The 5 most popular infrastructure stories of 2021 and what they reveal about 2022
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In Gartner’s Leadership Vision for 2022: Infrastructure and Operations report, Gartner analysts Nathan Hill and Tim Zimmerman share that in 2022, “infrastructure and operations leaders must deliver adaptive, resilient services that support continuous and rapid business change.”
In a similar vein, VentureBeat’s top trending stories on infrastructure from the past year have focused on the resiliency, adaptivity, integrity, interoperability, and flexibility of enterprise infrastructure and data. Improving infrastructure across industries is necessary to increase innovation and efficiency globally.
Nvidia and Bentley team up to streamline U.S. infrastructure
In April, Bentley Systems forged several partnerships that make it easier to share realistic construction simulations with a broader audience. This goal is to help drive the adoption of digital twins, which have increasingly been used for advanced simulations across the construction industry.
Bentley, a leader on the technical side of modeling infrastructure, extended its digital twins platform to support the Nvidia Omniverse ecosystem. The integrations should make it easier to share realistic models to stakeholders, including decision-makers, engineers, contractors, and citizens affected by new projects.
The combined advances from Bentley and Nvidia may help streamline the design and rollout of a $1.9 trillion U.S. infrastructure overhaul proposed by the Biden administration. Along these lines, Bentley’s software — which is part of the State of Minnesota’s plans to save more than $4 million per year using the company’s tools to improve inspection and documentation of 20,000 bridges — is just an example of the efficiency that may come for the country as a whole.
Of course, revamping the U.S. infrastructure to make it more efficient is a lofty goal that will take substantial resources and time, but the significance of the announcement from the two companies is their development of photorealistic, real-time visualization and simulation of digital twins of massive-scale projects such as those that involve industrial and civil infrastructure. Any progress in the direction of bolstering infrastructure capabilities nationwide will allow the U.S. to look at improving the systems in place to perhaps enhance and accelerate projects such as the widely discussed Hyperloop that Elon Musk has proposed.
“The integration of the capabilities of the Bentley iTwin platform and Nvidia’s Omniverse [will] enable users to virtually explore massive industrial plants and offshore structures as if they are walking through the infrastructure in real time, for purposes such as wayfinding and safety route optimization. The industry is moving in a positive direction toward more automated and sophisticated tools that improve client outcomes,” according to a press release on the partnership between Bentley and Nvidia.
Can open-sourcing agriculture infrastructure optimize crop growing?
Just as strengthening infrastructures nationwide can improve construction and engineering project efficiency, the opportunity to enhance processes like agriculture can also be derived from making improvements to the infrastructures in place.
Earlier this year, the Linux Foundation unveiled an open source digital infrastructure project aimed at optimizing the agriculture industry, known as the AgStack Foundation. It’s designed to advance collaboration among key stakeholders throughout the global agriculture space, ranging from private businesses to governments to even academia.
Across the agriculture sector, digital transformation has ushered in connected devices for farmers and myriad AI, as well as automated tools to bring optimization to crop growth and evade obstacles like labor shortages.
In a May press release, the Linux Foundation outlined what may result from the initiative, which “will build and sustain the global data infrastructure for food and agriculture to help scale digital transformation and address climate change, rural engagement and food and water security.”
Introducing digital twins and strengthening infrastructure to improve systems and fight global crises like climate change isn’t unique to the Linux Foundation, however. In November at its GTC conference, Nvidia announced its creation of a digital twin of Earth, also aimed at using the technology to model potential improvements and solutions to apply in the real world.
The matchup of infrastructure improvements and incorporating digital twin technologies is sure to continue as global leaders aim to solve problems that were previously deemed next to impossible.
In the short term, these advancements will help address the loss of productivity and will lay the groundwork for further and larger-scale innovations by making access to open digital tools and data for revamping infrastructures, available to industry professionals.
The vitality of infrastructure-as-a-service
Rescale, a San Francisco-based startup developing a software platform and hardware infrastructure for scientific and engineering simulation, used funding it raised earlier this year to further the efforts of its research, development, and expansion. Since then, the company has signed new partnerships and catapulted to explosive growth. In November, Rescale was named as one of Deloitte’s 2021 Technology Fast 500 fastest-growing companies.
The fast-paced growth should be unsurprising, given the company’s focus on providing infrastructure-as-a-service, in what has progressively become a digital-first world for workplaces spanning across industries.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted several industries and businesses online, partially — and in many cases, fully — infrastructure has proven to be a core component to successful operation.
“Industries like aerospace, jet propulsion, and supersonic flight all require massive computer simulations based on AI and specialized hardware configurations. Historically, the science community has run these workloads on on-premises datacenters that they directly built and maintain,” a Rescale spokesperson told VentureBeat via email last February. “Rescale was founded to bring HPC [high-performance computing] workloads to the cloud to lower costs, accelerate R&D innovation, power faster computer simulations, and allow the science and research community to take advantage of the latest specialized architectures for machine learning and artificial intelligence without massive capital investments in bespoke new datacenters.”
Rescale hopes to enable customers to operate jobs on public clouds such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM, and Oracle — and it additionally makes a network available to those customers across eight million servers with more than 80 specialized architectures and resources like Nvidia Tesla P100 GPUs, Intel Skylake processors, as well as additional features.
The hype for larger industry use cases is big. Rescale’s infrastructure-as-a-service supports approximately 600 simulation applications for aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, life sciences, electronics, academia, and machine learning, including desktop and visualization capabilities that let users interact with simulation data regardless of whether the jobs have finished. This, in turn, allows professionals from nearly every sector to utilize testing, simulations, modeling, and more to improve their own products, services, and tools that are B2B or B2C-facing.
Scaling infrastructure for a cloud-centric world
APIs and microservices have become critical tools to drive innovation and automation for companies, but also bring management challenges. It’s natural that enterprises are drawn to services that offer the potential to create greater flexibility, but in doing so, they must also find ways to coordinate with cloud-based services.
Kong is one of several new companies aiming to address the issue. Because many of the conveniences of our digitally connected lives rely on APIs that connect companies with vendors, partners, and customers — like using Amazon’s Alexa to play music over your home speakers from your Spotify account, asking your car’s navigation system to find a route with Google Maps, or ordering food for a night in from DoorDash — it would be next to impossible to do all of this efficiently and at scale without APIs and cloud technologies.
Kong’s flagship product, Kong Konnect, is a connectivity gateway that links APIs to service meshes. Using AI, the platform eases and automates the deployment and management of applications while bolstering security. Among its notable customers are major household names including GE, Nasdaq, and Samsung — with others to surely follow in 2022.
Managing the ever-changing landscape of infrastructure
If there is anything the past years have made clear, it’s that the importance and reliance on technology, regardless of industry, is increasing, and hyperconnectivity in our lives both individually and professionally is here to stay.
It is against this backdrop that Rocket Software acquired ASG Technologies this year to boost infrastructure management tools.
There is no shortage of competitors for Rocket Software. Tools and technologies to manage IT infrastructure are ever-present in the enterprise computing sector — spanning from public clouds to the edge. The management of data and the apps used to create that data are becoming more disaggregated with the influx of companies and individuals moving everything online. Expect the industry to demand more sophisticated tools that can efficiently and reliably manage infrastructure in this evolving space.
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