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IBM's hybrid cloud flexes its capabilities

When McKinsey Global issued a report in 2015 that highlighted the potential of IoT, it noted two major challenges: interoperability and integration. Without the ability to interact with other devices and systems via standardization, the overwhelming potential of IoT will sit untapped.

At IBM InterConnect 2016, the company announced its hybrid cloud offering. IBM is now offering all of its rapid time-to-benefit solutions (i.e., WebSphere, API Connect, AppConnect, etc.) on its hybrid cloud platform. This is a seismic move in IoT, since it now means that there will be a major effort towards standardization through IBM’s services. IBM’s move creates a new dynamic in the industry; its partnerships with other companies and extensive customer base make it a natural center for IoT standardization.

Customer motivated

IBM took its cue from the market: according to Forrester, strengthening and expanding the customer base will involve a far greater reliance on technology than ever before. It predicts that 46% of consumers will have mobile devices and use them as a key interaction point with businesses. Customers will expect an easy-to-use app for your enterprise — and they will expect you to have in-depth knowledge of their personal preferences.

Driving innovation for every enterprise

IBM’s hybrid cloud creates a firm, consistent foundation for growth. For startups, IBM’s cloud is an unparalleled opportunity. A serious concern facing startups involves choosing (and speedily using) the correct technology — no simple decision considering how rapidly technology evolves. By choosing IBM’s cloud platform, startups have access to the same types of software and computing power as those available to much larger, more established companies. Alpha Modus CEO William Alessi was at InterConnect, and noted that by going with IBM’s platform, the company was able to develop its app in seven days. Compare that to Kinvey’s developer’s survey, showing that the average iOS/Android app dev time is about 18 weeks.

Larger or more established businesses can take advantage of IBM’s knowledge base to derive more value for their customers, become leaner and enhance profitability (or even create new streams of revenue). Accessing the newer technologies needed for IoT can be costly: whether it involves new hires or re­training employees, technology demands the constant investment of man-hours and resources. However, by allowing access to IBM’s platform of services, your development team will be able to access a suite of technologies already in use by thousands of clients (and millions of users). The extensive knowledge base alone can cut into development time, as programmers won’t need to hunt around for solutions.

Real power for IoT

IoT demands significant computing resources, far beyond those available to most enterprises. With millions (soon to be billions) of sensors sending  real-time data about products, customers and equipment, only the most advanced systems will be able to deliver the insights needed. Unless your company has a dedicated server farm, the ability to tap into the power of IoT data is beyond reach. Case in point: Google’s image recognition foray involved the use of about 16,000 microprocessors — and that processing power was used to identify a photo of a cat. IBM’s cloud services provide that type of large-scale computing power, and it eliminates the need for costly hardware upgrades and supports a range of app and analytics services.

Leaping forward

Managing data goes beyond collection: IBM’s analytics offer actionable enterprise insights that contribute directly to creating a leaner, faster, more profitable company. The InterConnect stage played host to Richard Holmes, General Manager, Infrastructure and Operations of Westpac Group Technology, one of Australia’s most respected businesses that has been in operation for almost two centuries. Holmes noted Westpac is expecting to move 70% of its operations to the hybrid cloud in the next three to five years. One reason may be the value it found by tapping into the power of analytics: the bank was able to cut down its provisioning time from 84 days to minutes.

Access to the cloud has significant advantages for development, as well. For example, developing prototypes and simulations significantly benefit from the implementation of real-time data. Siemens CEO Mattias Rebellius noted that because the company was able to identify heating/cooling equipment issues, it was able to address the problem quickly, and used that data to generate better, more realistic simulations. (On a side note, Siemens wants to change its buildings into value generators for its customers, and has leveraged its knowledge derived from analytics to generate fewer carbon emissions — about 10 million tons last year).

Pivot towards the future

IBM’s commitment to hybrid cloud is a fundamental shift in the IoT industry; it alters the conversation about IoT integration and levels the playing field for companies, regardless of private cloud and public cloud services with orchestration between the two platforms. By allowing access to unparalleled processing power, time to market will decrease, and innovation and access will increase. With billions of dollars in play, companies need to move quickly to implement IoT solutions.

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