Elinar jumped at the chance to become an early adopter of a unique new IBM offering designed to support AI solutions: the IBM PowerAI toolset, and the hardware platform built to support it, IBM Power System S822LC for High Performance Computing running Ubuntu Linux.
“As soon as IBM made the announcement, we knew that the solution was exactly what we needed, and were first in line to get our hands on it,” recalls Juntunen. “It offers a combination of hardware and software with a level of capability that other vendors cannot match, solving many pain points to make it the ideal platform to develop and run AI solutions.”
Designed to deliver extremely high performance for resource-intensive workloads, the IBM Power System S822LC for High Performance Computing is the only architecture with NVIDIA NVLink Technology creating a direct, ultra-fast connection between CPU and GPU.
“The S822LC is faster than any server we have used before,” says Juntunen. “The per-core performance is better than anything else we have seen on the market, packing major computing capacity within a small footprint. When combined with the reduced latency we get from the direct CPU to GPU link, the results are truly impressive. This hybrid solution is very good at parallel computation, giving us scope for much more sophisticated modelling.”
The IBM PowerAI toolset is a software platform that includes the most popular machine learning frameworks and their dependencies, enabling easy, rapid deployment and optimized performance.
“PowerAI includes Torch, a deep learning framework that we were already familiar with, so as soon as we had downloaded it we were able to start development right away,” remarks Juntunen. “It frequently updates itself, ensuring our developers have the best possible tools at their fingertips.”
Elinar is using the IBM platform to augment its ECM software-as-a-service solutions with AI capabilities, incorporating IBM Datacap, IBM® Watson® and IBM BigInsights® software. In the future, the company will offer pre-built solutions to be deployed on-premises at its clients’ offices, most likely alongside ongoing management services.
Juntunen comments: “One example of our new solutions is around sales order processing. In the past, you needed people to look at each sales order, and type relevant information into a system, which is a slow and error-prone approach. Instead, we use IBM Datacap to capture data from sales orders. By building an AI model and using thousands of samples to train it to recognize the general output, it learns what to extract from the unstructured data.
“We are also working on a new solution that we call the Elinar GDPR AI Miner. Built on the IBM Power Systems and PowerAI platform combined with IBM BigInsights Text Analytics, it will use our unique AI capabilities to enable customers to mine huge amounts of GDPR data. Specifically, we will offer AI models for GDPR consent identification and data identification and extraction, which will help users to achieve compliance at lower cost and higher quality. These are just two of countless potential applications.”
By taking the leap and embracing AI solutions ahead of its competitors, Elinar can deliver game-changing benefits that delight existing clients and attract new business.
“Innovation is part of Elinar’s identity, and teaming up with forward-thinking organizations such as IBM helps us retain that first-mover advantage that wins us new market share,” explains Juntunen. “Many of our clients are only interested in the results we deliver, not how we do it. With AI techniques driven by IBM technology we can take our ECM solutions to an entirely new level, unmatched by our competitors. Also, AI skills are in short supply in the market place, so establishing ourselves as experts with help from tools like PowerAI is a great opportunity.”
Elinar is equipping its developers with the tools to excel, helping to shorten time-to-value. The high processing power of the IBM platform ensures that it can manage the huge volumes of data involved in running the AI solutions, enabling rapid response times.
“The IBM Power S822LC server provides at least twice the performance of our x86 platform; everything is faster and easier: adding memory, setting up new servers and so on,” elaborates Juntunen. “As a result, we can get new solutions to market very quickly, protecting our edge over the competition. We can also be confident that the platform can cope with anything we throw at it, seamlessly handling big data and huge numbers of parallel computations.”
The IBM solutions are helping Elinar to continue removing barriers to innovation while keeping costs tightly under control.
“Compared to our x86 platform, we found much fewer limitations to modelling using the Power solution—we are not quite sure how IBM has achieved it, but it’s a huge advantage to us!” says Juntunen. “One of our biggest—but most necessary—costs is development, so by increasing the productivity of our developers the IBM solutions contribute to our profitability.”
He concludes: “We think that the combination of IBM Power S822LC and PowerAI is simply the best platform for AI developers on the market today. For AI, speed is everything, and the IBM solution far outstrips the competition—nothing else comes close in our opinion.”