IBM Cloud Accelerates Digital Transformation

A Q&A with IBM Cloud CTO Hillery Hunter

IBM Cloud’s Chief Technology Officer & IBM Fellow Hillery Hunter sat down with InterGlobix Magazine Founder and Editor-in-Chief Jasmine Bedi to discuss IBM Cloud’s key growth opportunities and the importance of the Hybrid Cloud approach, especially for Enterprise IT compute architecture. Prior to this role, Hunter served as Director of Accelerated Cognitive Infrastructure in IBM Research. Hunter is a member of the IBM Academy of Technology, in addition to her role with IBM Cloud.

Cloud Computing is integral to any organization’s Digital Transformation journey. IBM is leading the way with their Hybrid Cloud approach to Enterprise IT compute architecture. IBM Cloud includes infrastructure as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), offered through public, private and hybrid cloud delivery models. IBM calls their hybrid cloud platform offerings “a guiding star to enterprise transformations.” It’s the reason why many major companies across a variety of industries have migrated to IBM for their cloud computing operations, like BNP Paribas, Daimler and AT&T, just to name a few.

What do you think are the major Digital Transformation trends and how are they accelerating enterprises’ adoption to the Cloud?

The pace of business transformation picked up notably during the pandemic. Savvy business leaders embraced how technology and innovation can help solve some of the most pressing problems of our times. In fact, a recent study found that, of the surveyed organizations, the pandemic accelerated digital transformation at a rate of 59 percent.

Businesses are pushing ahead with digital transformation, deploying existing tools to fuller potential and leveraging new ones for further advancements. Cloud is leading this shift, with 64 percent of companies surveyed in an IBM Institute for Business Value report stating a shift to more cloud-based business activities during the pandemic.

We see this digital transformation happening across all industries. Some are looking to interface with customers more dynamically such as healthcare and retail, though others are looking to transform their core operations to have greater elasticity and capacity such as e-commerce and banking.

Looking at the needs of target customers, what are the key verticals to focus on for IBM Cloud?

IBM is working with clients across industries to help them embrace hybrid cloud. At the same time, we’re especially seeing promise for hybrid cloud in highly regulated industries like financial services, government, telecommunications and healthcare. For these types of organizations, in particular security and data protection will be even more of a key focus area moving forward and are at the forefront of their digital transformation.

To help organizations successfully and safely embrace cloud, we have built industry-specific offerings for the financial services and telecommunications sectors. With these solutions, we are able to help organizations think how they’ve created digital platforms from the outset. A key piece of this is ensuring they have the right controls in place to maintain security and compliance. We’ve found that unless you build in these controls as a baseline, then it risks stifling innovation. We’ve also built robust partner ecosystems for each of these solutions, through these partners can onboard their solutions in a way that addresses each industry’s stringent compliance, security and resiliency requirements, while also supporting business transformation and innovation.

What percentage of workloads do you see enterprises moving to the Cloud? How does IBM approach the hybrid cloud paradigm?

Although digital transformation is accelerating rapidly, still only 25 percent of mission critical workloads have moved to the cloud. Organizations often cite concerns about security and privacy of sensitive data, such as constituent data, medical records or financial information for this hesitation. These organizations often lack a key ingredient–trust in their cloud provider–that can help them more fully embrace their digital transformation efforts.

What businesses need to establish this trust is a sound technical architecture that aligns all critical business processes, including availability, performance, capacity and most importantly cybersecurity controls. An open, hybrid cloud architecture can connect and standardize development, operations and security across any infrastructure, covering private data centers to public clouds and all the way to the edges of the network. This unifies workflow and increases the visibility of threats across the entire network. It essentially helps eliminate weak links and complexities of overall IT management.

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