Auckland-based OSS Group has been appointed the first IBM general purpose machine learning partner in New Zealand after investing in local processing power.
A major IBM partner for over 20 years, OSS Group has invested in local server resources to perform GPU-based machine learning and AI workloads at dramatically higher speeds than current platforms.
“Others have chosen to wait and see how the machine learning and AI market develops,” said Ian Soffe, general manager of OSS Group.
“We saw the chance to lead the local market in embracing IBM’s new technology.”
The company received its first IBM Power AI server just before Christmas, an AC 922 server containing traditional IBM CPUs paired with GPUs from Nvidia.
Nvidia’s GPUs were originally designed to conduct multiple parallel computations in order to play highly complex videos. The interconnect between CPUs and GPUs enables data to be processed at extremely high speed.
Use-cases for the technology are quite diverse and include financial services, utilities, IoT, medical and health. However, Soffe expects there to be a strong core of interest in the scientific and academic community.
“Some of our early conversations have been with agritech and biotech organisations who are running complex models to understand correlations and trends in large volumes of data,” he said.
In a recent training exercise running some example models on onshore GPUs, offshore GPUs, offshore and server CPUs, the server CPUs took many minutes to accomplish what onshore GPUs accomplished in seconds.
Soffe said many New Zealand customers struggle to find GPUs locally. When they can be found offshore, they are expensive to rent, especially for small workloads.
“It makes much more sense to trial small workloads on a locally available server where the computer is close to the customer’s data,” he said.
The OSS Group team will help clients across all the phases of the cycle from proof of concept through development and into a production.
“Not only can we run client models on our server, we can also procure, support, manage and operate client platforms if they choose to bring that technology on premise for their own devoted use,” Soffe said.
Becoming an IBM general purpose machine learning partner is OSS Group’s first step to building expertise in machine learning and AI.
“This is only the beginning,” said Soffe. “We’ll be expanding our capability over the next year with the goal of driving machine learning and AI growth throughout New Zealand.”