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Why I’m building IBM’s internal data platform on the Hybrid Multicloud

November 19, 2020

A recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value found that while 90% of companies were “on the cloud” by 2019, only...

November 19, 2020

By Inderpal Bhandari, IBM Global Chief Data Officer

recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value found that while 90% of companies were “on the cloud” by 2019, only about 20% of their business workloads were cloud-based. Why the gap? Why aren’t more moving? The reason is as straight forward as the solution.

The reason workloads are not moving is because they are where they are for a reason. The solution is hybrid multicloud because it lets companies meet workloads where they are.

Instead of moving the workload, meet it where it is.

By and large, there’s a very good business reason why a critical workload is performed in a given fashion or from a given place. More and more, this simple fact is guiding companies toward an overall transformation strategy that features the hybrid cloud, leveraging whatever combination of public cloud, private cloud and on prem makes sense for them to optimize value. Businesses are seeing the benefit of a holistic approach as opposed to “let's focus on this one workload and try to move it.” We saw this trend come to life at our recent CDO Summit, where two-thirds of attendees reported that their companies had at least started their journey to hybrid cloud.

“Meeting it where it is” requires a hybrid multicloud approach

Hybrid cloud is not only IBM’s go-forward focus for our clients, it is also our strategy internally. 

As a global company with a very large number of clients across a multitude of industries, our goal is to get workloads in an optimal configuration that is efficient, flexible, and infused with AI. We realized that “meeting the workload where it is” is critical for end-to-end transformation of the enterprise – and that required a hybrid multicloud environment.

I also recognized, as a chief data officer, that we need to meet the data where it is in order to truly scale. Data has to be trusted, secure, and seamlessly available all at the same time. For example, different geographies have different regulations – from the California Consumer Privacy Act to the new Personal Data Protection Bill in India, and we need to respect these and a vast array of complex regulations in real time. Simultaneously, we must protect the security of all data at all times, and the privacy of personal data in particular. These are complexities that go beyond the simple, functional requirements of putting together, for example, a 360-degree view of a client. 

Building on hybrid multicloud, our data platform can be anywhere and everywhere

The backbone of our internal strategy is the Cognitive Enterprise Data Platform (CEDP). With hybrid multicloud running on Red Hat OpenShift, this central data and AI enablement platform allows 1) workloads to run anywhere with the appropriate privacy and security safeguards built in, and 2) data to be ingested once and accessed anywhere, again appropriately. While logically it's central, physically it is completely distributed.

Since its launch in 2017, CEDP has delivered 71% improvement in cycle time of key business processes and 10X return on investment from data and AI-based transformation initiatives.  Plus, on top of CEDP we are able to create AI-infused solutions such as:

  • Client 360 – providing a holistic view of our client records, bridging legacy systems and making 4 billion client data records instantly available for nearly 30,000 IBM sellers in 60 countries, and 
  • Operations Risk Insights (ORI) with Watson – delivering an early warning system across our supply chain by synthesizing millions of records across 1,000+ data sources in real-time to assess risk event impact across more than 25,000 sites worldwide.

With COVID-19 accelerating digital transformation, the pace of hybrid cloud deployments is increasing as well. Why? Again, the reason is straight forward. A hybrid multi-cloud approach offers unparalleled versatility, resulting in speed to implementation and therefore speed to value. By meeting workloads where they are, companies can more easily optimize appropriately across different environments. As such, an end-to-end transformation built on the hybrid multicloud also drives more value – 2.5 times more value, to be exact. 

To close with a simple turn of phrase: with hybrid multicloud, “where it is” is “where it’s at.”

Inderpal Bhandari
IBM Global Chief Data Officer

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