Cloud migration has moved into a new phase, with many enterprises, including those in regulated industries, moving or contemplating migrating core workloads to various cloud environments. The resulting multicloud environment will mean an additional layer of management complexity for many enterprises. Ovum believes that managing a multicloud environment is the next frontier of strategic outsourcing and for many system integrators it will be the next big opportunity. Enterprises are also increasingly scouting for intelligent clouds or cloud platforms that offer artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities that will deliver deeper insights into the data and workloads stored in the cloud. Service providers and system integrators that can meet both requirements and provide a highly secure infrastructure will be well positioned to benefit from this new frontier. During the recent IBM Think conference in San Francisco, the company outlined its hybrid cloud and ML/AI strategy to customers and analysts.
IBM has much to prove as the industry waits to see a significant improvement in topline revenue growth from its multiyear turnaround strategy, which is heavily focused on strategic imperatives. Ovum believes these strategic imperatives have been narrowed down to two.
The first is what IBM describes as “chapter 2 in cloud”, which is scaling a cloud model and bringing it to mission-critical workloads. The opportunity for IBM is transforming the ICT infrastructure for its customers and managing the hybrid cloud environment for them, essentially the next frontier of outsourcing, which IBM once led globally but one that has evolved at a pace that IBM could not keep up with. IBM believes the hybrid cloud is the “next trillion-dollar opportunity” and it intends to be number one. To claim leadership, IBM acquired RedHat in late 2018 and the deal is expected to close soon. RedHat’s open source solution coupled with Kubernetes will be a lynchpin in any multicloud environment.
The second will be the scaling of AI/ML (Watson), an area where IBM had an early-mover advantage but where competitors are catching up or have already caught up. IBM made an announcement that Watson will now be available on competing cloud platforms (Azure, Google), allowing enterprises to use Watson “anywhere” if they have data sitting in competing cloud platforms. Ovum believes this is a differentiating story for IBM and in some ways will return IBM to what it does best, which is managing complexity for its customers and ICT transformation.
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