Jan 31 2018   3:43PM GMT

The race to marry AI and cloud computing is on

Nicole Laskowski Nicole Laskowski Profile: Nicole Laskowski

Artificial intelligence

Amazon, Microsoft and Google are in a race to ally AI and cloud computing by incorporating deep learning, machine learning and other AI functionality into their product offerings, giving developers the tools and the technology to build state-of-the-art applications, according to IDC in Framingham, Mass.

Indeed, the consultancy released a set of 2018 predictions last fall that included a looming AI war among cloud providers. A few short months later, David Schubmehl, research director for IDC’s cognitive/artificial intelligence systems and content analytics research, said the war to marry AI and cloud computing is already underway.

He pointed to conferences such as the International Consumer Electronics Show, better known as CES, where Google and Amazon talked up their voice assistants and the cloud-based capabilities that go along with them as just one piece of evidence. “In 2018, it’s going to get even hotter,” he said.

Vendors merge AI and cloud computing

Two additional IDC predictions explain why the combination of AI and cloud computing is becoming standard for cloud vendors: The consultancy predicts that by 2019, 40% of digital transformation initiatives will use AI services; and by 2021, 75% of commercial enterprise apps will use AI.

If the predictions pan out, companies are in the early stages of a fast-moving “generational shift” in technology that will change the way they do business, according to Schubmehl. But this won’t be a completely new experience for the old IT guard.

Schubmehl compared the effects of AI on the market to the 1980s introduction of the relational database. “At the time, there were personal databases or other types of databases in the marketplace,” he said. In short order, the technology changed how applications were built and how companies thought about computing in general.

“Not only did the relational database market grow, but the market for enterprise applications that incorporated relational database technology became almost ubiquitous, for lack of a better term,” Schubmehl said. A similar trend is starting to emerge for cloud vendors and AI capabilities.

“We’re seeing it as the second generation of cloud initiatives,” he said.

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