IBM hybrid cloud delivers value for reinvestment and manages compliances
Platform engineering on the CIO Hybrid Cloud enables growth, and disaster recovery, and delivered value driving reinvestment
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The IBM CIO Hybrid Cloud is the engine of digital transformation, bringing security-rich speed, scale, and simplicity to the IBM Chief Information Officer (CIO) Organization’s operation—features that are not available when using exclusively public cloud or exclusively private cloud. It provides the velocity for the company’s digital application teams to focus on what is most important: IBM’s digital business.

IBM is a company with more than 250,000 employees and annual revenues that exceed USD 50 billion. It takes thousands of internal applications to manage all aspects of the company’s diverse portfolio. IBM has applications for chip design, sales, marketing, management, accounting, customer support and many other functions. Some of these applications are as old as the computer industry. Others support quantum computing.

Application teams were facing difficult problems:

  • Hosting and operation environment and costs that were not controlled.
  • Keeping current with the latest security patches.
  • Meeting availability and disaster recover objectives.
  • Satisfying corporate security requirements.
  • Making minor changes was taking months.

Corporate compliance requirements for security, resiliency and business continuity were constantly evolving. The inefficiencies of dispersed, on-premises application hosting environments were becoming clear.

1,000s of applications 1,000,000s of users around the world
The choice was clear: We must leverage IBM’s products and technology at enterprise-scale. For us this meant using IBM’s hybrid cloud technology to build an intelligent application platform to run internal applications, integrations, digital workflows and data components. Matt Lyteson CIO, VP Technology Platforms Transformation IBM
Platform engineering for hybrid cloud at scale

The CIO Organization envisioned a hybrid cloud platform with the business rules built in—a single platform on which digital business application components would run, with full observability, transparency, and optimized cost for performance. “The choice was clear: We must leverage IBM’s products and technology at enterprise-scale. For us this meant using IBM’s hybrid cloud technology to build an intelligent application platform to run internal applications, integrations, digital workflows and data components,” says Matt Lyteson, CIO, VP Technology Platforms Transformation at IBM.

The engineering team created a single umbrella hybrid cloud platform, termed the CIO Hybrid Cloud. It would be a hosting environment for both containerized applications and VM-based applications for a heterogeneous set of architectures. Red Hat® OpenShift® on IBM Cloud® allowed the team to host identical environments on premises and in the cloud:

With ever increasing business requirements around security, resiliency and cost optimization, it was important to deliver a hybrid cloud platform that let IBM developers focus on creating enterprise applications for their stakeholders. The CIO Hybrid Cloud platform helps ensure that requirements are met by simply using the platform for hosting. The set of IBM Cloud services integrated to our hybrid cloud platform allows the right balance of application innovation with guardrails in areas such as databases, observability and storage. Ben Pritchett Platform Architect IBM

The results were stunning:

  • Over 2,000 application components onboarded to CIO Hybrid Cloud platform, mostly custom-built applications, application integrations and data components.
  • 55% fewer DevOps hours spent on operations, allowing applications teams to focus on business value.
  • 90% cost savings for CIO Hybrid Cloud platform hosting containerized workloads versus legacy hosting.

Application teams are meeting corporate objectives:

  • Application changes were taking months, but now changes can be delivered daily. Security patches are delivered rapidly.
  • Security and availability were application afterthoughts, but now highly available secure applications are the default.
  • Critical application teams struggled with disaster recovery implementation, testing and associated costs. Now disaster recovery support is built into the platform’s implementation patterns.

Increasing scale and capabilities of the previous private cloud solution required capital expenditures and operational overhead that were challenging to predict. The agility of the IBM hybrid cloud allowed the platform to scale elastically based on demand. The IBM Cloud Catalog of services are used by the platform and by the applications. The cloud provides security-rich resources with low operational overhead and consumption-based pricing. Data and applications are located on premises or in the cloud based on business requirements. Cloud data residency can be regional to meet regulatory requirements.

Continuous platform improvement is based on data-driven decisions with measurable results. Real-time data generated by the applications are stored in a data warehouse and are available for platform and application analysis. Over time some applications will require updates and platform metrics will inform the required changes. Other applications will reach end of life and the impact of retiring an application can be assessed. Application owners have visibility to metrics through a common interface to reason about performance and troubleshoot problems. The IBM Cloud Pak® for Data is a central component of the data warehouse.

The platform can also analyze underlying performance and measure the impact of changes. The data is also used to report derived information to the application teams, including compliance posture, criticality and software currency. The IBM Cloud® Security and Compliance Center, IBM Cloud® Log Analysis and IBM Cloud® Activity Tracker are used as part of the observability strategy along with IBM partners.

The platform can apply AI-based analysis on the data warehouse. Vertical scaling of application hosting resources using the IBM® Turbonomic® solution is available to the applications. Intelligent workload placement is also possible, allowing applications to migrate for optimal cost and performance.

90% cost savings—leveraging hybrid cloud containerized workloads 55% operations reduction—fewer platform operations resources
Application success by default

The CIO Hybrid Cloud hosts applications distributed over private and public cloud. The application environment starts with a “batteries included” template with the company business rules built in. A common application runtime environment is reproduced in all data centers that allows applications to run locally and handle regional disruptions. Applications are running on compute and storage that reflects requirements and consuming cloud catalog services with consumption-based pricing.

Moving to a hybrid cloud containerized environment has reduced the hosting expenses dramatically. Traditional virtual machines have been replaced with containerized workloads. Application-specific operational load has been invested in a common platform—allowing teams to focus on the business value while reducing operational expenses.

The platform is not done; it probably never will be. Compliance requirements will continue to evolve. Application performance demands have spiked with the adoption of AI. It is possible to further optimize the placement of applications in private or public by further analyzing real-time application and cost data.

If you have large-scale problems, IBM can provide large-scale solutions.

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About the IBM CIO organization

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) organization leads IBM’s internal IT strategy and is responsible for delivering, securing, modernizing and supporting the IT solutions that IBMers use to do their jobs every day.

The CIO strategy encompasses creating an AI-first, adaptive IT platform that makes IT easier to access across the enterprise, accelerates problem-solving and serves as an innovation engine for IBM, catalyzing business growth.

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Produced in the United States of America, October 2023.

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