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Bank of New York Is Proof That Self-Service Is Not Science Fiction

April 20, 2017
  • Distinguish self-service sheen versus substance
  • Learn how Bank of New York Mellon has started down the self-service path
  • Gain insight into BNY’s plans to expand the use of self-service

Self-service is about increasing access to infrastructure and improving employee productivity

Based on recent YouTube uploads, it appears de rigueur for infrastructure companies to have a glossy video showing off an Amazon Alexa integration. While we’re pointing fingers, we’ve got two thumbs pointing right at ourselves, since we’ve got videos that tout the potential to manage Tintri via Slack and Alexa.

But there are important differences in these videos. Some of them are science fiction, where the agent (Alexa or otherwise) orders coffee and comments on your hairdo. Cute and irrelevant. Others show no value-add; the agent simply provides a read-out of the data available on the product’s dashboard.

The reason Tintri is pursuing self-service is different—we want to simplify access to enterprise cloud infrastructure. The interface (Slack, Alexa, etc.) is but one small element; more important is the ability to abstract away complexity and apply automation to execute requests.

Allowing the LOB or DevOps teams to access infrastructure is no good if they’re asked for deeply technical details like queue depths, LUN locations and QoS policies. So, Tintri abstracts that away and lets non-experts request what they need, in their terms. And then underlying automation and orchestration drives action, including routing requests through decision makers to ensure the right level of control.

Bank of New York Mellon is a great example of an organization that understands the potential of self-service and has a progressive approach to enterprise cloud. We were thrilled to see their story in a Wall Street Journal blog about their work with ChatBots, automation and Tintri that included these excerpts:

“Bank of New York Mellon Corp. is building a voice-controlled artificial intelligence platform that can help the firm’s IT staff manage enterprise storage, at a time when analysts predict information technology infrastructure will become more automated.

By this fall, the internal, proprietary AI chatbot called Alexis is expected to be available to thousands of IT employees in an effort to help them automate manual storage-related tasks.

“Instead of having to find out and memorize how to do very mundane tasks, somebody will be able to ask a question or pose a command to (Alexis) in a very natural way and then have that action be completed,” said Marek Kwasniewski, vice president and head of platform architecture at BNY Mellon.

Mr. Kwasniewski plans to roll out the technology to about 10,000 IT employees. He also plans to offer the Alexis virtual assistant technology to all 55,000 BNY Mellon employees around the world, who will be able to use the chatbot for human resources questions and technical help.

IT employees will be able to communicate by voice or text with Alexis, integrated with the enterprise collaboration tool Skype for Business, on a desktop. They can ask questions such as “How much performance is my array giving me?” and “How’s my de-duplication rate?” and also ask Alexis to perform tasks such as provisioning storage.

Smaller IT groups with employees specializing in areas such as data, security and mobility, as well as new roles encompassing business processes and the regulatory environment, will add more value to the overall company because they’ll be free to work on technologies to grow revenue and projects that will result in competitive advantages, said Marc Cecere, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, who authored a March 27 report on the future IT organization.

At BNY Mellon, Mr. Kwasniewski anticipates that Alexis will help IT employees who manage and provision storage save up to 20 minutes on manual tasks they might need to do multiple times a day, which involve logging into various systems and pulling information from each. This ChatOps model, in which employees work with chatbots to get tasks done, means the company can “give people back time,” Mr. Kwasniewski said.

“We want them to do knowledge work, we want them to be innovative,” he said.

BNY Mellon’s engineers are working on the project with Tintri, which provides an enterprise cloud storage platform and products for virtual machines, and is backed by $260 million in venture capital funding.

“The data center, to some degree, has been in the dark ages,” said Kieran Harty, co-founder and chief technology officer of Tintri. “A lot of stuff has been very manual, but that’s completely changing over the last few years and we think there’s an enormous opportunity to automate.”

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