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Three Paths to
IT Modernization

Companies are deploying a variety of strategies and new technologies to meet the ever-changing needs of business.
What's your IT infrastructure journey?

THE JOURNEY TO AI

Every day, companies see their data pool expand and the range of data sources grow more diverse. IT leaders are striving to leverage the power of that data to tackle ambitious projects and solve complex new business challenges.

For example, self-described "AI evangelist" Marcelo Labre embraced artificial intelligence as a way to address the ever-increasing security risks a financial institution faces every day.

The problem: the financial company’s IT security team needed to find a better way to track suspicious signals in a daily sea of noise. The answer: build, train and deploy an AI solution to recognize suspicious money-transfer patterns that not even the most adept data scientists could spot using traditional statistical tools.

AI has great potential in many areas, but many organizations don’t know where to start. Business leaders can start their journey to AI incrementally.

Prove It or Lose It

There’s no better way to enter the AI fray than proving the investment will be worth it. So, start small by coming up with a single, tightly defined AI business use case to build a model and test feasibility before trying to scale it throughout the organization.

At this point in the journey, it’s important to connect key stakeholders—the C-suite, line-of-business leaders, senior developers and other IT representatives—and together discuss how AI can be used to solve pressing business challenges.

Next, identify a line of business where building and using AI applications could make a significant impact, and start creating a model based around that transformation. You might consider building a minimum viable product in the cloud as a way to move fast and test models.

Think big picture, but go after the big picture in small bites. When crafting a plan, make sure to highlight a distinct accomplishment, like return on investment, to show the value AI is bringing. That helps you get the continued funding to integrate AI across the organization.

Charlie Goodman

Systems Program Executive of Big Data and AI Solutions at IBM

Adopt a Hybrid Multicloud Infrastructure

Now it’s time to review your IT infrastructure strategy to ensure that it will be up to the challenges of AI.

A major challenge is ensuring you carefully craft the foundation to handle increasing amounts of data from different sources and housed in different places for your hybrid cloud infrastructure strategy.

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of all organizations that fully implement AI end up bringing their data back on-premises when they begin expanding and scaling their AI deployments.

Source: “Cloud and Al Adoption Survey,” IDC, January 2018

Done correctly, a flexible, scalable hybrid multicloud solution can maximize your cost savings, data security and AI-training efficiency. Having standardized tools both on-premises and in the cloud is a key element in making this process work.

As you start buying tech to support AI across the enterprise, you might have tools on-premises and in the cloud. Being able to maintain standards across this hybrid infrastructure, as well as optimizing your expenses, is important.

Charlie Goodman

Systems Program Executive of Big Data and AI Solutions at IBM

Leave Competitors
in the Dust

Your company’s AI solutions and strategic approaches to using them can enable you to improve customer experience, improve efficiency and harness the powerful insights within your data.

CEOs report that the top-line value drivers for AI investment tend to be customer-related:

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Customer Satisfaction

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Customer Retention Improvement

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Customer Acquisition Cost Reduction

Source: “Shifting toward Enterprise-grade AI,” IBM Institute for Business Value, 2018

Developing a better AI model often depends on both the location and the nature of the computing power. AI relies on the computer accessing large amounts of data to train the model, and accelerated systems, such as those with GPUs for co-processing and massively parallel compute capabilities, providing the speed and scalability AI requires.

AI models also help ensure employees can work more efficiently and at optimal performance. Businesses must strategize now to adopt AI capabilities that are crucial to competing and innovating in the future.

In 10 years, there’ll be two types of companies: those that employed and used AI, and those that are out of business. But it doesn’t have to be scary. Pick a partner that can help you. And remember: Think longer term even if you’re being tactical now.

Charlie Goodman

Systems Program Executive of Big Data and AI Solutions at IBM

The Journey to Hybrid Multicloud

No matter what a given enterprise’s specific technology requirements might be, achieving cost-effective performance, security, flexibility and scalability are likely on every IT leader’s priority list.

Consider the case of Cognition Foundry, a company dedicated to providing technology startups with the IT expertise and computing functionality they need to succeed. The problem: Cognition Foundry needed a way to serve a wide variety of clients with vastly differing IT environments and continually evolving compute, storage, security and growth needs. The solution: embracing the robust versatility of hybrid multicloud infrastructure strategies.

But Cognition Foundry didn’t simply adopt this solution overnight. Like most businesses, it went through several stages of strategic planning to successfully implement and optimize custom hybrid multicloud solutions for its clients.

