This is the first post in the three-part "Control to Customise" blog series.
The last year has brought about unexpected changes for all kinds of organisations, and organisational plans around digital transformations are no exception. However, instead of slowing down or pausing those transformations during a financially tough year, many organisations have sped them up. Amid the pandemic, in a July 2020 IDG survey, 41% of IT decision-makers said their technology budgets would increase in the next 12 months; another 35% said they would hold steady.
If your business is undergoing or planning to undergo digital transformation, you may need to take a deeper look at which of the many solutions meet your needs. However, the myriad options and progressive evolutions can overwhelm even the most experienced C-suite leaders, especially in this ever-evolving space.
But the benefits of well-planned digital transformation go beyond the bottom line. With modern solutions like flexible data access and multiple cloud environments, businesses can provide their clients with engaging and responsive experiences at all points of access. These businesses can augment their innovation agenda by leveraging an open and secure containerised platform to move core applications to the cloud. Such a platform provides the flexibility and speed of the cloud with a customisable ecosystem of applications that fits every organisation’s unique needs.
Digital transformation remains a priority
At even the highest levels of the C-suite, the advantages of modernisation through digital transformation are clear. CEOs told IDG in the July survey that digital transformation initiatives were still their top priority for IT.
Modern digital solutions allow businesses to be agile and flexible. These solutions scale to fit each enterprise and its needs. Adopting the IBM hybrid cloud platform means organisations get access to top-tier digital offerings with established practices and expertise, while reducing the risk and cost involved in putting together internal solutions and infrastructure components from scratch.
Digital transformation will look different from business to business (and even within a single organisation’s operation). It will connect and impact different sectors of a business and often require a radical shift in not just the technology itself, but how employees view that technology. What will remain consistent, however, is the necessity plan to upgrade technologies to ensure your essential business systems remain current — and your company remains competitive.
"Digital transformation with a hybrid cloud approach elevates a company’s operations on multiple levels, including the ability to innovate faster, foster ecosystems, fortify security, drive business agility and advance flexibility," says Chetan Krishnamurthy, IBM’s Asia Pacific CMO for Cloud and Cognitive Software and Security.
A hybrid cloud solution is what your company may need to stay steady on its path to digital transformation. Hybrid cloud is when IT infrastructure connects at least one public cloud and at least one private cloud, thus providing management and operational portability between the two. This gives a company a unified cloud infrastructure that can be accessed and managed from anywhere, securely.
“You get that innovation component going because you have the best of technologies to access in one platform,” Krishnamurthy says. “You bring the power of the ecosystem to you through skills, a variety of open technologies, workloads, industry expertise and so on. You have innovations and accelerations in terms of rapid application development, you get a strong layer of security and you determine what you want to do and where you want to do it.”
By bringing that all together under a hybrid cloud platform, companies can get to market faster, talk to their clients more effectively and create differentiated client experiences — all of which should translate to accelerated revenue and growth.
The IDG survey found IT decision-makers expect to invest more in big data and analytics, business process management and mobile devices over the next year. A recent study from the IBM Institute of Business Value found companies get two-and-a-half times the value from hybrid cloud compared to a single-cloud, single-vendor approach — with the hybrid option providing both flexibility and cost effectiveness.
IBM’s hybrid cloud solutions, including IBM Cloud Pak® offerings, run wherever Red Hat® OpenShift® runs and are optimised for productivity. This allows businesses to leverage the latest technologies on any cloud environment from anywhere in the world via a single control point.
Flexibility and access
“A number of legacy systems that some organisations still use are monolithic applications designed to hold a lot of functionality in a single system,” says Gajun Ganendran, CTO of IBM Public Cloud, Asia Pacific. “The result was relatively fast systems because of tight integration, but the trade-off is a lack of the resilience, updatability or scalability seen in modern systems.”
With IBM’s modern hybrid cloud solutions, one platform can build and manage your solutions — including legacy programs or custom-built applications — across any cloud. “Having a legacy system, in its own right, may not necessarily be a bad thing,” Ganendran says. “But moving to a modern architecture and a modern system obviously has a lot of benefits for our customers now.”
Red Hat OpenShift is an enterprise-ready Kubernetes container platform with full-stack automated operations to manage hybrid cloud, multicloud and edge deployments. On Red Hat OpenShift, enterprises can run IBM Cloud Pak solutions and take advantage of the analytical and predictive powers of artificial intelligence (AI). This AI-infused software suite brings capabilities in data insights, prediction, security and automation to a company’s digital transformation journey.
“With IBM Cloud Pak solutions and an open ecosystem, we give you the innovation edge,” Krishnamurthy says. “And, on the same platform, we help modernise, automate, predict and secure your workflows and applications.”
IBM hybrid cloud allows for consistent building and running in cloud, on-site and edge environments. A hybrid solution means deploying securely where needed while taking advantage of industry-specific solutions you won’t find with public cloud offerings — and this means you can build and run anywhere with consistency.
IBM Cloud Pak® for Data is a comprehensive cloud native data and AI platform under IBM's hybrid cloud portfolio. The platform helps modernise data management, DataOps, governance, analytics and AI so you can drive outcomes for your business faster. Built on Red Hat OpenShift, the IBM Cloud Pak for Data platform delivers an open information architecture with integrated capabilities from IBM and IBM partners, including open source, to help you achieve your AI aspirations while enabling governance and data protection.
"We are seeing numerous use cases emerging,” Krishnamurthy says. “For example, a bank in China that was looking to implement AI-powered solutions first created the data foundation by transforming its disparate database infrastructure into a unified and interconnected private cloud by leveraging IBM Cloud Pak for Data."
With cloud solutions, security and compliance are key priorities; data and systems have to be secure, especially when they are being accessed and managed in multiple ways. With hybrid cloud solutions, companies also have access to IBM’s portfolio of security solutions and services, ensuring seamless and secure operations.
Fortunately, hybrid cloud also provides a way to address the problem of integrating — or moving away from — legacy systems for organisations. Many legacy solutions lack support for upgrades and security patches or do not work with modern business technologies, such as advanced data analytics or cloud computing. Digital modernisation via a planned, step-by-step solution — designed for existing and future business needs — brings required systems into IBM’s hybrid cloud solutions and ensures future scalability and upgradability.
Every digital transformation has its pain points — integrating legacy systems, complying with local privacy regulations, training staff on new systems, etc. “When an organisation has a lot of incumbent legacy systems, one of the biggest challenges that a lot of these organisations face is the inability for them to really take advantage and be competitive in the market,” Ganendran says.
But hybrid cloud with IBM provides a solution for addressing them. "Complexity and expense are significant barriers to digital modernisation for some organisations", Ganendran says, "but hybrid cloud has changed the risk equation of undertaking this transformation."
“The risk profile is greatly reduced because they're not having to outlay a lot of capital expenses out front to buy infrastructure,” he said. “They can divest that risk over a longer period of time – start small, scale big.”
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Check out the other blog posts in the "Control to Customise" series:
This article was produced for IBM by BBC Storyworks Commercial Productions.