IBM Think: IBM’s Action Items for Hybrid, Automation, and Blockchain Objectives

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • IBM kept product announcements to a minimum, featuring a DevOps-oriented security monitoring tool.
  • Hybrid and multi-cloud were the predominant theme for the week.

After attending IBM’s annual mega customer conference under a virtual format, GlobalData offers three key action items for moving its hybrid and multi-cloud strategy forward, addressing operational issues via AI-infused automation, and improving customers’ grasp of blockchain’s potential.

AI and Automation Action Item: IBM needs to prioritize integration between its siloed automation technologies as part of a growing DevOps portfolio. A cohesive and comprehensive intelligent automation portfolio strengthens Red Hat OpenShift’s automated lifecycle management capabilities, necessary for helping customers with operational provisioning of modern application deployments.

IBM articulated the importance of AI’s role in helping move IT operations closer to a DevOps model. IBM Watson AIOps was announced to address CIOs’ top-of-mind concerns over security and resiliency of new IT infrastructures resulting from app modernization projects. The AI-powered capability works with ecosystem partners Slack and Box to help monitor and react to IT anomalies in real time.

The AI feature builds resiliency into the IT infrastructure, enabled for distributed workloads, in an effort to prevent problems from occurring or providing quick fixes when they do arise. The technology basically works by collecting log data from various storage systems, adding a security layer, and attaching Watson AI capabilities to determine unacceptable levels based on security policies; however, it’s not entirely clear yet how IBM is differentiating from current log analysis and security solutions. While the new capability targets IT operations engineers and site reliability engineers (SREs) which serve as primary resources for the design of new app architectures, IT infrastructure teams will also need to sign off on the solution’s benefits.

Hybrid Cloud Action Item: IBM needs to solidify its multi-cloud solution as part of its hybrid cloud strategy based on OpenShift. While IBM is in the process of integrating its platforms and operations services with OpenShift, through various IBM Cloud Paks, some developer tools and capabilities are currently optimized for IBM clouds but not necessarily for third-party cloud deployments.

Key to IBM’s hybrid efforts have been Red Hat’s achievements over the past year with RHEL CoreOS integration to strengthen automation and hybrid management by connecting RHEL, OpenShift, and IBM Cloud. As a result, IBM and Red Hat have developed a deeper strategy around DevOps-related technologies, including microservices tools and development frameworks, as well as AI services to support intelligent automation. IBM and Red Hat recognize the need for a lifecycle-complete cloud platform that supports customer and partner development, deployment, hosting, and management. IBM is keen to support its largest core customers in verticals such as banking and finance.

Blockchain Action Item: By highlighting IBM’s COVID-19 related initiatives, the company can help enterprises conceive of how such advanced use cases map back to their particular business objectives. For example, the MiPasa blockchain initiative as a data hub for verifying information for the COVID-19 cause lays down the foundation for a new class of data that can match up information across various sources to create new insights, leveraging AI and ML.

IBM has demonstrated thought leadership during a time of global crisis through initiatives including its participation in industry-wide blockchain consortium MiPasa and the release of its flagship data platform free to global health organizations. As an industry still in the midst of the pandemic, these activities would have provided an appropriate backdrop had IBM chosen to provide a rousing keynote on the current state of affairs.

IBM touched on some of its numerous COVID-19 related initiatives, as illustrated through IBM’s two-year-old ‘Call for Code Global Challenge’ campaign, initially launched in 2018 seeking innovative applications to address climate change. The program was expanded recently to also include COVID-19, which spurred a massive response, including 1,000 developer registrations in a single day soon after being announced. Presently, the program includes 300,000 developers across 168 countries.

In a COVID-19 era, we expect new custom solutions currently being developed for enterprises as part of IBM GBS will result in hardened products. Coronavirus has stepped up the importance of efficiently run business processes, e.g., supply chain, and solutions in the form of blockchain, AI and machine learning, cloud, and other DevOps technologies such as automation all represent key components of newly designed business architectures. Enterprises tackling aggressive transformations will not be able to leverage high-performance innovations such as these without an integrated hybrid and multi-cloud architecture supporting stringent operational requirements. At the same time, enterprises will be struggling with time constraints and reformatted budgets hindering their ability to invest heavily in entirely new infrastructures and app architectures. IBM needs to voice how it intends to help customers through the new normal, post COVID-19.

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