixed architectures of the very recent past.

Meeting the evolving demands of data and compute intensive digital enterprise, requires a systems infrastructure for server and storage operations that can be intelligently optimized. The infrastructure must be optimized to deal with emerging, evolving styles of computing. It must be flexible enough to integrate and interact with emerging technologies while still able to interoperate with existing operating environments. It must also be intelligently and cognitively adaptable to meet the emerging demands of whatever workload it takes on.  

IBM’s Point of View on IT Infrastructure for Cognitive Workloads

With the explosion of Cognitive computing, its hybrid cloud platforms, Power and z Systems, storage solutions and experience in leading edge technologies and solutions, IBM is uniquely positioned to work with clients to help to shape the future of their computing operations. Enterprise IT must not only get the most from their existing infrastructure but must also act to leverage new cognitive capabilities and take advantage of emerging technologies.

Today’s systems-oriented solutions depend upon server and storage technologies that can be combined with software driven cognitive abilities, such as IBM’s Watson. Cognitive computing has the potential to understand, reason, learn and adapt to changes in their operational environment and workloads. IBM is working with clients, customers and partners to push the boundaries of what is possible with an IT infrastructure optimized for cognitive workloads. 

In recognition of all this, IBM is publishing a Point of View (PoV) about IT infrastructure and cognitive workloads. It describes in significant detail how IBM, in conjunction with its partners, will advise and work with customers to aid them in their efforts to organize and plan in order to gain the most advantage from their IT systems and storage infrastructure.

As would be expected, key to this approach are the IBM solutions portfolio of z Systems, Power Systems, IBM Storage, hybrid cloud services and software-driven cognitive computing (ala Watson).  
This strategy is built around three principles:   
  1.     Design for Cognitive Business – to allow action at the speed of thought,
  2.    Build with Collaborative Innovation – to accelerate technology breakthroughs,
  3.     Delivery through a Cloud Platform – to extend the value of systems and data. 
IBM has multiple projects (both under-way and completed) where cognitive computing has provided the key factor in achieving competitive advantage, financial performance and enterprise success. The involve enterprises and organizations in a wide variety of markets. The projects have accelerated time to insights with infrastructure deliberately designed and architected for unstructured data with companies in banking, oil and gas exploration, and academia. They have sped-up development of new solutions while cutting the time-to-market. They have provided infrastructure optimized to run specific workloads with unique business requirements for customers ranging from government agencies to healthcare services.

We won’t steal any more of IBM’s thunder. We suggest that you visit the IBM IT infrastructure site to review the details. In our opinion, IBM appears to be well ahead of its competition with its comprehensive, customer-centric view and vision. They are also uniquely positioned to speak on this topic. They have both the cutting edge technology and significant real-life implementation experience with products to demonstrate their ability to deliver on their visions for the future of cognitive computing supported by intelligent infrastructure.