Standing in front of a blue digital background, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna welcomed viewers to the virtual IBM Think conference on Tuesday. Originally set to be held in San Francisco for the second year in a row, IBM Think quickly became one of the many tech events forced online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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“There’s no question this pandemic is a powerful force of disruption and an unprecedented tragedy, but it is also a critical turning point,” Krishna said. “History will look back on this as the moment when the digital transformation of business and society suddenly accelerated, and together, we laid the groundwork for the post-COVID world.”

Krishna highlighted the importance of hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) in pushing forward digital transformation, particularly in this chaotic time.

“What has changed is the pace at which they’re being adopted,” Krishna said. “Transformation journeys that were going to last a few years are now being compacted into months. They’re thinking about how to use technology to reassess and reimagine modes of consumption, supply, interaction and productivity. They’re looking for long lasting answers on what they can do with technology to address the key issues that COVID-19 has brought to light.”

Some of these questions involve how supply chains can become even more resilient to resist global shocks; which workload should be moved to the public cloud; which IT tasks can be automated so that a workforce can focus on higher value ones; and how an organization can secure its IT infrastructure, including remote working.

“If there’s anything the COVID 19 pandemic has taught us is the critical importance of technology solutions that enables speed, flexibility, insight and innovation,” Krishna said.

To help companies work toward digital transformation during this unprecedented time, Krishna introduced some new tools from IBM that highlight the benefits of hybrid cloud, AI, 5G, and edge computing.

IBM Think key announcements

  • AI for IT

“AI for IT are capabilities that give every CIO [and] every technologist the ability to automate their IT infrastructures to immediately reduce costs and to be more resilient,” Krishna said.

A major component of this product is called Watson AIOps, which relies on AI to help respond eto problems in real time, helping organizations prevent issues from occurring before they happen, according to Krishna.

“Watson AIOps is built on the latest release of Red hat OpenShift, so it can run across any hybrid cloud environment. It also works with technologies at the center of today’s distributed work environment, including Slack and box,” Krishna added.

“AI can play a critical role in assisting clients during this uncertain time,” Krishna said. And AI for IT is the perfect illustration to delve deeper into the powerful role AI can play for your business.”

  • Program for independent software vendors and SaaS providers

Between security, data protection, governance, resiliency, and navigating regulatory bodies, banks have a complex environment to maneuver when moving workloads to the cloud. IBM’s financial services-ready public cloud aims to address all of those constraints, Krishna said.

“To reinforce this, IBM is launching a new program for independent software vendors and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers,” Krishna said. “This program is designed to help them demonstrate that they have met the stringent security resiliency and compliance requirements of the banks, and they can do this on IBM’s financial services ready public cloud.”

  • IBM cloud satellite

Krishna also introduced the IBM cloud satellite, which extends cloud services to meet client needs.

“[IBM cloud satellite] can be delivered as a service on-premise or at the edge. Clients can increase their business agility by automating deployment and management of cloud native services across all their computing environments, for both development and operations,” Krishna said.

“What this means is that with IBM cloud satellite, our clients can run workloads where it makes the most sense,” he added.
The cloud is specifically architected with an open source Kubernetes foundation, allowing for better portability, visibility, and control, Krishna said.

  • 5G and edge computing

The last announcement Krishna made involved new edge in telco network cloud solutions built on Red Hat OpenStack and RedHat OpenShift.

“With 5G and edge computing, businesses can bring competition and data storage closer to where data is created and this makes it easier to act on the insights that are generated from the data,” Krishna said. “But with computing done in so many places–on public clouds, private clouds, and now increasingly at the edge– the challenge for business is to connect all the different elements into a cohesive platform that enables agility and rapid delivery of these new features and services.”

This announcement from IBM and Red Hat “enable[s] clients to run workloads anywhere–from a data center to multiple clouds to the edge,” Krishna said.

“We fundamentally believe that winners in the 5G and edge era will be those who embrace a hybrid cloud approach, based on open technologies and standards,” Krishna said. “AI, cloud, and 5g are among the most powerful core technologies that all of you will use to transform how your business operates.”

For more, check out IBM launches Watson AIOps, series of automation tools for IT operations, 5G and edge offerings on ZDNet.

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IBM CEO giving keynote address at IBM Think digital conference.
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