CompuCom Brings Artificial Intelligence To Midmarket Data Centers With Breakthrough Cloud-Based Managed Service

Sam Gross

CompuCom is set to deliver what it is calling the first-ever artificial intelligence (AI)-based managed service aimed at preventing midmarket data center downtime.

The new offering – which runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS) – uses machine learning and cognitive computing to uncover IT problems and quickly remediate them to reduce and even eliminate data center downtime.

The payoff for midmarket customers is dramatic, with as much as 70 percent of "level one" data center service calls eliminated, along with as much as a 30-times improvement in mean data center problem resolution times.

[The Race Is On: IBM, Google, Microsoft And AWS Aim To Deliver Machine Learning As A Cloud Service]

Sponsored post

"This is a game-changer," said CompuCom Senior Vice President and CTO Sam Gross, who spearheaded the development of the service. "What we have is technology that reacts cognitively the way a data center administrator does."

Gross said the new converged infrastructure managed service delivers major improvements in incident response times.

"It usually takes at least 15 minutes to resolve even the simplest data center failure. With our complete robotic process automation platform that time is reduced to as little as 30 seconds," Gross said. "Outages that used to impact midmarket productivity go to nothing more than a blip on the radar screen."

The service delivers a whopping 30 percent to 40 percent savings in midmarket infrastructure management costs, Gross said.

"Not only is there a cost savings but the overall improvement of the service experience is significant," he said. "We are bringing services to the midmarket that have previously not been available. That's what is really exciting here."

The new managed service offering is being piloted by select CompuCom customers with a plan to roll it out widely to midmarket customers in the fourth quarter. It is the culmination of 15 months of research and development aimed at providing the $1.9 billion Dallas-based systems integrator with the leading midmarket data center managed services platform.

The service works with all of the major vendors' server, storage, networking and virtualization offerings including Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Dell, EMC, VMware and Microsoft.

Putting the new platform on AWS simplifies the rollout of the service for midmarket customers who are facing intense IT pressure in the fast moving technology market, said Gross. "We wanted to get rid of the friction, take the cost out and make it quick and easy," he said. "To do that you need a cloud model."

CompuCom plans to allow customers by 2017 to simply swipe a credit card to buy the converged infrastructure service, Gross said.

To build the underpinnings of the managed service, CompuCom teamed up with Arago, the Frankfurt, Germany-based maker of the HIRO (Human Intelligence Robotically Optimized) artificial intelligence platform.

HIRO is the "brain or the mechanism that brings together the knowledge, identifies the appropriate action and delegates those actions to the appropriate" midmarket data center technology, said Gross.

Arago Founder and CEO Hans-Christian Boos said the "multimillion dollar deal" with CompuCom strengthens his company's position in the U.S. market.

Arago's HIRO software provides human intelligence that is robotically optimized to automate IT problem solving, said Boos. "HIRO is a platform that can do anything that an [IT] admin can do, it can learn from actual experts," he said. "The only thing that it can't do is pick up the phone."

CompuCom selected Arago's HIRO after a rigorous review of the top 10 leading machine learning and cognitive computing platforms, said Gross. "We realized that not only were we aligned from a technology perspective but culturally aligned with how to solve these IT problems," he said.

"In our minds, there is no product in the marketplace today that actually delivers better results than the HIRO platform," Gross said. "What's more, it integrates with our end-to-end platform very, very well, almost seamlessly."

Gross said he sees the new services offering setting a new standard for midmarket data center operations. Up until now that market segment has been dominated by smaller MSPs that simply do not have the technology muscle to go head-to-head with CompuCom, he said.

"Those regional VARs or small managed services companies do not have the depth, physical assets, technical assets or scale to really help those midmarket customers the way CompuCom can," he said. "Lots of companies have tried to address that market without the high level of advanced infrastructure automation that we have. They aren't cost-effective and can't do a good job. They can't address that market appropriately."

CompuCom, which is owned by private equity giant Thomas H. Lee Partners, is spending in the neighborhood of $10 million a year on research and development to deliver breakthrough new services for midmarket customers.

That drive to provide better IT services economics to customers is at the heart of CompuCom CEO Don Doctor's "customer first" approach to the business, said Gross. "That is the secret sauce of CompuCom," he said.

CompuCom expects see 30 percent to 40 percent growth in its midmarket data center business as a result of the new service, said Gross.

That growth target comes with the price of midmarket infrastructure services declining at the same rate, said Gross. "We have to be prepared to cannibalize our legacy contracts in favor of delivering more contemporary, cost-effective solutions to our clients," he said.

Gross sees the new CompuCom services as a watershed moment in the history of IT with artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive computing reshaping the IT services experience for customers.

"The advances that have been made in machine learning are as significant to our industry as the browser was. This is huge," said Gross. "We are on the forefront of a revolution that is going to change everything, and people who don't get on board or can't get on board will wither. There is no question about it."

Jimmy Sheridan contributed to this story.