I have seen the future of IT, but have yet to fully understand it. IBM’s Watson cognitive computing push is going to drastically reshape how IT is run at the enterprise level.
Cybersecurity is a big, sexy story for AI applications. IT staff have to first detect a security intrusion, then define more specifically what is happening, who is doing it, and where it is coming from, and then ultimately defeat (remediate) the attack – call it a 3D approach.
Cognitive learning systems such as Watson can detect an anomalous pattern of events on a network with an always-watching eye, providing quicker recognition that an attack is in progress than what a human might notice. A human being can review the data, speeding up the process of research to define what is happening by using IBM QRadar with Watson, and an app is loaded with the latest security information. QRadar with Watson uses a knowledgebase of over a million security documents to provide information in defining the attack, providing the who/what/where/how of an attack to IT, so staff can more quickly start defeating the attack.
IBM officials said Watson provides a significant speed advantage in qualifying attacks, speeding up the process of defining an attack to minutes, as opposed to several hours of work for a human being that’s searching attack fingerprints, finding the most recent bulletins, and correlating all of the information from the searchers.
Ultimately, Watson may work on the third D – defeat the attack – but such a move would come “very carefully,” said David Kenny, IBM’s Senior Vice President, Watson & Cloud Platform. While some remediation actions could be automated, “We can get a timely decision to action faster today.”
This week, IBM announced Watson would also be used in a proactive security role. The MaaS360 Advisor uses machine learning to analyze devices on the network – smartphones, tablets, laptops, IoT devices, and other end points – and recommend policies, patches and customized best practices to better manage and protect them.
Part of the cloud-based IBM MaaS360 unified endpoint management platform, the cognitive assistant will process concepts such as device enrollment, identity management, and regulatory issues. Watson will also tap into IBM security data and insights from the Mobile Metrics benchmarking too to deliver context-driven best practices specific to a business.
IT managers will be able to have a conversational discussion with MaaS360 Advisor to better understand and manage endpoints, asking questions such as “Show new Android tablets” or “Show devices eligible for Windows 10 upgrade.” Administrators effectively get an AI assistant – just don’t call him HAL – to help automate the process of managing and securing an organization’s devices.
While cybersecurity is the area getting the most attention, you can be sure Watson and other forms of cognitive computing will end up doing a lot of day to day “grunt work” formerly done by IT staff in other areas, and will also go through large amounts of data on the network – security or otherwise, such as SDN/NFV – and provide recommendations on a course of action. This isn’t going to eliminate positions as much as free up staff time and enable IT to work smarter on other projects, rather than being bogged down in minutia.
If there is an area of job loss, it will be in the subcontractor arena. Companies that outsourced the aforementioned IT “grunt work” may find Watson to be a cost-effective solution that manages to keep things in-house without having to deal with W-2s and 1099s at the end of the year.
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