Hey Supercomputer, Pause and Smell the Roses! Enjoy these Fall Colors!

Published by: Srini Chari

I received an email on my Smart Phone a while ago from Herb Schultz (Marketing Manager, IBM Systems and Technology Group for Technical Computing and Analytics) with the agenda for IBM’s Technical Computing IT Analyst meeting the following week in NYC. I was having lunch then at one of my favorite restaurants in Duchess County, New York – McKinney and Doyle. While munching some delectable crispy calamari and realizing that the agenda covered Cognitive Computing, a train of thoughts sprouted in my mind. Was IBM planning to brief us on supercomputers that can smell, see, hear, touch and taste?

I was told once by a gourmand that fine food must appeal to all our five basic senses. As our waiter came from behind me and brought the food, I first smelled a pleasing aroma. Then, the calamari served over citrus coleslaw with sweet and sour chili sauce was a gorgeous sight. Each calamari piece that I touched was perfect – not soggy or oily. When I placed the warm, crispy and coarse calamari on my tongue, it produced a delightful tingle. I then began slowly munching each piece; enjoying the gentle rhythmic crackling sound with every crunch while simultaneously savoring the mouthwatering taste. I thought – Is IBM going to tell me that all these fine sensations will soon be replaced by a computer? Being a foodie, that prospect was disappointing!

Fortunately No! – It’s Also about the Next Evolution of Big Data Analytics!

When I went for the briefing the following week in New York, I realized what IBM’s vision and path to Cognitive Computing is not illusory, exotic and far out into the future. But it is a natural evolution of a Big Data trend that’s happening today in areas such as healthcare and in other industries that are leveraging Big Data for Insights, Knowledge and Wisdom. In many ways, this vision of Cognitive Computing is similar to the Georgia Tech Cognitive Computing Laboratory vision.

A few weeks later at the IBM Edge Conference, when I was having a dinner (again savoring another delectable appetizer) with Jay Muelhoefer (Worldwide Marketing Executive, IBM Platform and Technical Computing) and his team, I learnt that IBM had won a major competitive deal with an Asian Communications Service Provider (CSP) running a Big Data workload. Jay suggested that it would be good to write up this case study to highlight the use of Big Data in Telecommunications and how IBM improved Customer Service for this CSP.
For the customary Cabot Partners’ fee, I signed up to write this paper – Big Data: Delivering an Agile Infrastructure for Time-Critical Analytics in Telecommunications – which you can download by filling out a simple form.

Supercomputing: It’s more than Just About Absolute Performance

Just like the right balance of the five senses satiates and heightens an individual’s dining experience, to maximize business value, supercomputers must possess five critical elements – performance, reliability, manageability, efficiency and serviceability. This requires – as illustrated by the Telecom example – a combination of hardware, software and skilled people all working in tandem to maximize a client’s business value – just like a memorable dining experience requires fine food made with the freshest ingredients, a nice ambiance and great company.

As We Hurtle Towards Supercomputing 2013, Chill! There’s Value in Slowness!

When the world’s fastest supercomputers are unveiled next month in Denver, Colorado, there will undoubtedly be much media hoopla around the Top500 list. IT vendors will compete fiercely as they always do. They will incessantly brag about their position in this list and how fast their systems are in the Top500 benchmark. But amidst all this noise, you should also be cognizant of the other key elements (senses) that must also be measured and highlighted for supercomputers (cognitive computers).

But pause, let’s step back, take a deep breath and realize that according to some philosophers this sensory world is just an illusion – They call it Maya! In a Mayan world, does it matter that computers can smell, see, touch, hear and taste?

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