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AI’s Biggest Asset as the Government Embraces Digital Transformation Will Be Hybrid IT and Cloud Computing

Level 11

By Paul Parker, SolarWinds Federal & National Government Chief Technologist

Artificial intelligence (AI) is coming. Contrary to the stuff of science fiction, however, AI has the potential to have a positive impact within the federal IT community. The adoption of AI will likely be the result of the adoption of hybrid and cloud IT computing.

AI is not new. While highly effective, AI has historically had a long adoption timeframe—similar to other excellent technologies waiting for the perfect use case within day-to-day IT environments. Many believe that’s about to change. Public sector investment in AI is expected to rise rapidly in the coming years. According to the 2018 SolarWinds North American Public Sector IT Trends report, more than a third of surveyed public sector IT pros predict that AI will be among some of the biggest technology priorities in three to five years.

Signs point to hybrid IT and cloud adoption as primary factors in the rise of AI adoption. In fact, the two can have a synergistic relationship, since AI can enhance the capabilities provided through a hybrid IT or cloud environment.

AI platforms

One of the great things about cloud is its ability to serve as a platform for federal IT pros to acquire and use technologies as a service, rather than buying them outright. Applications, storage, infrastructure—all of these are now available as a service.

AI is no different. Each major cloud provider offers its own machine learning services (MLaaS) platform, which will let third-party AI application developers build their smart applications on each of these cloud platforms. With the availability of AI platforms comes the opportunity to “let someone else” handle the intricacies of creating AI applications—which may lead to a wide variety of new AI-based applications.

There are two more advantages of cloud that present an environment ripe for AI: abundant computing capacity and access to vast amounts of data. Abundant capacity means applications have the room to use as much computing power as necessary to accomplish highly complex computing algorithms; access to vast amounts of data means applications have the information necessary to use those complex algorithms to deliver far more “intelligent” information. The network making its transition to Software-Defined Everything can allow AI to use additional resources when necessary and return that capacity when it’s finished with complex issues. Templates, policies, and dynamic scaling are designed to make this more than possible—it becomes simple.

The final advantage of this great convergence of technologies is AI’s role in managing this highly intelligent environment. Take the Internet of Things (IoT) for example. AI has the potential to allow for a dramatically enhanced ability to manage things that to date have been difficult to manage or even track. Taking that scenario even further, the intelligence and data analytics behind AI may also provide the ability to implement far more broad-reaching automation.

With automation comes greater efficiency and more opportunity for innovation. I’d call that a win-win.

Find the full article on our partner DLT’s blog Technically Speaking.

The SolarWinds trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC or its affiliates.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Level 9

With out a doubt, AI is coming.  My primary concern is who will have access to this data.  From a government perspective, could this information be used against us?

Level 14

That is my biggest concern.  Who owns the data, andhow is it being used?

Hybrid IT will certainly be one of the first steps.  I'd like to think that AI's will be most useful, ultimately, in a pure AI environment.  The hybrid part is what we'll see in the immediate future, but eventually it should be more efficient to avoid the hybrid and go pure AI / pure digital for all things.

Until then, non-AI and non-digital items will remain the bottleneck in computing.


Thanks for sharing.

Level 13

Thanks for the article.

Level 14

Will the AI be made to sigh a non disclosure agreement and how will it be prosecuted for breaking the agreement.  I'm sure you won't be allowed to turn it off as some do-gooder will try to class it as a life form and therefore have rights.       

Level 14

Thanks for the article.

Level 20

Applying the various neural net architectures to solve new problems is where we're at right now... we're finally getting some real problems to apply them to and do some IRAD's ie. investing real money and doing real science.

Whether one attributes the quote to The Bible, The French National Convention, or "Uncle Ben", the saying is no less true: "With great power comes great responsibility."  While I do not argue the point that AI is here, I do bring up the question: who will be responsible?  If we, as humans, can construct a thing, can we (and SHOULD we) have the ability to turn it off?  In the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled "The Measure Of A Man", Data, the automaton, was on trial as to whether or not he was sentient.  Will Riker, who was cousel for the prosecution, went so far as to "turn off" the automaton with the flick of a switch.  All that power and knowledge and everything that Data was, shut off in a heartbeat by "[...] a man [...]".  Contrast that with today's Intarwebs...can it be shut off?  How much would need to be done in order to do that?  And will the real-life "Skynet" someday become "[...] self-aware [...]"?

I like what petergwilson​ pondered about AI having to sign an NDA.  What does that look like?  And yes, to take Peter's thought a step further, what happens when (notice I did NOT say "if" on purpose) AI breaks the laws?  And if we humans are flawed, are not our creations flawed as well?  Oh, "Big Brother", that could start us down a pretty deep rabbit hole.

But I do think that AI has its place in the future of this beast we call IT...but, to paraphrase The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, [...] will [IT] be ours to control?"

Level 14

We could always send in the Sardaukar or Muad'Dib with the Fremen armed with weirding modules.

About the Author
Paul Parker, a 25-year information technology industry veteran, and expert in Government. He leads SolarWinds’ efforts to help public sector customers manage the security and performance of their systems by using technology. Parker most recently served as vice president of engineering at Infoblox‘s federal division. Before that, he served in C-level or senior management positions at Ward Solutions, Eagle Alliance and Dynamics Research Corp.