Some edited excerpts:
- What is the 2022 Outlook for the Enterprise Server market in India?
With the Covid-19 impact, the demand for servers went up significantly as enterprises sought out technology to augment their infrastructure to ensure the least downtime for their critical workloads. Enterprises implemented new solutions to ensure remote working for their employees and zero touch interaction with their customers. All of this contributed to the increase in demand for high performing, robust infrastructure.
IBM has been the leader in the Unix server market for many years now, and we will continue to consolidate our position and gain market share throughout 2022 and beyond.
We see the Linux market growing significantly over the next few years with the increase in the adoption of cloud and open-source platforms. IBM will continue to be bullish in this space with our hybrid cloud offerings in partnership with RedHat. Container based solutions, microservices, CI/CD and automation will take the forefront in IT discussions, and we are well placed to partner with our customers on their digital transformation journey.
A significant portion of the growth in the server market will also be led by MSPs setting up new data centres in India and the partnership between an OEM and such service providers will be a key in the coming years. At IBM, we are continuously bolstering our ecosystems to ensure new consumption models for our customers while providing the best-in-class products/infrastructure.
- How are hybrid cloud and AI technologies changing the way enterprises operate?
Today, CIO’s are looking at making a strategic transformation from an inflexible and chaotic infrastructure to a hybrid computing approach. Infrastructure plays a very critical role in providing an innovative, flexible, scalable, manageable and safe IT environment. To drive cloud adoption, enterprises have begun to invest in scaling-up their infrastructure.
In an increasingly volatile, uncertain, and complex environment, businesses are looking to become more agile and fast-track innovation for their consumers by modernising their Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. The hybrid multi-cloud, comprising on-premises data centres and the public clouds, will emerge as the go-to model for businesses who want to balance both security and reliability for their mission-critical workloads with agility and scalability. Moreover, hybrid cloud is a combination with automation and AI which can deliver a range of important benefits, from increased flexibility, speed, agility and scalability to a shift in the cost model from capital expenditures to operating expenses.
The Global AI Adoption Index 2021, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of IBM, revealed that while AI adoption was nearly flat over the last year, the momentum is shifting as the need for AI has been accelerated by changing business needs due to the global pandemic. 53 per cent of IT professionals reported that their company has accelerated its rollout of AI due to the pandemic and 95 per cent of respondents shared that it is critical or very important to their business to trust that the output shared by AI is fair, safe and reliable.
Most new-generation workloads leverage AI, where the system is first trained and then it self-learns to become more efficient. Every AI application needs a clear infrastructure agenda and enterprises are rethinking their infrastructure for making business decisions. As AI moves beyond experimentation and towards adoption, it has begun to demand substantial computing resources and storage space. As businesses look at setting up AI applications, they require robust and scalable IT infrastructure to feed in the AI data for faster throughput and better accuracy. Companies are turning their attention to training their AI models to draw faster inferences with AI applications.
- What are some of the industries where infrastructure has played a critical role in adopting digitisation?
IBM has witnessed increased demand from sectors like BFSI and manufacturing and foresees opportunities with any company that is modernising its applications, dealing with a high volume of data and requires an infrastructure that is scalable, secure and built for the hybrid cloud and AI era. To truly optimise IT infrastructure today, servers are getting better with speed and agility to cope with new age technologies. It is essential that every layer of a company’s IT hardware and software stack remains secured end-to-end. Within memory encryption on the processor, the new generation of IBM processor greatly simplifies the encryption across the hybrid-cloud without impacting performance, enabling clients to protect data in transit and at rest and deliver a frictionless hybrid cloud experience across their entire IT infrastructure.
The BFSI sector has taken the lead in acknowledging the importance of infrastructure. In the era of platform economy, cloud-based infrastructure provides the agility and scalability that can empower banks to adjust and react to market changes quickly. Banks can now build many business platforms within and across ecosystems that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, they can form a technology platform that could provide resilient infrastructure in an “as-a-service” model for other banks and financial services companies. IT infrastructure will play a critical role in fostering the platform economy for banks and will determine their success in the post-pandemic world.
Even in the manufacturing sector, as the sector drives towards digital technologies and Industry 4.0, a good IT infrastructure is necessary to get up-to-date information on equipment status, improve performance and quality of production. Building a hybrid multi-cloud IT infrastructure is a key component in digital transformation for manufacturers seeking to take advantage of Industry 4.0. As successful manufacturers are on an on-going journey from a standard to automated factory set-up, with some organisations even ramping up to intelligent factories, RISC processor-based servers and storage continue to provide the building blocks of a next-generation IT architecture.
