Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Monday, October 18, 2021

Deloitte’s Upcoming Center for AI Computing Aims to Help Customers Grow AI Use 

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With AI use continuing to grow in adoption throughout enterprise IT, Deloitte is creating a new Deloitte Center for AI Computing to advise its customers, explain the technology and help them use it in their ongoing business and growth plans.

Designed to provide a cloud-accessible accelerated platform that Deloitte clients can use to test and explore various AI strategies and tools, the infrastructure features six Nvidia DGX A100 systems, Nvidia Mellanox networking, high-performance storage and Nvidia software. The platform will be physically hosted in Deloitte’s datacenter in Hermitage, Tenn., but will also be part of a virtual service.

Based on Nvidia’s DGX POD reference architecture and harnessing the power of 48 A100 GPUs, the installation will serve as an AI acceleration engine for Deloitte’s clients, the company said. The new facility was announced on Tuesday (March 2).

“The Nvidia systems are being deployed this month and the center will be available to clients starting later in March,” Nitin Mittal, the AI strategic growth offering leader for Deloitte Consulting, told EnterpriseAI.

An Nvidia DGX A100, Image credit: Nvidia

Deloitte team members will serve clients through the center from several locations in the U.S. and India, said Mittal. The virtual services will start with 20-25 practitioners trained in skill sets including AI architecture, ML engineering, data science and front- and back-end development skills using Nvidia’s GPU-based architecture and accelerated computing infrastructure, he added.

“The center provides a platform for Deloitte to co-innovate and co-invest with its clients and speed the development of AI applications,” said Mittal. “As organizations accelerate the adoption of AI, the center provides them with a technology platform, deep AI expertise, and supercomputing resources to speed the development of a wide range of AI applications, from autonomous vehicles to digital contact centers to public sector innovation.”

Deloitte declined to disclose additional performance and capacity information about the new hardware slated for the facility. Nvidia's own specifications datasheet, however, lists the six DGX A100 machines as having a combined total of ~500 teraflops of peak double-precision, 1.0 petaflops of peak single-precision, and 7.5 petaflops of peak single-precision AI tensor performance.

A price tag for the project was not publicly disclosed, however DGX A100 systems list for $199,000 each.

Jason Girzadas, managing principal of Deloitte Consulting, said in a statement that his company’s collaboration with Nvidia “can enable clients to quickly deliver on the full promise of AI solutions to transform both their businesses and the basis of professional services.”

The new facility will significantly expand Deloitte’s ability to develop innovative AI products and services that previously were being undertaken by Deloitte’s AI Exploration Lab in Austin, Texas, and the AI Factory in Canada, according to the company.

A Logical Step: Analysts

Deloitte’s nascent AI center makes sense for the company and for its customers, Jack E. Gold, president and principal analyst with J. Gold Associates, told EnterpriseAI.

“All the major consulting and systems integrator companies have or are building out AI/ML teams to accelerate the tech for their clients,” said Gold. “So, for Deloitte to do this is not that big a surprise. But frankly, most of the SIs are using cloud-based systems on AWS/Azure/Google Cloud Platform infrastructure to do this rather than building out their own.”

Analyst Jack Gold

Based on the six DGX A100 systems being deployed at the start, “this sounds like a fairly modest installation of Nvidia boxes at Deloitte, so it’s not a major impact kind of announcement in the sense of where the production will run,” said Gold. “I still expect it to be out of a cloud provider or on-prem cloud solution at a customer site. This sounds more like a proof of concept facility for engineering purposes.”

At the same time, though, “if you’re a Deloitte customer, the ability of Deloitte to have in-house AI/ML is a plus as it enables a more robust engineering effort since all the assets are local,” said Gold. “But I don’t think this is really all that big of a deal competitively, as the other SIs probably have equal or greater assets to apply to projects.”

Nowadays all systems integrators, including Deloitte, “are going to enterprise customers and saying you need to have an AI/ML capability today and we can provide it for you,” said Gold. “By doing this, Deloitte hopes to show to its potential customers that it is a serious provider of AI services and can support a variety of client needs. Whether that is enough to put them ahead of the pack is another story. So, this is not an unimportant announcement – but I think it’s more about marketing messages than true competitive advancement.”

Analyst Charles King

Another analyst, Charles King, principal at Pund-IT, said that based on the hardware footprint for the new center, it will provide “an environment that Deloitte can use for developing its own AI projects and products and allow the company to help customers with similar projects.”

Such AI centers make sense for companies like Deloitte, particularly if they have practices in areas where AI development is popular, like financial services, healthcare, retail and ecommerce,” said King. “Creating a dedicated infrastructure and team for AI development could make sense.”

For enterprises looking at getting into or expanding their use of AI, the new services could be helpful, he said. “It largely depends on the depth of the relationship between the enterprise and the consulting services company,” said King. “Depending on the extent of their IT resources and personnel, some enterprises may be better off developing their own AI practices or leveraging public cloud AI services for project development.”

Analyst Karl Freund

Karl Freund, founder and principal analyst of Cambrian AI Research, said he’s also not surprised by the move.

“This is an indication of increasing interest in enterprises to leverage the potential value of AI, and Deloitte seems to understand that these organizations could use some help,” said Freund.

The new AI center will collaborate with the Deloitte AI Institute, which is charged with supporting the positive growth and development of AI. It also focuses on building ecosystem relationships that help advance human-machine collaboration in what Deloitte calls the Age of with, where humans work side-by-side with machines.

 

 

 

 

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