Pascal Polverini Discusses Open Access and AI

Open access and AI

Paul Tuohy: Hi everybody and welcome to another iTalk with Tuohy. Always nice when I get an opportunity to do an iTalk with one of my old friends. And for all that―this is one of my old friends. This is actually the first iTalk that we've done together. So hello―or should I say bonjour―or sorry no, should I say boungiorno to Pascal Polverini. Hello, Pascal.

Pascal Polverini: Good afternoon, Paul. [Laughs]

Paul: Oh my God. You've gone very British. So before we start Pascal, for anybody who may not have come across paths with you before, Pascal is a Frenchman who has been living in Italy for very many―for many years. I shouldn't say very many years. So Pascal, let's start with probably one of the things that you've been best known for over the last few years, which would be Open Access. So do you want to tell us maybe just a little bit about you see as being the―well, sorry. What do you think Open Access brings to the table?

Pascal: That's a good question because I think oOpen Access is very interesting because it endeavors to bind different technology together. In our platform, the IBM i, RPG is one of the main language still in use. Even if you use other languages like Java, PHP, Node or Ruby, you still are likely [to have] a lot of applications using RPG. Open Access will easily enable a bridge to merge your RPG technology with any other technology. In other words, with Open Access, someone very good could create an editor, and the main team of your RPG programmers could leverage this editor to continue to write RPG, but maybe on the other side they will use .NET or PHP, or Node or Java. Then with Open Access, you can almost change technology without changing technology, and this is the main asset of Open Access. The continuity between "new legacy," quote, and any new code you want to use to modernize your application.

Paul: Yeah, it's interesting. I think the key word that you use there, Pascal, is the word "bridge." I know one of the things that confused me quite a bit about Open Access when it first came out was that I was sort of seeing it as a―well I must say, I would probably have one of the critics I think initially of Open Access, and it took me a while to come around because I was seeing it as possibly a final solution for people to say "oh, look. You can keep your old RPG code. Now it will work for yet another 40 years for you, and you can just use Open Access." But I think the key thing here is that, as you say it, it actually helps you to bridge your way and combine with new technology. So it's a tool that you use during modernization.

Pascal: Exactly. It is like between the old and the new system you may want to have, you always have to think about what is the in-between moment, the coexistence moment, and Open Access is an excellent tool.

Paul: Yeah, so it's interesting, Pascal, as well, whereas on one side, one of the big things that you did with Open Access is this thing of the sort of the hereditary RPG on one side, but I know when we were―when we met up a couple of weeks ago, you were telling me about one of the new areas that you've embarked on. With IBM's big push towards this cognitive―this area of cognitive computing, you've honed in one of the key parts of it, which is the whole area of artificial intelligence. So do you want to share some of that with us?

Pascal: Of course. Of course. This is actually very fascinating. It started already a few years ago―two years ago, you remember the OpenPOWER Foundation?

Paul: Uh-huh.

Pascal: Start to exist and actually, this was Google talking with IBM to say "wow, your Power microprocessor is very interesting. We should set up an open organization to work with it," mainly against Intel, but the idea was great. Google working with IBM on technology and this foundation just then was created. After a few months, I wrote them to say "wow, this is very interesting. I would like to know more about what you are doing or to help if I can." Soon after, they wrote me back and I became an associate of the OpenPOWER Foundation. Since then, I'm following the different technology that can be developed within this mix of big brand. Then NVIDIA came in and NVIDIA did what is called the GPU, the graphical processor unit, which is now a fundamental asset of artificial intelligence because it enabled to process in a very fast way all you need. I then read whatever I could find or came to congress to―actually last year I went to California for the OpenPOWER Foundation to speak, and I was the only one representing the IBM i, which was interesting. That's when I realized―because everyone else was mainly from Linux or other technology, but no one really was there to talk specifically about the IBM i. Again, this was interesting because ideally within the IBM i, what we mainly are very suited to this kind of technology is we deal with application, business application, and that's a differentiation which is an advantage. It is like we are very good in vertical application. On the other side, you can think about other technology multimedia like Google and like Facebook, there are very good in horizontal application, and where cognitive system could act or artificial intelligence is to be transversal technology that combined this vertical and horizontal paradigm together. And that is why I believe within the IBM i community we have a lot to do to help this binding towards AI.

