IBM stuffed a raft of announcements and updates into a press release, including updates to its public cloud and Watson AI portfolios.
While IBM competes with cloud industry heavyweights Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, it's leveraging technologies such as Watson AI and its recent acquisition of Red Hat to help customers manage services and applications across multiple clouds. During IBM's earnings call last week, the company said its cloud business generated more than $20 billion dollars in revenue over the last 12 months.
“Open architectures, based on Kubernetes and containers, are driving the next wave of cloud-based innovation. That’s why IBM has just completed a two-year journey to enhance its public cloud on a foundation of open source software,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president, cloud and cognitive software, in a statement. “Today, we are going a step further by unveiling new capabilities for the IBM public cloud, designed to provide clients with the highest available level of security, leading data protection and enterprise-grade infrastructure to run Red Hat OpenShift.”
On the IBM Cloud front, IBM announced what it claims is the industry's "only commercially available state-of-art cryptographic technology for the cloud," which is called “Keep your own key.” This feature gives enterprises the ability to retain control of their own encryption keys, along with the hardware security modules that protect them, so customers are the only ones who can control access to their data.
IBM also increased the bandwidth for its virtual cloud servers up to 80 Gbps, which it said makes IBM public cloud hyperscale-ready. It also announced the expansion of its cloud data center footprint with new multizone regions (MZR) planned for Toronto, Canada and Osaka, Japan by the end of 2020.
While expanding its data center footprint is a plus for IBM Cloud, the competition is doing the same. The total number of data centers increased by 55 over the last four quarters, which marked a bigger increase than was seen in the previous four quarters, according to Synergy Research Group (SRG).
In a recent report, SRG said Amazon and Microsoft had opened the most new data centers over the past 12 months. Those two companies accounted for more than half of the total, while Google and Alibaba were next most active companies.
Big Blue also announced that Aegean Airlines, BNP Paribas, Elaw Tecnologia SA and Home Trust, picked IBM Cloud as their preferred destination for mission-critical workloads.
IBM said its Power Systems server technology was slated to be available across select geographies on IBM Cloud by year's end, giving organizations a new option to begin developing and training their AI applications. IBM Power Systems is the technology behind the world’s smartest supercomputers, Summit and Sierra.
IBM previously announced it had transformed its software portfolio to be cloud-native and optimized to run on OpenShift. By going all in on cloud-native, enterprises can build their applications once and run them across all of the leading public clouds, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Alibaba Cloud and IBM, as well as on private clouds.
In artificial intelligence, IBM is advancing its "Watson Anywhere" approach to AI with updates to its core Watson technologies, including Watson OpenScale, Watson Assistant and Watson Discovery, as well what it said is the industry's first integrated analytics data platform, Cloud Pak for Data.
Watson OpenScale now includes "drift detection," which shows how far an AI model has "drifted" by comparing production and training data with the end result predictions. Drift detection includes alerts for when a user-defined threshold is exceeded.
IBM added "Content Miner" to iWatson Discovery to help users search large databases for specific content such as images and text. IBM said it also offers a simplified setup format helps non-technical users and a new "guided experience" that recommends the next steps in configuring projects.
IBM's new Watson Assistant for Voice Interaction was designed to help clients easily integrate an AI-powered assistant into their IVR systems, enabling customers to ask questions in natural language. Users can also blend texting and voice at the same time, allowing instantaneous information exchange, according to IBM.
Lastly, IBM announced that Cloud Pak for Data, which is an integrated data analytics platform, has been certified on Red Hat OpenShift, which IBM said ensures users that "all the components came from a supported source, container images contain no known vulnerabilities and most importantly that the containers running throughout are compatible across Red Hat Enterprise Linux environments, regardless of the cloud, and whether private, public or hybrid."
IBM said long-time customer KPMG and Air France-KLM are using the Watson apps, or building their own AI with the Watson tools.