The reality is that most organizations are in some stage of adopting or improving a hybrid multicloud infrastructure, and should consider these three ideas.

Evaluate Your IT Infrastructure “Footprint”

Large organizations typically struggle with IT infrastructure sprawl. Most have a mix of poorly integrated public and private clouds, traditional on-premises data centers, and rented or acquired hardware solutions–and the complexity is only increasing and getting more difficult to manage.

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of enterprises operate in a multicloud environment

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of enterprises will operate in multicloud by 2021

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of enterprises have a multicloud management strategy

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of enterprises have tools to operate a hybrid multicloud environment well

Source: “Assembling Your Cloud Orchestra,” IBM Institute for Business Value, 2018

Few businesses have the luxury of “ripping and replacing” their IT infrastructure, and that may not make the most sense. Most companies have a significant investment in hardware and software, running a long list of mission-critical applications. But they also need to find ways to adapt and scale quickly to keep up with competitors while maintaining data security. An open hybrid multicloud strategy, integrating traditional IT with public and private clouds (on premises or off) can be the right approach to address these challenges.

A hybrid multicloud model provides the flexibility to provision new workloads quickly in the public cloud while providing the control businesses need for workloads that are best suited for an on-premises cloud or data center.

Vess Natchev

Power Cloud Team Leader, IBM Systems & Technology Group

Businesses therefore should start (or continue) their hybrid multicloud transformation by evaluating their IT infrastructure footprint and envisioning the desired end-state: an integrated, open, flexible and secure architecture that’s ready for whatever technology comes next.

Every organization’s hybrid multicloud infrastructure will be unique, dependent upon their particular business and technology needs. Businesses should prioritize those needs and make an IT purchasing plan that addresses both ongoing mission-critical maintenance and future growth.

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of organizations already have de facto multicloud environments due to public cloud adoption by autonomous business units.

Source: “Assembling Your Cloud Orchestra,” IBM Institute for Business Value, 2018

Orchestrate and Integrate

As businesses strive to compete in a rapidly changing technological landscape, the ability to save costs by dynamically scaling IT resources is essential. When deploying new projects or experimenting with new applications, the limitations of on-premises infrastructure (including traditional data centers and private cloud) can quickly become apparent; systems engineers realize their existing infrastructure lacks the compute, storage or virtualization resources they need.

By partnering with an enterprise public cloud provider, however, companies can gain potentially limitless external IT resources, typically paying for services on an as-needed basis. They still retain their on-premises system, with all the security and control it provides, but by expanding into the public cloud they effectively augment their existing infrastructure.

This hybrid multicloud approach adds levels of flexibility, power and expandability that would be otherwise cost-prohibitive to internally implement and maintain.

As soon as our clients want extra processing power, all we have to do to scale up is flick a switch, and they have all the capacity they need. There is no need for me to ring up a supplier to order extra physical infrastructure, take time out to plug it in or employ more staff to manage a sprawling scale-out architecture.

Ron Argent

CEO and founder, Cognition Foundry

Enjoy True Agility

With a hybrid multicloud IT strategy, enterprises need to manage user access to IT assets and provide network protection across multiple clouds and on-premises environments. The ability to deploy a single-access policy across the infrastructure is the key to simplifying security.

By enjoying the distinct features that private and public clouds have to offer, companies with a hybrid multicloud infrastructure stand to gain the best of both worlds. Still, effective implementation—with good internal controls at the business-unit level and enterprise-wide corporate governance—takes collaboration and hard work.

To do this well, businesses need an open and flexible hybrid multicloud solution that grants them the ability to deploy and move applications and data easily, quickly, securely and cost-effectively. This approach facilitates true freedom in the form of total IT scalability and selective workload provisioning. And, most important, a multicloud architecture enables companies to perform with the kind of agility that today’s business operations demand.

The Ongoing Journey to Modernization

Technology startups—and the enterprise business units that emulate them—tend to be fluid and fast. To gain traction in new markets or remain competitive in existing ones, they need to constantly experiment, iterate and improve the solutions they offer to customers. But to achieve that, their IT system architectures have to be as efficient as possible.

Take, for instance, blockchain-based investment firm Shuttle Fund’s desire to establish a cutting-edge infrastructure that could securely facilitate cryptocurrency investment opportunities. The problem: the investment fund needed a system flexible enough to host diverse portfolios of ever-evolving digital tokens, while also being secure enough to prevent malicious actors from gaining access to the keys that unlock them. The solution: build a Linux-based, open-systems architecture employing virtual servers, secure containers and pervasive data encryption.