Paul: So yeah. It's―so my difficulty with this, Pascal, because I've been playing around a little bit in this cognitive area with stuff with Watson and that―as you know because you've actually been helping me out on some of it―but it's―I'm having difficulty sort of imaging where these two things link. You know, how the business links or where IBM i fits in on this, because of course like, when I'm thinking artificial intelligence, I'm thinking the computer on Star Trek. Right? So I mean, can you be a little bit sort of clearer on like where―how you see them fitting together, where you see that bridge coming in?

Pascal: Where I see this bridge coming in is at the end of the day, any application within the market will need to have a business purpose. In the IBM i platform, we are good in business application. This is one thing. Now AI is, let's say, everything else. The more we understand how to use it and the more wider we understand, it will become a business application. And artificial intelligence also needs fast processing, but also a lot of data. Then the more you want leverage AI, the more you need to use data outside or to expose your data outside to be able to have a lot of data; therefore, you exposure yourself. The more you expose yourself, the more security becomes predominant. We know the IBM i system is very good with security; therefore, there is clearly something to put together here, but the fundamental point is an application that will run within the market is a business application at the end of the day with or without artificial intelligence. That is why the two paradigms will have to converge together at some point, and with our platform, we can play a good game.

Paul: Yeah, it is. I mean, definitely on the point of security. I mean, the architecture that we have gives us a definite advantage over a lot of other operating systems and that out there. I suppose the fact that we're also talking about cloud―I mean our operating system has been a cloud system well since the very beginning, really, in its architecture, so yeah. So you think, Pascal, interesting times ahead?

Pascal: Oh yes, really personally I am just enjoying this new technology―how can I say that?―this new dynamic technology coming in, merging together different things from Internet of Things, from business application as we know them and finding many, many connection between them. And talk about the cloud, this is true, and the more we understand the cloud also becomes predominant and with our multi-tenant architecture, here too we've got something to say. That is why this is really interesting for where we come from.

Paul: Okay, Pascal. Well actually, there is a phrase that you use there and I think that just leads nicely into the personal side here. As you know, usually I end these talks by asking something personal of the person I'm interviewing, and I know what your answer to this is going to be. It is like the same as a lot of other people in the industry. So Pascal, what is it you like to do―I'm sorry. I'm just laughing because I know what the answer is―What is you like to do when you're not actually working on IT stuff?

Pascal: Actually, I like to―I like good food, or easy food, but good food would the main key word. You know I grew up in France. I'm now living in Italy in a quite interesting place to experiment about good food.

Paul: Yeah and I'm sorry. That is why I was laughing, Pascal. I was sort of going, "I'm asking somebody who grew up in France, who lives in Italy what they like to do in their spare time," and the word "food" came into the answer for some reason. [Laughs]

Pascal: Just to mention, if like, I hate eating, this would like a nightmare. [Laughs]

Paul: Okay, so a nightmare. Okay. Tell people where you live. Where in Italy you live, Pascal?

Pascal: Okay. It's an average size town called San Benedetto del Tronto in Italy, which is in the middle of Italy on the Adriatic border, on the east coast. It is at the same level as Rome, but on the other side to the east side.

Paul: Okay and so is that down in Umbria or is that in Tuscany?

Pascal: No. It's Le Marche.

Paul: Le Marche. Okay. Okay.

Pascal: Yes.

Paul: So you live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world and you like to eat good food and you like to cook good food. So what is one of your favorite things to make, Pascal?

Pascal: Actually last time we talk, I was just about to start the making of pie, tarts. I'm not sure about what the correct word in English, but the region is fantastic.

Paul: Yeah. So is that the one that you sent me the photograph of?

Pascal: Yes.

Paul: So you live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world and you like to eat good food and you like to cook good food. So what is one of your favorite things to make, Pascal?

Pascal: Actually last time we talk, I was just about to start the making of pie, tarts. I'm not sure about what the correct word in English, but the region is fantastic.

Paul: Yeah. So is that the one that you sent me the photograph of?

Pascal: Yes.

Paul: Oh my God. Okay. Okay, so Pascal, I'm going to end this iTalk now because I've got to get online and find out when the next flight I can get out there, because I got to get to you before that tart is gone. [Laughs]

Pascal: No problem. I will do another tart for the event.

Paul: Okay. Pascal, my friend, thank you. Merci. Gracias. Anything in multiple languages. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Pascal: Thanks to you, Paul, and see you very soon.

Paul: Indeed. Okay everybody. That's it for this iTalk this week. Tune in again soon for the next one. Bye for now.

Paul Tuohy has specialized in application development and training on IBM midrange systems for more than 20 years.

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