IDC Introduces an Interoperable Framework for Artificial Intelligence (AI) Infrastructure Stacks and Assesses the AI Infrastructure Stacks Currently on the Market

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#AI–Two new reports from International Data Corporation (IDC) offer a first look at infrastructure stacks for Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications. In the reports, IDC defines an interoperable framework for infrastructure stacks to deploy AI applications, referred to as the AI Plane (AIP). The reports also discuss vendor-specific implementations of AI infrastructure stacks that are currently available in the market.

As building AI capabilities becomes increasingly urgent, IDC sees that businesses are confused about the process of building their own AI infrastructure stack. IDC is seeing a growing number of AI server, storage, and processor vendors develop AI stacks that consist of abstraction layers, orchestration layers, AI development layers, and data science layers that are intended to seamlessly operate together. These stacks typically combine open source software, proprietary software, and nonmonetized commercial software (such as CUDA) layers that are intended to help customers’ IT infrastructure teams, developers, and data scientists collaborate on a predesigned stack without having to build it themselves.

IDC believes that AI infrastructure stacks provide a clear advantage to customers and that their variety is, while confusing, not a disadvantage. IDC does not expect vendors to collaboratively develop a “standard” AI infrastructure stack – this would defeat the advantage for customers of having multiple flavors to choose from. By offering an AIP framework, IDC hopes to provide a guide for IT vendors, encouraging them to improve the versatility of their stack, thereby increasing its ubiquitous adoption.

“Businesses are benefiting tremendously from the AI infrastructure software stacks that server, processor, and co-processor vendors are making available, several of which we are highlighting in these reports,” said Peter Rutten, research director, Infrastructure Systems, Platforms and Technologies at IDC. “But buyers should be aware of complexity and a lack of interoperability with these stacks.”

“Infrastructure requirements for AI workloads can be viewed as a function of scale, portability, and time,” said Sriram Subramanian, research director, Infrastructure Systems, Platforms and Technologies at IDC. “With so many choices and options available, end users are often perplexed about the right infrastructure stack. AIP provides a simple framework to select the right infrastructure stack, with accommodations to considerations on cost, flexibility, and infrastructure utilization.”

IDC recommends technology buyers to thoroughly investigate the entire AI stack that server vendors offer and to explore options beyond their regular hardware supplier. IT benefits to keep in mind when examining reference stacks include reduced costs, data and application availability, effective infrastructure consolidation and, where possible, a single interoperable application delivery platform. IDC also recommends technology vendors to focus on interoperability among AI infrastructure stacks.

The IDC report, The “AI Plane”: An Interoperable Framework for Artificial Intelligence Infrastructure Stacks (IDC #US46283420), introduces AI Plane (AIP)—an interoperable framework to select the right infrastructure stack to power AI workloads. The report also introduces two specific implementations of AIP: Open AI Plane and as-a-Service AI Plane. IDC recommends that enterprises leverage the AIP framework when selecting an appropriate infrastructure stack to power AI workloads.

The IDC report, AI Infrastructure Stack Review H1 2020: The Rapid and Varied Rise of the AI Stack (IDC #US46291620), assesses some of the AI infrastructure stacks that are currently available on the market, including the stacks offered by Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, Cisco, Huawei, and HPE.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,100 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC’s analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world’s leading tech media, data and marketing services company. To learn more about IDC, please visit Follow IDC on Twitter at @IDC and LinkedIn. Subscribe to the IDC Blog for industry news and insights:


Peter Rutten

Sriram Subramanian

Michael Shirer