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Awoogah, enterprise bods: Tintri recruits Echo Alexa speechbot

Bleeding – speaking – edge of sysadmin interface development

Listen up. Storage array vendor Tintri has a video demonstrating that speech-recognizing Amazon Echo's Alexa can be used to trigger array system management ops. Is this a profound industry first, ushering in a whole new sysadmin landscape, or just eye candy-style gimmickry?

Tintri has already demo’d a Slack chatbot management interface, which was a storage industry – and probably an IT industry – first. We speculated about an Alexa-type interface, found a CloudExpo session suggestion and now here it is for real – in demo terms, that is.

Tintri has moved on from the typed to the spoken word.

In the YouTube video below, Tomer Hagay, Tintri’s director of technical marketing, tells Alexa to provide the status of a system, provision three VMs, and then report on the operational status of an array. Hagay joined Tintri in January, coming from being Seagate’s director for technical marketing. He was at Cisco before that.

Hagay, sitting at a desk with a laptop and Echo device on, says Alexa and Tintri can be used for data center and cloud automation. The video starts with him saying: “Alexa; ask Tintri what it can do?”

Alexa replies (in speech) “Provision VMs. Take snapshots. Apply QoS. Add production data to VMs. Provide real-time stats and many more.”

Hagay then tells Alexa to provision three VMs and receives spoken, vCenter display, and email confirmation that it’s been done.

Youtube Video

He then says: “Let’s check the status of our data centers and that would be: ‘Alexa, ask Tintri how’s my enterprise cloud performing today’.”

Alexa replies: “Querying Tintri analytics. Everything running normally. Operating at 58 per cent capacity and 40 per cent performance. Three VMs are above latency threshold.”

This video, Hagay says, shows Alexa and Tintri being used for cloud automation. Now, we could be in danger of over-literal interpretation here, but cloud automation is far more than just storage array management automation.

This is just a rough-cut demo, but it shows an astonishing type of system management with speech input and output to a Tintri array. We understand a Slack chatbot is interposed between Alexa and the Tintri array, and that an Alexa skill is involved.

We’re going to talk to Tintri to understand more about this, and how it sees the future of this speechbot interface to its storage. We'd also like to know what potentially might be beyond it, how clever the AI/machine intelligence behind it is, and how and why it might enhance the system administration role.

Reg Comment

Visually snazzy marketing graphics are sometimes called eye-candy. This Tintri Alexa demo is speech candy. It is unique in storage, and indeed, IT system administration as far as we know. This is the bleeding – well, speaking – edge of system administration.

Here's the big, the huge, question: is this just a sexy gimmick or a real advance in system admin efficacy that will have profound and widespread effects? Will it, for example, enable users to do their own admin and get all sysadmin staff sacked? Or will it turbo charge sysadmin staff productivity and make their jobs a whole lot better? ®

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