Shaping the workplace of the future

Businesses must cater for the data demands of mobile, social and the IoT without disrupting day-to-day operations or security...

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Its cloud computing programme director Lynda Stadtmueller, wrote: "[The] SoftLayer portfolio addresses prevalent concerns about the cloud." She went on to detail how the secure multi-tenant environment offers high - and reliable -performance at a competitive price point, rapid provisioning, control and protection against network-related bottlenecks. 

In March 2014, in the wake of the PRISM scandal, Robert Weber, IBM's Senior Vice President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel, wrote an open letter to clients about government access to data.

"For decades, clients around the world have trusted IBM with their data. We believe we have earned that trust," he wrote.

"Technology often challenges us as a society. This is one instance in which both business and government must respond. Data is the next great natural resource, with the potential to improve lives and transform institutions for the better.

"However, establishing and maintaining the public's trust in new technologies is essential. IBM is committed to being a responsible participant in this discussion and a strong advocate for our clients."

In essence, IBM's cloud offerings provide the agility, accessibility and flexibility the modern enterprise craves without compromising security in any way.

Power of many

While IBM can achieve a great deal on its own, that power is maximised through a network of trusted partners and by forging great alliances with other industry greats. 

In July 2014 Apple and IBM joined together in an exclusive partnership that would deliver the best of both companies to businesses to move enterprise mobility to the next level. The news was music to the ears of organisations that have thus far struggled to adequately juggle between aesthetics and practicality.

As part of the alliance, more than industry specific apps are being created, in addition to IBM cloud services being purposely optimised for iOS to help organisations better control, manage and secure their Apple devices. These are backed by enhanced support and other packaged solutions.

"Mobility - combined with the phenomena of data and cloud - is transforming business and our industry in historic ways, allowing people to re-imagine work, industries and professions," said Ginni Rometty, IBM's Chairman, President and CEO, at the time of the partnership announcement.

"This alliance with Apple will build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM's leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services. We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can't imagine living without. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform."

Then, in mid 2015, IBM announced it had entered into a global union with cloud collaboration, file and storage giant Box. This partnership sees integration between the two companies' cloud offerings as well as the development of new, targeted products and services that deliver industry specific business value to organisations with an array of work-related challenges.

The resultant aim of the alliance is to deliver the simple, yet secure collaboration solutions businesses need, tapping into local data but with a global reach. IBM's analytics and social solutions, such as Connections and Verse and Cognos and Watson respectively will be married with IBM's focus on security and the power of the cloud to achieve these aims and more.

"Today's digital enterprises demand world-class technologies that transform how their organisations operate both internally and externally," said Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO of Box.

"This extensive alliance between Box and IBM opens up an exciting opportunity for both companies to reach new markets and deliver unified solutions and services that can redefine industries, advance secure collaboration and revolutionise enterprise mobility." 

Where next?

The demands placed upon IT professionals and business decision makers are only set to grow, as will the data deluge. Indeed, the IoT is expected to generate 1.6 zettabytes by 2020, according to ABI Research.

"The data originating from connected products and processes follows a certain journey of magnitudes. The yearly volumes that are generated within endpoints are counted in yottabytes, but only a tiny fraction of this vast data mass is actually being captured for storage or further analysis," said ABI's principal analyst Aapo Markkanen.

"And of the captured volume, on average over 90 per cent is stored or processed locally without a cloud element, even though this ratio can vary greatly by application segment. So far, the locally dealt data has typically been largely inaccessible for analytics, but that is now starting to change."

The IoT-related data volume is just the tip of the iceberg. In 2014, as part of its Digital Universe research, analyst firm IDC predicted that the amount of data in the world would grow from 4.4 zettabytes to 44 zettabytes by 2020 thanks to billions of intelligent devices all connecting to the network and sending and receiving information.

As such, enterprises must start thinking today about how their technology estate and service delivery capabilities to internal and external users will look tomorrow and beyond.

"We are all headed toward the cloud. Most enterprises accept that at some point in the future, the majority of workloads and data will be cloud-delivered. What they are struggling with is when the cloud will be the norm; which workloads should be deployed via which model; and most importantly, how they can embark on a cloud

strategy that will prepare their business for the future," Frost & Sullivan's Stadtmueller said in another whitepaper.

"Faced with these uncertainties, some businesses respond with paralysis, afraid to take steps they may regret. Others try out multiple providers, only to become frustrated when anticipated benefits are offset by the high administrative burden and lack of integration across platforms."

Doing nothing is no longer a viable option. For those armed with nothing more than the fear of doing something, Stadtmueller has some advice as to how to proceed.

"A better approach is to accept that your business is on a cloud journey. You can choose your entry points: Public cloud? On-premises private cloud? SaaS? You can choose your timeline: legacy workloads first, or the next app request?" she added.

"To maximise your chance for success, you should choose your traveling partner wisely. Select a partner with the most robust cloud portfolio - one that allows you to build on your cloud strategy as your company grows, without backtracking. A partner with proven experience and expertise as a business technology leader."

Who, then, should that partner be? Given organisations must choose wisely as mistakes here can prove very costly indeed

"As an ideal partner on the cloud journey, many businesses choose IBM, whose cloud strategy is now enhanced with the infrastructure platform from SoftLayer, an IBM company," Stadtmueller added.

"IBM and its partners offer the comprehensive cloud expertise and service portfolio to help you take that next stepand the step after thatand after thatuntil you have implemented your cloud strategy."

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