Despite the massive disruptions to normal operations and mission-critical activities as a result of the COVID pandemic, federal agencies are forging ahead with strategic AI programs and building their AI infrastructure. The Centers of Excellence initiative, started by GSA, which establishes governance models to strengthen the government’s use of modern technologies, is critical to continued advancement. While this is a significant step forward in adopting AI-driven programs, there are still obstacles to overcome. We spoke with Kelli Furrer, Vice President, Channel at Dell Technologies, and David Kushner, Vice President of Sales at ViON to discuss how government and private sector are collaborating to overcome these challenges.
“Artificial intelligence holds so much promise for the government,” Furrer shared in a recent conversation with Government Technology Insider. “AI applications can support numerous initiatives and key constituents, including supporting our citizenry more effectively, strengthening our federal workforce, and facilitating high-priority missions. Industry has experience the government can leverage in these areas.”
For Furrer, the most important aspects of this private-public collaboration center not only on having easy access to quality data, but also obtaining clear guidance to support use cases and a framework to drive consistency across government. “Government agencies are looking for the best way to harness the potential of all their data and industry can help by sharing best practices and creating a roadmap for modernization,” Furrer said. Added Kushner, “as we talk to our customers about building their AI infrastructure what they’re most struck by is how the hybrid cloud model really supports the mission and builds momentum to fast acceleration. When customers are trying to develop a proof of concept, using an on-prem cloud model for testing can expedite the implementation of AI quickly. It also enables them to make changes quickly to decide go/no go decisions.”
Indeed Dell’s relationship with AI infrastructure leaders like ViON has created an invaluable. For example, Furrer noted, Dell Technologies’ partnership with McLaren Racing, one of the top teams in Formula One racing. “We worked with McLaren Applied Technologies to help them design, prototype, and develop race car systems more rapidly using AI,” she said. “And we leveraged that experience to support autonomous vehicle design for the Department of Defense; a key priority identified by the federal CIO’s office.”
“The government is making notable investments in AI, with more than $1 billion in civilian AI applications alone,” said Furrer. “I think the cost of not modernizing is far higher than trying to manage workloads on antiquated systems. An agency can build on ViON and Dell’s state-of-the-art infrastructure and leverage ViON’s experience in delivering AI Infrastructure-as-a-Service, depending on the needs and size of the organization.”
There are advantages to deploying AI Infrastructure-as-a-Service, including the ease of having a pre-validated, pre-configured infrastructure that helps agencies achieve AI outcomes more quickly and at reduced risk. “Some agencies are looking to the public cloud in order to achieve the compute power that AI demands,” said Furrer. “When infrastructure is reimagined as-a-service, upgrades, maintenance, and a whole host of other non-mission-focused concerns are taken care of by a team for whom this is a priority.”
As our conversation wrapped up, Kushner reflected on the nearly two decades of experience he’s had helping customers build their IT infrastructure to support the mission. “Incorporating AI as part of that infrastructure offers agencies the opportunity to drive transformation far more quickly,” he shared. “Being able to access AI infrastructure as-a-Service further increases speed to mission by enabling agencies to build models and move to production quickly and with confidence knowing that they have an experienced industry partner supporting them every step of the way.”
Learn more about Dell and ViON’s Artificial Intelligence “as-a-Service” solutions here.