IBM executive calls for reality check on AI and continued focus on telco APIs


Two of the major topics of discussion at MWC Barcelona this week have been around artificial intelligence and application programming interfaces or APIs. For an executive from IBM Corp., the conversation around AI can be frustrating in the midst of significant industry-wide interest.

“I’m a little bit frustrated, if I’m honest, about some of the messaging and the things that have been said at the show,” said Andrew Coward (pictured), general manager for software networking at IBM. “We are in this massive hype cycle at the moment around AI: ‘AI is going to fix all of this stuff that’s broke.’ I think there’s a really big reality gap between the promise that’s been told and where we are as an industry and what needs to happen to actually realize the outcome.”

Coward spoke with theCUBE Research analysts John Furrier, Dave Vellante and Savannah Peterson at MWC Barcelona, during an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. They discussed the importance of network orchestration for AI deployment and positive signs for the telco industry in API adoption. (* Disclosure below.)

IBM focuses on integration of telco ops with enterprise IT

The bottleneck, according to Coward, is centered around telecom’s integration of its operations with enterprise IT. Projects, such as increasing Wi-Fi access for a major sporting event, can’t be easily accomplished through an AI solution today.

“Say I would like to increase [wireless] capacity to the stadium for FC Barcelona by 20,000 spectators and make sure that all of the public transport is covered,” Coward said. “What I’m typing in, what has to happen today, that might be a three-to-four-week process for most telcos, because they don’t have the orchestration across their systems to go do that.”

Much of IBM’s efforts are focused precisely on this aspect, including ensuring that organizations have the appropriate data, access to that data and the necessary orchestration tools in place. IBM has also been focused on strengthening its capabilities for API deployment and management in hybrid cloud environments. This emerged as a key topic at MWC during the week, according to Coward.

“Telco-wise at the show, the other topic that’s been happening has been around APIs, the ‘APIfying’ of the networks themselves,” Coward added. “That to me is the really important step that, finally, we’re taking seriously as an industry. Until we do that … we don’t have a fully programmable infrastructure and network.”

Here’s the complete video discussion, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE Research’s coverage of MWC Barcelona:

(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the MWC Barcelona event. No sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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