Combining cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI)

Originally published on LinkedIn in November 2017

Today’s technological progress and the wealth of modern economies have reached an impressive level. While in the early period of human history, the pace of technological progress was relatively slow, nowadays time to market and being state-of-the-art are key factors for competitiveness. Consequently, companies have to be quick and predict successfully the development of new and old technologies. Amazon did very well to concentrate on the development of their cloud services in 2006 already. Today, the cloud computing world is dominated by Amazon AWS who enjoy a seemingly monopolistic market share of over 30 percent. A serious competition only comes from Microsoft Azure, Google, IBM and Alibaba. According to Forrester’s predictions for 2018, the total global public cloud market will be $178B in 2018, up from $146B in 2017, and will continue to grow at a 22% compound annual growth rate. From this point of view, the cloud seems to be a driving force for economic growth.

Artificial intelligence will become a factor of production

However, a recent study by Accenture drew attention to the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The latter is believed capable to double the gross domestic product growth of many developed economies by 2035. The findings of this study are extremely impressive and will certainly exert pressure on every future-oriented decision maker. As Accenture’s figure beneath shows, AI will become a factor of production.

A conference on Artificial Intelligence in Strasbourg by Frederic Wickert, Technical Evangelist at Microsoft, came as if called. This conference was organised by Hacking Health and Med’Advice on 15th November 2017. Med’Advice is a junior enterprise specialised in the pharmacy sector. Hacking Health on the other hand works together with all actors of the health sector (entrepreneurs, companies, SMEs etc.) and organises around 300 conferences, 10 workshops and 50 projects with over 400 participants. The objective is to bring together digitization and health industry.

With the experience of over 10 years as developer at Microsoft, Frederic Wickert works on the development of cloud software solutions and now more and more on artificial intelligence. As he points out, the fear towards artificial intelligence always is related to the fear of men to being replaced by robots. However, we are at the very beginning of artificial intelligence. Frederic Wickert underlines that the fear towards AI is not justified. The reality is that we are not aware of the importance and advantages of AI. In fact, AI is not coming to replace anybody.

What exactly is artificial intelligence and what is meant by “artificial”?

First of all, we have to define what is „intelligence“ before understanding AI. Different forms of human intelligence exist (interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal, spiritual, existential intelligence etc.). Intelligence is not just human, it is „living” (linguistic intelligence, collective intelligence etc.) Artificial intelligence also consists in adapting. Every system that is able of adapting to give a perfect reply is „intelligent“.

Different types and levels of AI have to be taken into consideration. The first level is known as Artificial Superior Intelligence (ASI). The second level is the level of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) known to be a general system without any expert capabilities. When it comes to the third level of AI, we approach human intelligence. At this point, we speak of Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI). Today’s AI systems are situated between AGI and ANI according to Wickert.

Why AI today?

In fact, AI has existed for long time. What changed over time is the definition. The first time AI appeared as a term was in 1950. The reason why we speak more and more about AI is because of Data, Cloud and Intelligence/Algorithm. A modern application has to take into consideration these three as Wickert points out. Systems of Intelligence transform products, engage customers, optimize operations and empower employees. Therefore, AI is present everywhere across all sectors.

AI and cloud computing?

A strong conclusion we can make from this instructive conference is that cloud computing and artificial intelligence will melt into one another. Frederic Wickert also referred to the role of machine and deep learning in the field of AI. Nowadays, we are used to intelligent assistants like Cortana, Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. Gary Eastwood from the IDG Contributor Network predicts an AI and cloud fusion in the future. According to him “the many, disparate servers which are part of cloud technology hold the data which an AI can access and use to make decisions and learn things like how to hold a conversation. But as the AI learns this, it can impart this new data back to the cloud, which can thus help other AIs learn as well.” In fact, with the cloud, we reach a calculation power and the capability of treating a number of data and intelligence.

n’ — A serious “Swiss made” alternative to AWS, Azure & Co.

Artificial intelligence plays an increasingly important role at n’ AG. With n’ we have developed a “Swiss made” alternative to the big 5 (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM and Alibaba). The idea behind n’ is to enable customers to design a cloud according to their own taste with the same product, either as a service model, as an ON-PREMISE application in existing IT environments or even as a hybrid variant. The ON-PREM-VERSION can be used centrally or as a multi-cloud variant in a satellite network for large companies. Moreover it is compatible with all leading server, storage and / or network manufacturers and can be purchased as a license model with personal support from n’ AG. The customer decides whether the administration of the cloud platform is taken over by n’ AG, through its own IT department or in a mix of both. Flexibility and simplicity in managing all workloads and resources, via a single development and production platform characterises n’ The main focus hereby is that a cloud platform is freed from all known limitations by hardware vendors.

About n’ AG

As a Swiss cloud computing specialist, n’ AG is one of the cloud pioneers in Europe and was initiated by Netkom IT Services GmbH. Through various advisory mandates and IT projects at and for well-known large companies from home and abroad such as Citibank Switzerland AG, Schindler AG, ABB Turbo Systems and many more, the company developed early as a specialist in IT strategy and its implementation in the operational IT infrastructures and organization of the respective customers. Numerous projects in the classic server / client area for SMEs made it possible to acquire further core competencies in the areas of transformation and digitization.