Will Cappell

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Will Cappell
Research Vice President
9 years at Gartner
29 years IT industry

Will Cappelli is a Gartner Research VP in the Enterprise Management area, focusing on automation, event correlation and fault analysis, management system architectures, and real-time infrastructure issues. ...Read Full Bio

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AI and IAM: a new blog by Will Cappelli

by wcappell  |  March 26, 2012  |  6 Comments

Welcome to my new Blog! I hope you’ll join me in the coming weeks and months so that, together, we can explore some of the fascinating developments that are taking place, both academically and commercially, on the borderlines between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Infrastructure and Application Management (IAM). There has always been a high volume of traffic between these two fields. In fact, a good case can be made that the market for independent IAM software first emerged as a result of the Cold War wind-down induced collapse of AI market in the late 1980s, when refugees from companies like Symbolics, Aion, and Thinking Machines (and their non-military investors) sought to recommercialize their IP in the form of service desks and event correlation and analysis systems.
In recent years, there has been a three to four order of magnitude increase in the amount of performance and event data which IT operations and application support teams need to process in order to anticipate, track and resolve performance problems. As a result, IAM vendors and practitioners are once again reaching out to AI technology and concepts in the hopes of discovering powerful and efficient techniques for discovering, analyzing, and reacting to patterns in large performance and event data volumes and the weak signals that indicate the presence of such patterns.

Responding to the prevalence of distributed computing and the Internet, the study of AI, itself, has undergone a rapid development as it has incorporated and modified the results of three fields: the graphical modelling of probability distributions, game- theoretic economics, and modal logic (the logic that studies the relationship between what is valid locally and what is valid globally.) The net result of this development is increasing sophistication in the representation and simulation of how groups of individuals (or automated agents) discover, analyze, and react to the presence of significant patterns. In other words, we have seen the emergence of a Social AI that is, increasingly, superseding (without negating) the more individual mind or agent oriented AI of the past. Some of these technologies and concepts have indeed already made their way into commercialized product but it is my belief that the impact of Social AI on IAM is only just beginning.
Beyond sharing and discussing some very interesting ideas, I am actually hoping that together we may be able to do a bit more. The Prisoners’ Dilemma is commonly used to introduce some of the basic issues in Game Theory. Two captured criminals are separately presented with the choice of either confessing to a crime or not confessing. They are told that if they both confess they will each receive a 1 year prison sentence. If one of them confesses, while the other does not, the one who does confess will get 5 years, while the one who does not confess will get off scot-free. Finally, if neither confesses, they will both get 4 years.

Each criminal reasons as follows: Suppose I confess. My partner in crime can do one of two things: confess or not confess. If he confesses, then I will get one year. If he does not confess, I will get five years. On the other hand, suppose I don’t confess. If my partner in crime confesses, then I am a free man. If he doesn’t confess, I will get 4 years. Whatever he does, it makes sense for me not to confess, so I won’t.
Since both criminals reason in an identical manner, they both wind up not confessing and both end up spending 4 years in prison. Clearly, it would have made a lot more sense for both of them to confess but that would require cooperation, guarantees, and shared knowledge which the situation did not provide.

I think that the IT market unfortunately often functions much like a Prisoner’s Dilemma. The knowledge gap between vendor and buyer can be an abyss. Buyers lack knowledge of the functional capabilities of the technologies being sold and vendors lack knowledge of the actual and potential business uses for the technologies in their portfolios. As a result, features and prices settle into stable but not optimal equilibria. Value that could be obtained by both sides is simply left on the table in the same way that the two criminals end up spending many more years in prison than they actually had to if they had been aware of all the possibilities.

By sharing knowledge and discussing novel opportunities for the application of AI to IAM problems, this blog, once again with your help, may move the IT market from the suboptimal equilibria to equilibria where at least some of that value that would otherwise just dissipate allows both vendors and buyer to better accomplish their respective goals. I am looking forward to the conversation!

6 Comments »

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kevin Conklin   March 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Will – great idea and sorely needed. Looking forward to the discussion.

  • 2 Ray Solnik   March 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Will, in the name of “prisoners’ dilemma,” or perhaps more pertinently “buyers’ dilemma,” I look forward to engaging in your dialog about keeping customers “out of jail,” so to speak. As a decade’s-long purchaser of IAM, APM, ITPA, and other software while running tech companies including OpSource and AT&T WorldNet, I have now transitioned to the vendor side of the equation and bring a critical sensitivity to the buyers’ dilemma. Appnomic customers, like so many others, are tired of having to research, test, learn, and then support the latest tools and technology. The dilemma is trying to make the right decision – and in a reasonable time frame. But, unlike prisoners’ dilemma, software buyers can talk to existing customers and obtain a free trial or very cost-effective proof of concept. Simple advice not always followed. In today’s SaaS and managed service world, innovative providers are heeding the customer call for simplified tools that provide clear benefits and value. For many Appnomic customers, we run the software solutions and provide the level one support for tools that plug into their current operations. Vendors willing to run and manage their own apps can gain a greater understanding of the difference between truly valuable features and software engineering creations that may not be particularly useful – however cool they are. Appnomic has a very realistic view of the potential of AIM and AI. Our hierarchical clustering analytics with machine learning deliver unique value for our clients. But prospective customers don’t have to take my word for it, they should ask our customers!

  • 3 Graham Gillen   March 28, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Will welcome to the blogosphere. May your readership comments be minimally devoid of vendor soapbox speeches (guilty).

    Look forward to reading it.

  • 4 A4Tech   April 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    There are some fascinating time limits in this article however I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity however I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

  • 5 wazne informacje   April 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Perfect piece of work you have done, this site is really cool with fantastic info .

  • 6 AI and the Future of Application Performance Management   June 22, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    [...] June 22nd, 2012 Kevin Leave a comment Go to comments Gartner’s Will Capelli has a new blog (AI in IAM) where he explores the role of artificial intelligence in Infrastructure and Application [...]