Leveraging AI Across the Whole IT Stack

As we celebrate the 30 year anniversary of one of the networking industry’s most prolific standards, 802.11, I can’t help but think about what new standards will drive the adoption of IT for the next 30 years. 

As we all know, standards are not only critical for getting new technologies going. They are also essential for widespread adoption, as they set the bar for quality, innovation, and multi-vendor interoperability. 

So, is there a new technology that promises to change the IT landscape forever, but requires community leadership and coordination to make it happen? Yes. It is AIOps, or more broadly referred to as AI for IT operations.

While AI is most often associated with IBM Watson playing Jeopardy, or diagnosing health conditions, or just answering questions in the form of an Amazon home assistant, it has also become a core component for IT. Not only does AI improve visibility into the IT user experience, it is critical for automating operations and lowering costs – key elements as IT staff are constantly being forced to do more with less. In the future, AI also promises to shift IT from reactive to proactive tasks with the introduction of completely self-healing networks. 

As is the case with many core technologies, there are many devices across the IT stack that must leverage AI – i.e. they must be able to share data and leverage common AI models in an interoperable format. This includes wireless LANs, routers, switches, firewalls, and WANs among other segments. By creating a cross-platform AI engine across these systems, IT can enjoy the benefits of a common user profile that is fully automated with unprecedented insight. This makes IT more strategic than ever to business operations.

But who will take the reins on the standardization of AI for IT?

One can argue that this falls outside the scope of the networking industry’s top two standards bodies – the IEEE and IETF – which are primarily focused on layer 2 and layer 3 technologies respectively. So absent of a clear body to own an AI for IT standard, how will it get done?

The answer will most likely come in the form of an open vendor consortium. Leaders from the different IT elements will have to come together to write, publish and promote a common AI-for-IT language, upon which each company can innovate and differentiate. 

AIOps cannot happen in isolation. IT systems are intrinsically linked, so an AI for IT system must cross the entire stack and bring disparate systems together. The sooner the community can hammer out the details and publish open specifications, the faster we will all benefit from AI in the enterprise. 

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