- Given the rising cyber threats in the last few years, what role has infrastructure played in the banking industry?
Having more digital users means that banks will also have more sensitive consumer data to protect. As per IBM Data Breach report, data breaches cost companies INR 165 million on average, banks have begun to ensure that strong data security controls are in place to prevent unauthorised access–from monitoring data to detect suspicious activity, to encrypting sensitive data wherever it travels. For companies that want to continue leveraging digital channels for consumer engagement, providing a seamless authentication process is key.
To achieve a more connected security ecosystem, the banking industry has begun to rally behind common, open-source tooling –and work together to create technologies that are more interoperable. Banks have also begun to introduce a new breed of unified security platforms that can connect disparate security tools as well as analyse data that resides across multiple, hybrid cloud environments. As the industry enters this new phase of cloud maturity, the security industry can capitalise on this shift and redesign security for a cloud-based world.
To deal with the huge volume of transactions and mission critical workloads happening in the financial services sector on a day-to-day basis, we launched Telum processor, designed to bring deep learning inference to enterprise workloads to help address fraud in real-time. The IBM Telum, Z Series chip is designed to cater to the volume, while enabling applications to run efficiently where their data resides. The chip will also allow businesses to capture insights and fight fraud in real-time.
IBM’s new Power E1080 server, was designed to form the backbone of a next generation hybrid cloud. With the ability to dynamically scale capacity as the need arises using IBM Power Private Cloud with Dynamic Capacity, the E1080 also gives 50 per cent more performance for containerised workloads as compared to the IBM E980 server. This means that cloud-native and containerised applications can be deployed into production faster while operating at a higher level. IBM Power E1080 is designed to help businesses get more out of their mission-critical workloads.
- How is IBM helping its clients in their infrastructure journey? Can you cite a few examples?
IBM has been engaging with larger enterprises and mid-size companies from the very early stages of their digital journey. We help our clients prioritise and evaluate the potential business impact of the digital transformation. We offer industry-specific offerings bundled cloud, AI, IoT solutions that address the specific needs of clients.
Shree Cement collaborated with IBM to run their database and core business applications using AIX and Red Hat on IBM POWER9-based IBM Power Systems. The implementation allows Shree Cement to seamlessly enhance its productivity and bring in supply chain efficiencies across its manufacturing plants. Similarly, with CK Birla Group’s National Engineering Industries (NEI), IBM undertook hardware upgrades to drive the company’s migration of ERP (enterprise resource planning) workloads to SAP HANA, which was critical to support the company’s digital initiatives. NBC’s digital-first projects approach and the company’s requirements for cybersecurity amid the pandemic led to NBC expanding its partnership with IBM to upgrade its IT infrastructure with the latest POWER9 servers, FlashSystem 5000 storage. IBM also worked with PN International. KARAM had collaborated with IBM to upgrade its IT Hardware for improved database management services, ERP and infrastructure management.
- Can you talk about the know-how/skills needed in the client organisations to empower their employees, addressing client security concerns and practical challenges involved in migrating on-premise systems to cloud? How can IBM ease that for organisations?
At IBM, we believe that companies today are accelerating the digital transformation and moving towards a hybrid cloud environment leveraging multiple clouds and an on premise environment that enables them to be agile and also provide the level of security, compliance required for today’s enterprise. The key for a successful transformation journey will heavily depend on the skills and expertise that the organisation already has and how they can acquire new skills as they go forward. IBM is investing heavily on several technologies to help customers adopt and acquire new skills with focus on solution patterns and industry verticals.
For example: Hyper-automation is the concept of automating everything in an organisation that can be automated. Organisations that adopt hyper-automation aim to streamline processes across their business using artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), and other technologies to run with minimal human intervention. AIOps uses artificial intelligence to simplify IT operations management and accelerate and automate problem resolution in complex modern IT environments. Organisations need to have skills in these domains to be able to address such requirements.
Similarly, Microservices architecture is an approach in which a single application is composed of many loosely coupled and independently deployable smaller services. OpenShift Container Platform is a great example.
Combined with industry experts from our consulting arm and a robust infrastructure like IBM Power, z Systems and Storage, IBM is well positioned to help our customers derive value by adopting and building skills in all these areas.