Building the future of AI and data storage: Vast CEO Renen Hallak weighs in

Building the future of AI and data storage: Vast CEO Renen Hallak weighs in

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In a rapidly evolving world of technology, the future of artificial intelligence and data storage plays a crucial role in shaping industries and businesses.

Renen Hallak (pictured), founder and chief executive officer of Vast Data Inc., has been at the forefront of this transformation. In an exclusive interview, he shares his vision for the future and how Vast Data’s platform is poised to change the way the enterprise manages and utilizes data.

Vast Data’s journey began with an ambitious vision — enabling fast access to vast amounts of information for AI applications. Hallak’s inspiration stemmed from the realm of AI even before the storage system’s development started.

“It was all about how do we give fast access to a lot of information to enable these new algorithms and these new applications,” he said. “And this is one more step that we make in that direction.”

Launching its data platform in 2019 was a big step, but the groundwork started long before. It was in 2016 when Vast began working on a storage system designed to support the AI of the future, even though at the time, AI was limited to finding cats in YouTube videos, according to Hallak.

“We didn’t have confidence. We didn’t know that it would work,” he said. “We didn’t know that this path was the right one, but we thought that if it was possible to do the things that we presented in this keynote, it was worth a big bet.”

Hallak spoke with theCUBE industry analysts John Furrier and Dave Vellante at the Vast presents: Build Beyond event, during an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. They discussed Hallak’s vision for the future of AI and data storage through Vast’s platform, highlighting the journey to real AI, the power of scale and the rise of data developers. (* Disclosure below.)

The journey to ‘true AI’

AI today is impressive, but it still lacks true intelligence, Hallak pointed out. While today’s systems excel at natural language processing and pattern matching, they fall short when it comes to generating genuinely new ideas. However, he firmly believes that technology is on the cusp of true AI, where machines will generate original thoughts and solve complex problems. He anticipates that innovation and the pace of change will continue to accelerate as more people embrace the possibilities of AI.

“We’re a lot further along than I thought we would be in 2023 and definitely a lot further along than we were when we started,” Hallak said. “As more people see that something is possible, they try it and they innovate on top of it. And [tech] acceleration happens just from that.”

Vast’s unique architecture is centered around scale, performance and resilience. It was designed to break the traditional trade-offs between storage and data systems and allows qualitative advantages with more data, according to Hallak.

“With more information, you turn from a quantitative advantage to a qualitative advantage, and new abilities emerge as you give these systems more data,” he said.

This ability to handle exabyte-scale data opens up new possibilities across various industries. For example, autonomous driving companies can use Vast’s technology to enable cars to collaborate and tackle complex problems through real-time data access.

The rise of the data developer

The paradigm is shifting, and data is becoming the focal point of application development, Hallak explained. He envisions a future where all developers become data developers. Applications will revolve around data manipulation, analysis and insight generation.

“We used to have applications, and they were at the center,” he said. “They were writing to storage systems and reading from storage systems and from databases. Now we have data and data flows in and data needs to be manipulated and cleaned and authenticated and encrypted.”

The introduction of these data functions as data flows into a system is driving a fundamental shift in the development paradigm, leading to a more data-centric approach. This transformation is already taking place in new workloads and is expected to be adopted across all types of workloads, Hallak added. Vast Data aims to make this transition seamless, supporting standard interfaces and keeping the development process easy and simple.

As data becomes more critical, industries are creating their own clouds tailored to their specific needs. Vast sees itself as an enabler for these clouds, partnering with technology leaders, including Nvidia, to provide the underlying infrastructure. With applications across various domains, from finance to healthcare and beyond, the company believes it’s uniquely positioned to support and manage data for these industry clouds.

Vast’s customers will reap the benefits of scale as they gain access to previously untapped insights, according to Hallak. The platform’s ability to analyze extensive amounts of data in real time empowers organizations to make data-driven decisions that were once unthinkable. Whether it’s Pixar reusing characters in films or genome sequencing companies conducting cutting-edge research, scale has become a game-changer.

While luck plays its part, Hallak acknowledges the hard work behind Vast’s success. Being in the right space at the right time has undoubtedly contributed to the company’s growth. Its determination, focus on customers and ability to stay ahead of the curve has propelled it to become the fastest-growing infrastructure company in history, according to Hallak.

“We’ve been growing since we started … we’ve been growing in a very efficient manner,” he said. “We’re not burning through cash in order to fuel that growth. We’ve been generating cash for the last few years.”

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Vast presents: Build Beyond event:

(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the “Vast presents: Build Beyond” event. Neither Vast Data Inc., the sponsor of theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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