But you don’t have to be in the blockchain business to benefit from a modernized infrastructure. Any organization can gain a high degree of computing agility by modernizing their IT infrastructure.

Choose the Open Path

Developed in the early 1990s as an open-source operating system built by a community of volunteers, Linux quickly became the operating system of choice for system administrators seeking a flexible, stable, highly secure and cost-effective operating system. Now Linux can be found everywhere, from consumer smartphones and video game consoles to enterprise mainframes and supercomputers.

Not every company, however, is aware of Linux’s immediate business value. Linux provides the underpinnings of a flexible IT architecture. As an open operating system, it enables flexibility of application deployment with the use of Linux containers, open APIs and microservices.

What is a container?

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A primarily Linux-based modular, lightweight application environment within which small software programs can run relatively independent of other system processes

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A tool to package software programs into standalone entities that can be easily deployed and updated without adversely affecting the other components of a larger application

The first step to achieving the level of performance to compete with the most agile of startups is identifying the specific business opportunity Linux presents. A mainframe running Linux can serve as a strong foundation for transformative technologies that companies would be wise to explore.

Linux has proven to the world that open-source software can become as robust as software developed by traditional means. In a way, we can say that Linux is built around the concept of ‘open’ and is laying down the foundational technologies that other solutions, such as cloud systems, are built upon.

Rodrigo Ceron

IBM Master Inventor

Implement an Open Hybrid Multicloud Environment

Every enterprise faces unique challenges when it comes to implementing new technologies without sacrificing the investments it already has made. Fortunately, in most cases there’s no need to remove or rewrite applications, databases and infrastructure components that keep a business running.

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of companies say they use multicloud solutions for a flexible, modular infrastructure that quickly absorbs and leverages technological advances, while 62% employ multicloud to create innovative business models.

Source: “Assembling Your Cloud Orchestra,” IBM Institute for Business Value, 2018

In fact, a Linux-based hybrid multicloud environment is designed to handle complexity. By building an open architecture, businesses can expand existing infrastructure incrementally. This enables new avenues for innovation in the cloud, such as highly iterative DevOps deployments of microservices, without affecting the availability of core applications and workloads. Over time, those core operations can be reapportioned for optimal performance.

Implementing the right hybrid multicloud solution and setup—and orchestrating it well—can transform traditional IT infrastructures into agile ecosystems ready to exploit business opportunities as soon as they appear.

Applications that have a high degree of elasticity, along with requirements for variable scalability and global reach, are frequently deployed onto a range of public cloud services. Workloads with strict data, security and compliance requirements—as well as those that are resource-intensive, latency-sensitive, or dependent on legacy platforms—are typically run on-premises.

Rodrigo Ceron

IBM Master Inventor

Unleash the Power of Containers and Kubernetes

Once you have a modern Linux-based hybrid multicloud at your disposal, your cloud native development team can code, test, deploy, update and scale applications with levels of speed and responsiveness that weren’t possible even a few years ago.

One of the most effective ways to do this is by building applications, or refactoring existing ones, in the form of modular microservices whose components can be housed in containers—relatively self-sufficient software environments that are easy to individually move and modify. If end users complain about a bug, DevOps now can identify the containers responsible, or just ship out new ones, and resolve an issue in days rather than weeks or months.

But in a hybrid multicloud world, orchestration is everything, and this is where the open-source tool known as Kubernetes comes in. If containers are the individual musicians in an orchestra, then Kubernetes is the conductor, intelligently ensuring that every musician knows exactly when, where and how to contribute to create a harmonious software system.

By 2021, it’s estimated that at least 80% of new apps will be developed using containers, and 65% of companies are expected to be using automated container orchestration tools such as Kubernetes.

Source: “Assembling Your Cloud Orchestra,” IBM Institute for Business Value, 2018

DevOps teams using containers and Kubernetes are able to engage in a continuous deployment cycle that makes it easier to stay at least a step ahead of close competitors. When combined with cloud-powered technologies like AI, the dynamic capabilities of today’s best-performing companies become available to virtually any enterprise.

Need to scale a service up? Simply deploy more containers to add up to the required processing power for that service. Don’t have enough resources to support peak demand? Scale out to the cloud by sending containers there. Does that start sounding agile enough to help businesses speed up their innovation and product cycles? I believe it does.

Rodrigo Ceron

IBM Master Inventor