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Why storage needs AI

By ADAM DAY, CEEMA storage category manager for HP Enterprise

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We are witnessing the dawn of the intelligence era, which is signifying a fundamental shift in the storage landscape.

While we have seen great strides in recent years with the move to flash disk storage – which has accounted for some massive performance gains – the reality is that the hardware gains are rapidly diminishing, so we are having to look beyond just flash to resolve storage issues.

I believe it’s fair to say that the flash era has essentially become a de facto standard – everybody has it and it isn’t considered as a criterion that sets storage technology apart anymore.

With the dawn of the intelligence era we begin to see the ushering in of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and automation, which are becoming the key points that everyone needs to take into consideration to automate and streamline their technology environments.

This shift is coming about for a number of reasons. A key driver in South Africa, specifically, is the lack of skills available. For every enterprise to have storage experts as part of their organisation is not realistic, both from a cost and availability of skills perspective, so we are moving to an era where we will need automation and intelligence as a standard feature of our systems.

This will obviously also have a profound impact on storage solutions and the type of offerings that we can expect to see in the future.

Customers are looking to invest in storage systems that effectively future-proof them, so a key aspect of decision-making will be around investing in a platform that will be able to take advantage of new technologies and not have to be replaced.

However, not only are enterprises increasingly looking to invest in systems that will support next-generation technologies, they are also looking for a vendor that will allow them to make an investment and then support the refreshes of their technology in a few years, at no additional investment, whether this is via pay per use models or technology refresh options available at time of purchase.

Automation is something that’s also going to be looked for as a standard both across the global ecosystems and not just inside storage systems. Customers will be looking to invest their funds in systems that are leveraging AI and have the ability to make decisions and automate their processes and make recommendations that are specific too their own application and business needs.

Most importantly though, enterprises will want to invest in storage systems that will help them with their entire ecosystems and drive business agility across their entire stack.

As bearing in mind 90% of data centre issues and outages happen outside of the storage system, a system that offers intelligence that looks beyond the storage is key, and solutions that can view cross-stack into the VM layer, network layer or compute layer to see what is happening globally will lead the way.

So, we are talking about providing solutions that offer cross-stack analytics, as opposed to just providing AI for storage platforms – the ability to look beyond the storage if a game changer.

In this next-generation world, where we are producing data at such massive pace and scale that it is beyond human capability to manage and classify, it needs to be handled by something that’s automated and I think AI is the only solution for this.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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