Time for an AI-driven rethink of our IT operations

Do you remember AIOps? It was based around the idea, promoted to a large degree by Gartner, that the human element in IT management was the weak link in digital transformation. By relying on human knowledge and intervention to keep everything flowing smoothly, you were perpetuating a massive inefficiency. By adding AI into IT operations you could disintermediate all the friction in the running of an IT ecosystem, replacing it with an AI-driven platform. No more downtime while you wait for your turn to get your broadband unfrozen by one of the geeks in the basement.

 

It you thought that AIOps was a flash in the pan, a good idea that never quite caught on, then it might be time to think again. It has been well documented that 2020 was the year when SD-WAN proved its worth and SASE gathered mainstream attention. A totally unanticipated shift to remote working on a global scale made everybody realise that software-driven connectivity was a ‘must have’ not a ‘could manage without’. But SD-WAN and SASE can only do so much when confronted by the endless day to day business of keeping workers busy and their IT fully tuned. There isn’t a figure out there for how much productivity was lost last year due to dropped Zoom calls and indifferent WiFi. The right network automation solution helps here, but sometimes it’s about just putting a call through to the IT people to get their input.

 

We are seeing a rash of vendors developing solutions with AIOps at their heart, giving a fresh push to the idea of automated IT support. It’s around a year, for example, since VMware acquired AIOps vendor Nyansa, and suddenly the acquisition looks like a masterstroke. Nyansa’s Voyance platform has just been rebranded as Edge Network Intelligence, and become a central part of VMware’s SASE offer.

 

VMware’s SASE now takes real-time and historical data from all over a network, and applies machine learning and AI algorithms to it that are designed to identify and fix network disruptions. No call outs. No waiting. Just intelligent usage of all the data that a network churns out. Is the problem at the level of the LAN or the WAN? Let AIOps sort that out. Key applications running slower than expected? Not any more with an AIOps platform.

 

It’s not just VMware that’s got wise to AIOps. Open Systems, Aruba and Juniper have also got busy developing AI-driven capabilities and deploying them to battle network disruptions and resolve application performance issues.

 

Bob Friday, CTO and Co-founder of Mist, now part of Juniper Networks, says the technology is already delivering concrete results: “We can start finding anomalies inside of networks now without generating a lot of noise for the IT guy,” he commented at a recent NetEvents roundtable. “AI-driven deep learning is actually starting to make a difference inside of our networking environments.”

 

We can expect the AIOps platforms of the future to be the basis for many kinds of innovation, as well as smooth out the kinks in digital transformation projects. AIOps will help us actually make something out of all the data that networks generate in such quantity that making sense of it is already beyond the reach of humans.

 

AIOps is not the only recent AI-led development that promises new ways to deploy and manage IT. Take for example SambaNova Systems, which has just announced the availability of its DataScale platform, designed to speed up AI innovations across a broad range of use cases including natural language processing (NLP), high-resolution computer vision and recommender systems.

“We are experiencing one of the biggest transitions in computing history since the internet,” said Rodrigo Liang, co-founder and CEO, SambaNova Systems. “This transition is already pushing the boundaries of what is possible with AI and giving us a clear view of what the future of computing will look like. AI has forced the industry to relook at how we design next-generation infrastructure for these complex machine learning workloads.”

 

It’s exciting times for AI and there is every reason to expect 2021 to be a breakthrough year for its integration into every facet of connectivity and compute.

 

The following links will stimulate thinking on this topic:

 

VMware

Juniper

Aruba

Open Systems

BMC

Gartner

SambaNova Systems

 

And here’s a link to that roundtable I mentioned.

 

By Guy Matthews, Editor of NetReporter

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