IBM Think at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Photo by Alex Coop.

Published: February 12th, 2019

San Francisco — IBM Corp. is bolstering its hybrid cloud offerings and making its AI crown jewel available on any cloud environment.

This means businesses can deploy Watson Assistant and Watson OpenScale, for example, and run it on premises, or on any private, public or hybrid cloud environment.

IBM is aggressively pushing to get its AI into the hands of enterprise customers, which consider AI as important part of their future, but have no idea how to get it. Large organizations are storing data across all kinds of cloud environments, so they need this level of freedom, said Rob Thomas, general manager for IBM data and AI.

“Businesses have largely been limited to experimenting with AI in siloes due to the limitations caused by cloud provider lock-in of their data,” said Rob Thomas, general manager for IBM data and AI. “By breaking open that siloed infrastructure we can help businesses accelerate their transformation through AI.”

Gartner says 81 per cent of enterprises don’t understand what data is required for AI, or how to access it. But according to an MIT Sloan report, 83 per cent of large organizations agree that implementing AI across the enterprise is a “strategic opportunity.”
It remains to be seen if large enterprises end up running Watson-based AI workloads on AWS, Microsoft and Google cloud platforms, all of of which have a greater market share over IBM, in addition to their own AI-based offerings.

New hybrid cloud tools

IBM also launched new hybrid cloud tools and services to help enterprises navigate the complexities around cloud.

It unveiled its IBM Cloud Integration Platform, a new platform meant to help speed up the launch of new services and applications across multiple cloud environments. IBM says it connects with services and applications from any vendor to create integration tools, cutting the time and cost of integration by 33 per cent, while allowing businesses to stay within their requirements for security and compliance.

IBM is also introducing IBM Services for Multicloud Management, building off of a recent partnership expansion with ServiceNow. It will integrate with ServiceNow Portal to configure and buy any cloud services from multiple cloud providers and offer data centre performance cloud health, container and AI ops management.

In addition to allowing its AI crown jewel to flow through any cloud environment, IBM is betting big that the hybrid cloud model isn’t going away. Sangita Singh, general manager for IBM’s cloud consulting services – the former Infosys executive vice-president and head of its healthcare and life sciences business is a relatively new addition to the IBM team, joining eight months ago – said hybrid cloud will be far more embedded in organizations years than it is today.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty seems to think so too, suggesting the hybrid cloud market is a trillion dollar industry, and that IBM plans to be the go-to vendor in that space.

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