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Summary

At its 2015 InterConnect conference, held in Las Vegas at the end of February, IBM demonstrated how it aims to bring together all the pillars that are shaping the ICT landscape and provide holistic solutions for its customers. These pillars include cloud, mobility, social, and analytics. Ovum believes that IBM’s hybrid cloud capabilities and analytics, especially Watson, are its biggest assets and will be key to its future success in the ICT industry.

Hybrid cloud is IBM’s best bet for the future

SoftLayer was probably one of IBM’s best acquisitions of the last few years because it firmly (and immediately) established the company as a leading global public cloud service provider. The majority of enterprises will adopt hybrid models, which will highlight IBM’s strength in professional services and integration and its extensive developer relations. None of the other leading cloud service providers – AWS, Azure, and Google – can match the breadth of its capabilities in these areas. IBM expects IT to be “all hybrid” in the future and believes it is well placed to help enterprises shift workloads to the public cloud, which remains one of the biggest IT challenges.

At InterConnect 2015 IBM made a series of announcements on hybrid cloud, including the launch of Enterprise Containers. These are designed to allow enterprises to develop a new application in a public cloud datacenter and later bring it into an on-premise datacenter. Application portability is a major issue in any hybrid cloud environment and enterprises, especially those in regulated industries, can now choose to develop applications in the public cloud environment. They will be highly receptive to this, particularly for sensitive applications.

IBM plans to extend its highly regarded platform-as-a-service offering, Bluemix, into its customers’ datacenters. It also intends to open five additional SoftLayer datacenters globally, including at sites in Montreal, Sydney, and Milan and is seeking to become the hybrid cloud service provider of choice.

Analytics is becoming core to many enterprise IT investments and Watson is the cornerstone of IBM’s strategy in this area. In the Asia-Pacific region (and even globally) Watson has achieved good traction in healthcare (especially in genome research and oncology), government agencies (particularly tax offices), and wealth management teams within investment banks. Approximately 5,000 developers are working on more than 6,000 Watson applications, and Bluemix will have Watson and analytics included in almost everything built on it. In addition, several services that are in beta are based on Watson, including Watson Personality Insight service; this is integrated with Bluemix and allows developers to integrate new cognitive capabilities that can analyze trends and patterns in social media. IBM’s ability to integrate Watson with solutions in other pillars will help it to lengthen its lead in the market, set the pace, and achieve competitive differentiation.

Appendix

Further reading

“IBM SoftLayer will shake up the Australian Cloud Market,” TE0005-000644 (August 2014)

Author

Adrian Ho, Principal Analyst, Enterprise

adrian.ho@ovum.com

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