At its Think Digital conference, IBM and Red Hat announced a number of new services today that are all about 5G Edge and AI. The fact that the company focuses on these two areas comes as no surprise as both Edge and AI are two of the fastest growing companies in enterprise computing. Almost every telecommunications company is currently considering how best to use the upcoming 5G rollouts, and most forward-looking companies are trying to figure out how best to plan this for their own needs.
As the recently-minted President of IBM, Jim Whitehurst, told me before today's announcement, he believes that IBM (in combination with Red Hat) is able to offer companies a very differentiated service since, unlike the large hyper clouds, IBM is not interested in including these companies in a homogeneous cloud.
"When IBM is differentiated competitively, it's about how we can help customers move towards a hybrid cloud," said Whitehurst, who hasn't had many media interviews since taking office, including Red Hat administration. “To be honest, everyone has hybrid clouds. I wish we had a more differentiated term. One of the things that is different is how we talk about how you think about an application portfolio that you will necessarily have in different ways. If you are a large company, you are likely to have a mainframe that runs a number of transaction workloads that are likely to stay there for a long time, as there is no good alternative. And there will be a number of applications that you want to run in a distributed environment that need to access this data – right down to a factory floor – and you want to make sure the paint sprayer doesn't. I have no flaws while painting a door. "
He argues that what IBM is all about is helping companies think about how best to run their workload software, hardware, and service perspective. "Public clouds are phenomenal, but they provide a set of services to companies in a homogeneous way," he said, arguing that IBM is trying to interweave all of these different parts.
Later in our discussion, he argued that the major public clouds are essentially forcing companies to adapt their workloads to the service of these clouds. “The public clouds do extraordinary things and are great partners for us. However, their main business is building these homogeneous services in bulk and saying, 'If your workloads match, we can do them better, faster, cheaper, etc. And they have obviously expanded. You have added services. They don't say we can set up a box on site, but they still fit your model. "
On the news side, IBM introduces new services to automate business planning, budgeting and forecasting, for example, as well as new AI-driven tools for creating and running automation apps that can perform routine tasks either autonomously or with the help of a human counterpart. The company is also launching new tools for call center automation.
The main AI announcement is surely Watson However, AIOps is designed to help companies identify, diagnose, and respond to IT anomalies to reduce the impact of incidents and outages on an organization.
On the telecommunications side, IBM is launching new tools such as the Edge Application Manager to simplify marginally the activation of AI, analytics and IoT workloads on IBM's open source edge computing project Open Horizon based. The company is also introducing a new Telco Network Cloud Manager, which builds on Red Hat OpenShift and offers the opportunity to also use the Red Hat OpenStack platform (which remains an important platform for telecommunications companies and a growing business for IBM / Red Hat represents). . In addition, IBM is launching a new dedicated IBM services team for edge computing and telecommunications cloud to help these customers build their 5G and edge-enabled solutions.
Telecommunications companies also rely heavily on many different open source technologies, which are often the core of their 5G and edge deployments. Red Hat has been a major player in this area, but the acquisition only accelerated it, Whitehurst argued. “Since the acquisition (…), telecommunications companies have had a lot more confidence in IBM's capabilities to serve them long term and to serve them in a business critical context. Above all, however, IBM also has the opportunity to actually achieve this now. "
He also noted that many of the new Telco Edge and Hybrid Cloud deployments are based on Red Hat technologies, but were developed by IBM, and neither IBM nor Red Hat could have really achieved them in the same way. Red Hat never had the size, breadth and capabilities to carry out some of these projects, Whitehurst argued.
Whitehurst also argued that part of the Red Hat DNA he is now bringing to the table is helping IBM think more about ecosystems. "The DNA that I think is very important that Red Hat brings to the table with IBM – and I think IBM is taking over and we are working with it – is the importance of ecosystems," he said. “All of Red Hat's software is open source. So what you really bring to the table are ecosystems. "
No wonder that the telecommunications initiatives are supported by partners such as Cisco, Dell Technologies, Juniper, Intel, Nvidia, Samsung, Packet, Equinix, Hazelcast, Sysdig, Turbonomics, Portworx, Humio, Indra Minsait, EuroTech, Arrow, ADLINK. Acromove, Geniatech, SmartCone, CloudHedge, Altiostar, Metaswitch, F5 Networks and ADVA.
In many ways, Red Hat pioneered the open source business model, and Whitehurst argued that as part of the IBM family, Red Hat is now making it easier for the company to make the decision to invest even more in open source. "As we move into this hybrid cloud world, we will do our best to use open source technologies to make them real," he added.