IBM Cloud – Building a Frictionless Experience for Enterprise Customers

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  February 24, 2021

It is undeniable that people and organizations have embraced cloud computing. The proof is in the steadily growing balance sheets of many cloud vendors, and in the continual rollout of cloud-based services for businesses and consumers. But amidst the good news, there are also some curious dichotomies.

For example, in a recent IBM-sponsored study 74% of enterprise CEOs said they believed that cloud computing will be the most helpful technology for their organizations to deliver results over the next 2 to 3 years. But at the same time, most IT industry watchers believe that only a fraction of mission critical workloads have moved to the cloud.

While it is likely that part of this seeming disparity relates to careful development efforts—no successful organization migrates critical workloads willy-nilly—it is also reasonable to assume that many others are simply not finding services that deliver the levels of security and performance they require.

How are vendors approaching these challenges? Recently, Howard Boville, SVP of IBM Cloud, hosted an analyst webcast where he discussed the company’s hybrid cloud strategy and its latest development efforts. IBM is clearly focused on the needs of large businesses—the company is synonymous with enterprise-class computing—and this sets it well apart from other cloud vendors. Let’s consider the points Boville raised during that event.

Changing rules and opportunities

Changes necessitated for businesses by the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted cloud services supporting new use cases, such as employees working from home (WFH) and video calls for individual meetings and group briefings or educational purposes. But these shifts, alongside increasingly active and dangerous threats from cyber criminals, have also put organizations on edge, especially when it comes to exposing business-critical data, applications and processes.

Boville noted three areas of particular interest and concern to enterprise customers:

  1. Backoffice and digital supply chain transformation – Enterprises are clearly intrigued by the efficiencies they can gain through modernizing and automating back office applications and supply chains. However, those processes play business-critical roles for most organizations so secure implementation and management processes are vital. Plus, the recent discovery of cyberattacks enabled by SolarWinds’ popular Orion software has raised awareness and concerns about third-party partners and suppliers.
  2. Vertical solutions and regulated workloads – Though the services and solutions supported by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are fine for general purpose processes and productivity needs, they don’t always suit the requirements of specific vertical industries or of companies whose businesses are highly regulated.
  3. Data privacy and confidential computing with always-on compliance – Consumers can and often do play loose and easy with the privacy of their personal data, but woe be it to any business with so laissez faire an attitude. That is especially true for companies required to follow strict regulatory compliance guidelines, including those in finance, banking, telecommunications and healthcare, and government entities.

IBM’s focus: Security, Confidential Computing and Cloud Satellite

How is IBM addressing these and other enterprise hybrid cloud challenges? Boville noted that rather than simplistically creating cloud “for the sake of cloud” that IBM instead develops and delivers an ecosystem of technologies and services designed to help clients safely and securely extract value from data sources across multiple source and locales.

Boville outlined the vital points of IBM’s hybrid cloud strategy:

  • Security and Confidential Computing – IBM’s Confidential Computing focuses on building applications with integrity from the ground-up, deploying them trustfully, offering simple, effective management tools and provides encryption and secure sign-in components wherever they are necessary. Boville also offered a chart showing that public cloud providers, including Microsoft Azure, AWS and GCP have few if any services comparable to IBM’s offerings here, including its HyperProtect solutions.
  • Built-in controls for de-risking third party supply chains – IBM’s OpenPages for Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) supports the assessment and analysis of risks associated with the vendors companies do business with, including third party supply chains. The company’s de-risking efforts extend to 80+ Financial Services partners, 40+ Telecommunications partners and 200+ enterprise software images.
  • Cloud Satellite—the “glue” for hybrid cloud – In May 2020, IBM announced the beta of Cloud Satellite, a distributed cloud solution which addresses the challenges businesses experience in hybrid cloud scenarios by providing consistent cloud services anywhere, including on premises, at the edge and on public clouds. IBM is hosting an event on March 9, 2021 that will outline the next phase and general availability of Cloud Satellite.

Final analysis

So, what are the key takeaways from Howard Boville’s analyst briefing? First, like the rest of its parent company, IBM Cloud is highly attuned to the needs of enterprise customers and to addressing their requirements with effective, robust solutions and services. Second, IBM continues to make substantial investments in areas, including security and Confidential Computing, that set the company and IBM Cloud well-apart from competitors, including the industry’s largest public cloud providers.

In addition, the company is applying its decades of work developing solutions and services for specific vertical industries to its cloud portfolio, including the IBM Cloud for Financial Services and a secured partner ecosystem with over 50 ISVs. Finally, IBM is continuing to make substantial investments on making the future of hybrid cloud real with Cloud Satellite.

That should be welcomed by the company’s large roster of enterprise customers and cloud-focused partners, but it also sets IBM well-apart from cloud companies that are intent on locking clients into proprietary platforms. In contrast, by working with IBM Cloud, businesses can enjoy the robust services, security, data privacy and lower risk they need on whatever cloud platforms they prefer, without having to wait for other vendors to catch up.

In essence, IBM Cloud understands that the first order of building valuable and effective partnerships is to be a valuable and effective partner. That is a vital point that myriad enterprises, public cloud players, ISVs and business partners will appreciate.

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