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Greg Statton

Office of the CTO – Data and AI, Cohesity

Technology experts underline the importance of safety and security as businesses and organisations introduce generative artificial intelligence to improve efficiencies.

Generative artificial intelligence (genAI) is transforming the enterprise landscape with more businesses looking to bring it into their operations. However, it is essential to safely introduce responsible data access for it to be effective.

AI unlocking complex technical data

Greg Statton, IT expert from Cohesity, is responsible for the company’s data and AI strategies. He points to the growing role of generative AI chatbots, such as ChatGPT, in translating complex technical data into human-readable language in seconds.

“With CEOs worldwide wanting to see investment into generative AI because they hope for efficiency gains, every IT team will sooner or later have to find answers on how they can utilise AI tools. However, if IT teams use AI too ambitiously and quickly, they could unknowingly open up new security gaps.”

Responsible AI integration

Statton’s advice to IT teams looking to leverage the potential of this technology without creating new gaps is to introduce AI in a controlled, responsible way. Cohesity’s responsible AI principles include: transparency, to protect access to the data with role-based access controls; governance, to ensure the security and privacy of data used by AI models and the workforce; and access, to integrate indexed and searchable data securely and easily while ensuring data is immutable and resilient.

Statton, who has seen the company evolve from a small enterprise to a major technology company over the last decade, became intrigued by GPT3 technology’s ability to generate new text on a given input.

From that, he developed a prototype that could unlock data internally to answer questions using a large language model. However, he realised that customers may also benefit from a product that could unlock data from their long-term storage and backups.

The approach is designed to help customers use their backup data safely and efficiently. It is based on four main pillars: data protection; data security; data mobility; and data access.

Enhancing backup data utilisation

Backup data requires protection against cyberattacks, must be easily movable for seamless efficiency and be accessible on demand. “We wanted to see what more value we could bring to that,” Statton says. “We wanted to be able to provide tools to help unlock value or hidden potential of that data for our customers, so we introduced our insight pillar.

“Cohesity Gaia is the first release within that insight pillar, which combines the power of large language models with that vast repository of data to help drive conversational search, knowledge management and question and answering,” he adds.

The approach is designed to help customers use their backup data safely and efficiently.

Semantic indexing for data retrieval

“Customers can create a semantically aware index of data, allowing the system to find source material deep inside their own data to help answer their questions. All of this is using ‘natural language,’ meaning no need for complex code or query languages.”

Backup infrastructure is the only platform in the data centre that maintains a complete copy of all the enterprise data in one place and across all time. Statton adds: “If that backup platform is intelligent enough, it can leverage that data to drive operational efficiencies with the help of generative AI.”

A company could ask any business-related or technical question that can be answered by reading all documents ever created by the enterprise — but without having to search, consume or understand that vast library. Companies reuse backup data while safeguarding proprietary information from accidental exposure. “On top of that, you can apply access controls to the end user,” he adds.

Transforming tech with natural language

Statton concludes: “GenAI is really changing the expectations that individual consumers and enterprise customers have on technology; they are realising they can interact with technology in a more natural language way. These are important technologies to bring to the enterprise, but we can’t forget the guiding principles of safety and security when doing so.”

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