Smarter Strategies

Insights and best practices for digital transformation

An IBM-AT&T Collaboration to Bring Hybrid Cloud to Enterprise 5G

October 29, 2020

By Howard Boville

These are challenging times. But they also present a big opportunity for technology and business.

As the global pandemic and its economic impact have forced an on-the-fly virtual reinvention of work, interpersonal relationships and commerce, enterprises have accelerated digital transformations to the point that what once took years is now being completed in a matter of weeks. Fortunately, this shift is occurring just as two key enabling technologies—edge computing and 5G high-bandwidth, low-latency wireless networks—are poised to make it possible for businesses of all sorts to speed their digital journeys.

Edge computing and 5G are poised to enable
enterprises of all sorts to speed their digital journeys.

Gartner predicts that by 2025, 75% of enterprise-grade data will be created and processed by devices at the edge, and every industry will be impacted by this shift. These devices and sensors are increasingly found throughout the business world and can boost customer experiences and open new revenue streams. Enterprises can capture the value of these technologies by bringing hybrid cloud computing to a low-latency edge environment, enabling them to more quickly and securely build new, innovative applications in an edge environment or on-premises.

That’s why two leaders in those technologies—IBM and AT&T—have announced a collaboration, backed by IBM’s secure and open hybrid cloud platform built on Red Hat OpenShift, to make it easier for enterprises to manage open hybrid cloud computing in a low-latency, private cellular network edge environment..

With new hybrid cloud services, enterprises can tap into the power of 5G for uses like factory safety and efficiency, real-time health monitoring or autonomous vehicle operation—processes that cannot risk being compromised by even the millisecond latency of sending workloads to a centralized cloud.

A Strategy Built on Security

At the same time, these companies need a secure environment in which to run and interconnect their critical workloads, from the tiniest wireless monitoring device on the network’s farthest edge to the central cloud—as well as all on- and off-premises points in between. An enterprise hybrid cloud strategy for the 5G era must put security at the forefront, so that even clients in the most highly regulated industries can build, deploy and run cloud services securely, anywhere.

Edge computing means the data can be efficiently processed closest to where the work is being done, while Red Hat OpenShift facilitates the consistency of running workloads across environments.

The solution with AT&T draws heavily on IBM’s 2019 commitment to retool its software platform around Red Hat OpenShift. For telcos, this open approach is critical. IBM has been working with companies in this industry all over the world to do just that. In fact, 83% of the world’s largest telcos are IBM clients—including Vodafone, Verizon, Bharti Airtel and others.

By making it easier for businesses to manage open hybrid cloud computing in a low-latency, private cellular network edge environment like AT&T Multi-access Edge Computing, IBM and AT&T are helping businesses across all industries—including manufacturing, healthcare, and retail—to quickly and securely build applications using regional or on-premises edge computing. Built on Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud Satellite gives clients the flexibility to bring their applications to any environment where their data resides,  while leveraging the security of IBM’s open hybrid cloud architecture.

IBM is collaborating with telcos around the world
to support the transition to 5G and edge computing.

And with this ability to capture and process data wherever it resides, technologies such as AI, machine learning, and automation can take that data and infuse the business with insights and intelligent workflows to help deliver a better customer experience. 

Client Cases and Ecosystem Partners

How might all this work in practice? Consider these examples:

  • The healthcare industry could more rapidly adopt tools to help fight pandemics, such as remote, real-time monitoring of patients via connected medical devices.
  • In manufacturing, 5G-connected automated operations can help reduce costs and control quality on production lines through robotics and near real-time visual analysis.
  • In retail, 5G and edge can help stores analyze supply chain data, detect spills or spoilage or monitor metrics like crowd density in ways that might overwhelm a network without edge computing.
  • In banking and finance, fraud and customer claims can be addressed in real-time, before losses are incurred. Edge-equipped ATMs can themselves serve as the point of fraud detection, preventing a bad actor from tampering with the system.

The business world is facing big challenges as we’ve been forced to re-invent—in real time—the way we work, conduct operations and serve our customers. The good news is that enterprises of all sorts have accelerated their digital journeys. And now, the convergence of 5G and edge computing, driven by this alliance of IBM and AT&T, can help ensure that businesses capture the opportunity to thrive in this new era.





Howard Boville is Senior Vice President of IBM Hybrid Cloud. Connect with Howard on Twitter and LinkedIn.