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Open networking: the key to meeting growing AI demand

(Image credit: Image Credit: Enzozo / Shutterstock)

Undeniably, the last decade has seen an explosion in the capabilities and use cases of AI and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms across all sectors of enterprise, and indeed wider society. From public healthcare to accounting and manufacturing, more and more organisations are beginning to incorporate this technology into day-to-day business functions.

This increasing demand for AI is leading many organisations, including government agencies like the Dutch National Police, towards containers and Kubernetes technologies to automate and streamline application deployment, scaling and management. All with the goal of getting real-time data into the hands of agents and employees as quickly as possible.

Those successfully meeting this demand are turning to open networking - utilising open-sourced based solutions and an ecosystem of partners to enable scale, innovation and, ultimately, the successful deployment of AI and machine learning.

AI demand continues to grow

Across enterprise, AI has grabbed the spotlight thanks to the proliferation of data, the increasing sophistication of ML algorithms and the scalability benefits provided by cloud computing. But while AI promises much, the reality of deployment is not so easy. Despite the continued hype, the vast majority of organisations are still struggling to meet the ever-growing demand and get proof of concepts off the ground. Even fewer have real-use cases in full production. But with business benefits ranging from cost-savings to compliance and increased competitiveness, it’s essential that businesses overcome this deployment hurdle.

AI is the biggest commercial opportunity in today’s changing economy. Research from PwC reports that the technology’s potential contribution to the global economy by 2030 is $15.7tn. In fact, it is slated that 45 per cent of total economic gains by that time will come from the product innovations and increased consumer demand generated by AI. With increased affordability, personalisation and appeal driving consumer buying trends.

It’s not farfetched to say that AI will permeate into every facet of life. In many ways it already has. The smartphone in our pocket harnesses automation every time we use predictive text to send a message. Our favourite search engine presents results to us in seconds thanks to ML algorithms. Even in the public sector AI is already in use. The UK Police has accelerated its use of AI in recent years, with a number of police forces trialling facial recognition technology. London’s Met Police moved to a live deployment of the technology earlier in 2020.

Open Networking: the key to AI deployment

There are myriad benefits of utilising Open Networking based solutions when looking to overcome the challenges associated with deploying AI across business and community-critical agencies, like the police and healthcare services. And though there are still a wide variety of ways Open Networking is defined; at its broadest, it is simply how you build and manage high performing, high quality and high value computing systems for 21st century life.

One of the biggest challenges is how to move from theory to reality. That is, how to actually get data into the hands of those who need it, when they need it – every time. Today’s businesses and organisations want to become knowledge and data-driven agencies instead of ones that simply use products. And this is driving many towards containers and Kubernetes technologies – the open source platform that automates Linux containers and eliminates a lot of the manual processes involved in deploying and then scaling containerised applications. By adopting Kubernetes, companies receive the benefits of containers at scale without any of the management complications. Kubernetes orchestrates applications packaged in containers in order to automate and manage how its resource is used and failures are handled along with its scalability, configuration and availability. Harnessing Open Networking in this way enables businesses and agencies to move towards deploying AI more easily so they can create new, innovative products and services that improve customer experiences.

A case in point, the Dutch National Police has embraced Open Networking and Linux software in this way to enable them to run their networking hardware as if they were the host. By bringing the latest iteration of servers, storage and networking together to form a complete and robust solution, the force has been able to meet the call to become a knowledge-driven government agency – one that can get the best information to its officers on the street in real-time.

Another key benefit of Open Networking is that it enables community-critical departments to test key deployments, such as data analysis and automated responses to emergencies, in a virtual environment before it is deployed for use to the general public. In fact, an entirely new scalable architecture can be built from scratch to be tested in a sandbox while existing legacy systems continue to run critical operations in tandem.

A project that could have easily been stalled getting off the ground has in fact led to a better TCO compared to traditional solutions thanks to harnessing Kubernetes technologies. In fact, the force has been able to invest more funds into developing highly skilled people and management in order to get the most out of the big data platform now and in the future.

Thanks to Open Networking, technology innovation is no longer the preserve of the private sector or Silicon Valley. Undeniably, the demand for AI will only continue to increase. And both private enterprise and public agencies need to adapt now to keep up with this demand – or risk failing to meet rising consumer expectations and missing out commercially. Harnessing open-sourced based solutions, such as Kubernetes and containers along with servers and storage, will enable all businesses to successfully meet the demand for the benefits of AI.

Stefaan Eens, Cumulus Networks