Design & Build

Brook Reams

VM World 2014 –Augmented Intelligence and the Data Center

by Community Manager ‎09-02-2014 10:37 AM - edited ‎09-02-2014 12:14 PM (1,234 Views)

Yes, I was there for the earthquake. On the 28th floor of my hotel, I stopped hearing the pipes, lamps and mirrors scraping, creaking and sighing when the swaying back and forth finally died out a couple minutes after the shaking woke me up. And then on Monday at the general session, there was that unfortunate mashup where months of VMware marketing to define a memorable show theme, “No Limits”, connected with reality as a video loop of crumbling walls displayed on the large screens in the front as we filed in to our seats for the first general session.

 

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Source: VM World 2014

 

That file loop didn’t make it past Monday.

 

So What Did I Think of the Show?

I wasn’t able to reach a simple summary until the last general session on Thursday from the last speaker, Sean Gourley. Sean talked about research in human vs. machine intelligence. He summed up the findings with the phrase “Augmented Intelligence” rather than “Artificial Intelligence”.  This fit very neatly with VMware's message about the power of "AND" and our own messages at the Brocade booth about breaking the network status quo with our Solid State Ready program.

 

Augmented Intelligence Can Be Measured

He summarized research from “anything goes” chess tournaments where matches are held between teams and each team can decide how many people or computers they wish to use. The analysis shows that the winning combination is not 100% computer or multiple computres, nor 100% person or multiple people, but a mixture of a handful of smaller computers and two or three people. The measured benefit of this hybrid system is about 16% better performance as measured by chess matches won. This leads to the notion that a mixture of robots (computers by another name), computers and people where each augments the other to mask each other’s limitations, or “augmented intelligence”, is the winning strategy. That said, how to decide what the automatons should do, what the people should do, how many of each to include and how to deploy this “augmented system” is what needs more study.

 

This idea, combining computer skills with human skills to get a better system, was evident in a different way at the show. Automation of repetitive configuration tasks is a major form of disruption to status quo in IT: see OpenDayLight, OpenStack, Puppet, Chef, etc. But, human defined architectures for business value, design blue prints for component configurations and evaluation of system problems is also essential: see vCOPS and Log Insight.

 

I conclude that future IT systems look more like augmented intelligence systems that balance software automation with human pattern matching and planning skills to adapt in real time to changes in the external environment and in the system itself. Those companies who are better at integrating what computer automation can do, as in “Softwar Defined Data Centers”, with what people can do, as in identifing new applications that create more customers and increase customer experiences, creating design blue prints, , identifing root cause(s) of systems problems, etc., will be competative.

 

It’s an interesting way to think about VMware’s strategy.  They are building a software platform that implements augmented intelligence for the data center. That means partners like Brocade also have to think about this model for our products and services.

 

The Brocade Booth-Breaking the Status Quo

The Brocade booth included a number of demonstrations screens where six demonstrations of our integration with VMware and our other partners were a popular attraction.

 

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Demonstrations of how Brocade integrates into a Software Defined Data Center

 

It was common for a demonstration to move over to our white tables where Brocade experts could provide detailed advice and design ideas.

 

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White Table discussion about breaking the network status quo with Brocade experts

 

Brocade Solid State Ready Program

We announced our new Brocade Solid State Ready program (SSR) to validate flash storage with Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel SAN and Brocade VCS Fabric for NAS and iSCSI from a number of companies: Fujitsu, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, NetApp, Nimble, Pure Storage, Saratoga Speed, Skyera, SolidFire, Tegile, Tintri, and Volin Memory.

 

We held a dozen 10 minute Q&A sessions in our booth with flash storage vendors, many of whom had booths surrounding ours and they all drew a crowd. The system and storage administrators in particular could learn about how each vendor’s products are being used to accelerate applications so they are better prepared to manage their virtualizaiton enviroments when SSD storage is added to the mix.

 

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Brocade Booth with SSR Partners taking audience questions

 

We published SSR Validation Test reports and will add deployment guides in our Design and Build document folder in Brocade Communities shortly.  In keeping with the Augmented Intelligence idea, the Brocade SSR program augments the value of SSD storage systems with SSR validation for both Fibre Channel and IP storage networks.

 

Brocade’s SSR program is designed to augment flash storage so you have No Limits.