True AI Readiness Requires More Than Just the Right Infrastructure
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With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) as a world-changing force, public- and private-sector organizations are racing to assemble the elements to leverage its immense and diverse possibilities, elevating it as a top-level agenda item for 2024.
The release of ChatGPT thrust AI into the global spotlight and rapidly became a wake-up call for many leaders who recognized the need for an AI-fueled transformation of their own offerings and operations. In particular, generative AI (GenAI) has captured widespread attention for its ability to complete creative tasks in seconds, extrapolate novel insights, and even improve its own performance without explicit training through machine learning.
But, achieving true and complete AI readiness to derive business and societal value requires many elements. Assembling the right hardware and software for a high-performance computing (HPC) environment is just one aspect – it also means reinventing old processes, revising policies, upgrading support systems, and evolving mind-sets that are no longer relevant.
If you are looking to unlock your own possibilities for bringing AI everywhere, we'd like to highlight some of the building blocks for a successful AI-ready transition.
Traditionally, data centers have been designed by IT to create a variety of single server systems with unique hardware and software stacks that are purpose-built for a specific workload function, such as ERP or Big Data. And, in many instances they're assembled from proprietary elements that create costly, inflexible vendor lock-in, limiting the paths to fresh innovation.
That approach must now change.
The technology behind AI is highly complex, encompassing a rapidly growing number of training methods, capabilities, data types and sizes, and infrastructure requirements for operation – especially given the massive and costly compute requirements. And, this feat of complex computing must be achieved while keeping data and IP secure and compliant. Aging legacy systems simply cannot provide the level of flexible performance that AI workloads demand. It requires a complete ecosystem that can accelerate innovation, maximize business value, stay secure and responsible, and deploy anywhere.
Going forward, virtually all computing technology will evolve to support AI – for example, look no further than the latest generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, launched in mid-December. This newest processor is purpose-built to usher in a new age of AI-readiness to power these workloads in the data center, the cloud and at the edge.
Like its 4th gen predecessor, it is equipped with the most built-in accelerators on the market, including Intel® Advanced Matrix Extensions (Intel® AMX), delivering big per-watt performance gains for machine learning training and inference. The workload-optimized performance, built-in accelerator engines and power efficiency gains of Intel Xeon Scalable processors are up to your biggest AI-related tasks, eliminating the need to implement additional specialized hardware to achieve these capabilities.
What's more, Intel offers a full AI portfolio including:
- AI-ready CPUs that go into Intel-powered PCs, workstations and servers.
- Intel® Data Center GPU Max and Flex Series products for the most challenging HPC and AI workloads
- Intel® Gaudi® products for dedicated deep learning training and inference workloads, which deliver leading price performance in the cloud and on-premises.
As an ecosystem leader, Intel works with software vendors (ISVs) to optimize their applications for Intel® technology, providing a reference architecture for open systems, enabling you to take advantage of the ideal innovation for your operation. By leveraging the right hardware/software stack to meet business needs, customers are better positioned for AI readiness and business success.
It used to be a common belief that every seven years was an ideal interval for replacing legacy systems with improved IT capabilities. And, a refresh approach typically followed predictable hardware trends, such as having all functions center around a single server or block.
Artificial intelligence changes all of that: even legacy systems that were refreshed two to four years ago will have difficulty handling the complex demands of running AI workloads, leading to user frustration and less performant outcomes. Another consideration is the industry move from licenses to subscription-based servers; businesses cannot make that change when they're constrained by outmoded processes and policies.
The message is clear: organizations need to move beyond those no-longer-valid refresh cycles to realize greater business value with AI.
True AI readiness means integrating and managing all elements for effective performance. To help organizations prepare, WWT and Intel draw on a broad AI ecosystem to offer solutions that encompass the public cloud, edge, on-prem data center and more, with unique approaches for every use case.
Beyond hardware, both companies collaborate to help ensure that your IT environment can support your new capabilities – for example, meeting your power and cooling requirements for high-performance computing today and tomorrow. It means planning for hardware that's up to HPC workloads versus a standard box server. It also means knowing what isn't needed anymore, such as additional GPUs, now that AI accelerators are built into the latest Intel Xeon Scalable processors.
With effective planning, successful AI readiness can help organizations reduce their carbon footprint in pursuit of sustainability goals, doing more with less, while driving up ROI through vastly improved performance.
WWT can step into a critical advisory role at the planning stage, helping articulate the vision, specify the hardware requirements and support infrastructure, and other factors for a successful deployment.
Because AI is a complex and rapidly evolving technology, IT personnel must begin and continue in-depth knowledge development. WWT helps customers get ahead of that learning curve by providing a clear, customized learning path through our Advanced Technology Center (ATC), our multi-campus R&D ecosystem. Here, customers can gain hands-on experience in interactive labs, workshops and other educational resources.
For its part, Intel offers an academy-like learning environment with deep-dive technical materials for enterprise developers and data scientists to explore the Intel AI hardware and software portfolio, from oneAPI and OpenVINO to acceleration products like Intel Gaudi for deep learning and training inference. Together, WWT and Intel guide ATC visitors through a self-paced educational environment, simplifying AI's complexities to help them make more informed choices.
Sixty years ago, color TV was something special; it quickly became commonplace. Thirty years ago, businesses touted having a website; now everybody has one. Such will be the case with "AI-powered": novel today, normal tomorrow.
As artificial intelligence gets baked into all aspects of everyday life, it's imperative that organizations have the elements in place to:
- Accelerate innovation in whatever form it takes, from any platform
- Deploy and run AI workloads flexibly from anywhere
- Operate securely and responsibly, protecting assets and promoting sustainability
- Maximize value, reducing TCO while enhancing ROI
WWT is helping customers explore how to leverage AI in various ways, enabling developers to write better code, allowing businesses to simulate real-world environments by deploying virtual Digital Twin technology, and providing IT security staff with the tools to protect critical assets from ever more sophisticated attacks.
WWT can help your organization prepare for an AI Everywhere world with a thorough plan incorporating the latest technology, training and proven deployment strategies.