IBM’s cloud business is much more expansive than those of its competitors

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Updated: December 11, 2019 4:15:50 PM

IBM’s cloud business includes both – as a service (infrastructure, software, platform and process) – and hardware, software and services that enable enterprise clients to design, build, operate and integrate private, public and hybrid clouds.

IBM, IBM cloud business, global cloud revenue, hybrid cloud, IBM Cloud Paks, IaaS evolution, IBM R&D resourcesVikas Arora, Vice President, Cloud & Cognitive Software & Services, IBM India/South Asia

Over the last 12 months, IBM has witnessed global cloud revenue of $20.0 billion with an overall increase in revenue by 11% in Q3. “In India, we are growing at double digit with areas like data and security solutions being the key drivers,” says Vikas Arora, Vice President, Cloud & Cognitive Software & Services, IBM India/South Asia. “The acquisition of Red Hat accelerates our strategy, and positions IBM to be the leader in the emerging, $1.2 trillion hybrid cloud opportunity by 2020,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in an interview. Excerpts:

Why is IBM betting big on hybrid, multi-cloud? How will the Red Hat acquisition help IBM in this?

Companies today are around 10-20% into their cloud journey. Their initial forays have focused on renting compute power at scale, to drive cost and productivity efficiency and driving digital transformation. The next 80% of the cloud opportunity focuses on shifting business applications to the cloud and optimising everything from supply chains to sales. Further, the cloud market is redefining beyond public infrastructure-as-a-service market. Our clients view the cloud opportunity as incorporating their on-premises facilities, private clouds, and public clouds. There is growing recognition that clients are incorporating a hybrid strategy. Most analysts expect this hybrid approach strategy, leveraging multiple clouds, will accelerate within major companies over the next decade. Around 60% of the cloud workload will go to public clouds, 40% to private, perhaps the inverse will happen in more regulated industries.
IBM has been investing to address these issues, with IBM Cloud Paks focused on data, applications, integration, automation and multi-cloud management. It is these innovations that are driving IBM’s $20 billion hybrid cloud business. The acquisition of Red Hat accelerates our strategy, and positions IBM to be leader in the emerging, $1.2 trillion hybrid cloud opportunity by 2020.

How does IBM’s cloud offerings compare with that of other providers?

It’s not apples vs oranges, it’s apples and oranges, because enterprise clients buy apples and oranges when it comes to cloud. IBM’s cloud business is much more expansive than competitors, because it includes capabilities others don’t have and reflects the actual cloud buying patterns of enterprise clients.

IBM’s cloud business includes both – as a service (infrastructure, software, platform and process) – and hardware, software and services that enable enterprise clients to design, build, operate and integrate private, public and hybrid clouds. The point is that the overall enterprise cloud marketplace is not defined by what providers are trying to sell, but by what clients are buying.

What are the challenges with the hybrid, multi-cloud strategy with regards to security, interface standards, and portability?

With so many clusters across so many environments, many organisations need the required visibility into their containerised software. They have to see where services are running, how to monitor usage across multiple clouds or how to keep track of clusters as if they were on a single environment. A solution in the form of a unified dashboard, would help improve visibility across all Kubernetes environments.

Managing security and governance with Kubernetes clusters across multiple clouds can be a challenge. There is the additional challenge of managing configurations and placing workloads based on compliance or capability. A good management tool should have integrated functions, so that security teams can see who has access to which features using a single user interface.

While Kubernetes has automation capabilities of its own, some businesses still lack crucial capabilities such as the ability to back up applications, options for managing disaster recovery or the ability to easily move workloads across environments. This portion of functionality is somewhat mature, through the IaaS evolution: services to provision, configure and deliver individual Kubernetes clusters as a service has to be now extended to support multiple cloud environments.

What are the steps taken by IBM to integrate Red Hat technologies?

IBM recognised the value of containers early on, and invested two years of IBM R&D resources to transform its software portfolio to be cloud-native. We are now delivering our cloud-native capabilities as pre-integrated solutions called IBM Cloud Paks. The IBM-certified and containerised software will provide a common operating model and common set of services – including identity management, security, monitoring and logging – and are designed to improve visibility and control across clouds together with a unified and intuitive dashboard.

IBM has optimised more than 100 products to run on Red Hat OpenShift. With new Cloud Paks and IBM software optimised for Red Hat OpenShift, enterprises can now build mission-critical applications once and run them anywhere – on all private and public clouds, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Alibaba and IBM Cloud.

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