IBM: Simplifying the Journey to Hybrid Cloud

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  February 10, 2016

A metaphorical journey can be a powerful image when it comes to technology, both in terms of the larger industry and specific IT solutions. Why so? Because of the evolutionary nature of technological products and processes, and the ways in which IT solutions and the organizations that use them advance.

However, with very few exceptions, technology customers move in anything but straight lines. Instead, while businesses may have a specific IT goal in mind, they often meander, become enchanted with the view, get boxed into blind cul de sacs, reverse course and resume their forward motion. More than occasionally, when they arrive at their final destination, customers realize that they or the goal itself have changed in the interim. So they begin again, often with an entirely new plan and mode of transport.

Why does any of this matter? Because it necessarily involves complex processes and what can become sizable investments. Consider hybrid cloud as an example, where businesses may be entranced by the opportunity to lower IT expenses and increase efficiencies by engaging public cloud services. They may also be intrigued by promises of speeding innovation or getting more out of their data investments.

But such journeys can vary widely in comfort depending on whom you travel with or hire as a trusted guide. That’s why I consider IBM’s new Cloud Data Services offerings an important step in lowering the cost and complexity related to hybrid cloud journeys.

“Open for Data”

What is IBM delivering with its Cloud Data Services? Broadly speaking, the company says that the new services are “open for all data types,” can be leveraged across numerous business and technology tasks and will support a wide range of advanced data analytics, exploration and modeling processes.

They can also be used with data and applications on premises, in public clouds and in hybrid cloud environments. IBM promises that the services will enhance roles across customers’ organizations, including business analysts, data engineers and developers.

What are the company’s four new services?

  1. IBM Analytics Exchange: This is a publicly accessible exchange that provides a catalog of over 150 datasets that customers can integrate into applications or use to enhance analysis. Datasets are available either via the API level or integrated with IBM’s Watson Analytics. The company also plans to enable customers to leverage analytics tools like DataWorks and dashDB with content from the Exchange.
  2. IBM Compose Enterprise: Leveraging assets IBM acquired in last year’s purchase of Compose, this service offers customers a starting point for working with lightweight database services based on Elasticsearch, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Redis and other open source technologies. The result will simplify how developers build web-scale apps and how IT deploys them.
  3. IBM Graph: The company calls this “the first fully managed graph database service built on Apache TinkerPop, the leading open source graph technology stack.” The aim is to provide application developers, including those with no prior experiences with graph databases, a simple means for moving data from existing databases into graph architectures and building engagement applications.
  4. IBM Predictive Analytics: Built on core technologies from IBM’s SPSS, this cloud service enables developers to easily leverage predictive scoring services in their applications. According to the company, its service differs from competing offerings, like AWS Machine Learning, both in terms of its simplicity and minimal limitations.

IBM also highlighted its continuing investments in Apache Spark and enterprise class support for open source developers. The company cited its DataWorks Forge data movement solution as one that has been completely rebuilt to take full advantage of Spark, reducing its original 45 million lines of code to just 5 million lines.

Final analysis

Given the depth of its experience in enterprise-class computing, IBM well understands its customers’ current and prospective business and IT requirements. During the past 24 months, those organizations have made a profound shift toward hybrid cloud computing and services. IBM is ideally positioned to help them understand the likely benefits and struggles that await them on the journey to hybrid cloud.

Along with sharing its hybrid cloud experience and expertise, IBM is also actively developing solutions to make that journey simpler, safer and successful. The company’s four new Cloud Data Service offerings are all practical examples of what it aims to deliver. Leveraging both deeply evolved and recently acquired technologies, the new services stand out individually but also deepen IBM’s portfolio of hybrid cloud services and solutions.

Before any journey, it is wise to consider and prepare for both the strengths and weaknesses of one’s companions. These new Cloud Data Service offerings suggest that in the journey to hybrid cloud computing, there are few, if any, better potential companions or guides than IBM.

© 2016 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.