The world is transforming digitally and progressing with technologies and so are the organizations. With each new day, the organizations are waking up to a new technology that is disrupting the industries in some way or the other. Interestingly, most of the organizations are keen in adopting these technologies which are purely data-driven, however, without being much aware of security needs. Recently, CXOToday caught up with Gaurav Sharma, Vice President, IBM India Software Labs and Vice President, Growth IBM India South Asia, to explore more about the cloud challenges, their cloud platform and technological trends in general.
“We’ve seen the rapid adoption of cloud across industries including retail, manufacturing and insurance. With the evolution of cloud and heaps of data being collected, one of the biggest challenges is to transform it into quality insights, which in turn could help transform businesses. In fact, it is a turning point for industries and society in general,” said Sharma.
Today, companies are beginning to see the increased efficiency and innovation potential that a robust cloud data platform offers and are now tapping into newer technologies like AI, ML to unlock cloud and its full potential. Sharma believes that the powerful combination of Cloud and AI is helping companies to refine data at very fast rates, enabling them to derive maximum business value. Data scientists spend a majority of their time finding and preparing data. Not only data scientists but business analysts also face similar struggles to obtain the data they need to arrive at quick insights—often having to wait weeks for their IT team to extract data from the source systems. Sharma mentioned, nearly 80 percent of data is still with enterprises and incubators are likely to become disruptors.
Amidst this, data refinery, an intuitive cloud-based data preparation service, comes to a quick rescue of all those dealing with data analysis. The tool removes the limitations of working with spreadsheets, which generally can’t cope with data sets that are too large to fit in memory. And AI, is going to be the game changing technology, said Sharma, adding that IBM shares its principle in the era of AI which includes: Purpose of data, Transparency and Skills.
In a multi-cloud environment, companies are not dependent on a single cloud vendor which means data is spread all over. This makes the security of data even more important. Being amongst the top 3 cloud vendors, IBM has “One-single architecture” across all its deployment.
What makes IBM unique?
Being one of the largest cloud vendors and the enormity of the data it deals with absolute efficiency, IBM’s one single architecture, its domain and data knowledge is something that makes it stand unique.
On the uniqueness of IBM, Sharma said, “We are unlocking the tribal knowledge.” Having said that, he explained how IBM’s Watson studio has made the working smoother and channelized. Sharma shared the flat hierarchical model which is pursued by the engineers at Watson Studio, which is a self-learning platform.
The studio operates following a chain: Data Scientists > Data Engineers > Business Analysts > Application Developers
Or in simpler words, the chain could be explained as:
Access the data > Catalog the data > Create the model > Deploy the model > Monitoring
The unique feature is that they work collaboratively on one platform. It is the deep domain knowledge why IBM Watson is being approached by multiple organizations and how it is bringing a shift in cloud functioning.
How is IBM dealing with security concerns on cloud?
Sharma said that as organizations look for the specialized security needs of using cloud platforms, they also look out for trusted technology partners. Understanding how crucial cloud security is, IBM has 60 data centres spread globally which deals with security concerns on the multiple levels. It suggests that an organization should evaluate cloud providers based on these five aspects of security:
1. Identity and access management: Authentication, identity and access controls
2. Network security: Protection, isolation and segmentation
3. Data protection: Data encryption and key management
4. Application security and DevSecOps: Including security testing and container security
5. Visibility and intelligence: Monitoring and analyzing logs, flows and events for patterns
The first cloud services with mainframe-level data protection was recently launched by IBM. Now, developers and clients can build, deploy and host applications with an industry-leading data protection that encrypts information in memory (use), in transit and at rest. This technology is designed to help protect against insider threats.
He further informed, “The new IBM Cloud Hyper Protect offering includes four new services that are made possible by bringing IBM Z into IBM’s global public cloud data centres. Through the IBM Cloud catalog, developers can gain easy access to industry-leading security capabilities to modernize their applications in the IBM Cloud.”
At the end, security should promote business success which includes reduced time to value, reduced capital expenditure and reduced administrative burden, IBM believes.
IBM’s collaboration with Niti Aayog
In order to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds, Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India. It is an initiative taken by Niti Aayog to provide a work space where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode; and learn innovation skills. Young children will get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
The mentor platform (ATL InnoNet) has been developed by IBM. The platform, according to Sharma, provides first-of-a-kind features like improving the engagement of the student through gamification and automatic badges to both mentors and mentees for their active participation and outcomes. It allows, mentors to recommend new ideas, host competition and challenges for the students, in addition to providing key insights to ATL leadership on mentor matching, mentor assignments based on students’ interests, sentiments from the forums/chats and discussions and mentor effectiveness using cognitive intelligence.
“To enable these functions, some of the Watson API’s will be deployed shortly including- Watson Knowledge, Watson Natural Language Understanding and Watson Assistant, said Sharma, adding that the company is now engulfing more industries and making further developments in Watson studio is their plan for the coming year.