With companies sending employees home to work during the COVID-19 threat, IBM offers a range of tools to support critical IT applications.
With more and more companies seeking ways to get their essential work done with a workforce that is now primarily home-based during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, IBM has joined a legion of IT vendors that have been offering some of their critical IT applications and services for free to existing customers to help in this time of crisis.
Under the new offer, nine IBM cloud products and services are now available for use by IBM customers that need them at no charge for 90 days, including IBM Cloud, Aspera file sharing and team collaboration, IBM Security, IBM Video Streaming and IBM Enterprise Video Streaming, IBM Sterling supply chain tools, IBM Blueworks Live remote collaboration tools, IBM Cloud Event Management, remote learning resources, and IBM Garage. One of the tools, IBM Aspera on Cloud, is aimed specifically at new clients.
The diverse group of products are being offered to help customers maintain their business productivity as well as they can during governmental stay-at-home orders and community shutdowns being implemented across the nation and the world while efforts are being taken to stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
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"These services--all of which run on the IBM public cloud--were chosen as they enable our customers access to the capacity, security and services they need to keep their operations running while they adjust to the new demands of an almost entirely remote workforce," Jason McGee, the vice president and CTO of the IBM Cloud Platform, said. "IBM sustains the digital operations of critical organizations that are keeping us running these days: our banks, telcos, retailers, healthcare providers, and government agencies," which are in the front lines of serving millions of residents across the nation in their communities today during the crisis, he said.
"These are the businesses enabling us to manage our banking digitally and place orders online; they're providing the network capacity to support our grocery delivery apps, and they're powering the services our first-responders require to help address the needs of patients around the globe," said McGee. Enabling all of this work and the ongoing operations of these businesses right now is IBM's public cloud, which is why the company is offering its selection of free cloud services to other companies at this time, he said.
"The offers we've announced are geared at immediately helping them continue to run securely and smoothly, despite the unprecedented shifts happening across the globe," said McGee. Many of these capabilities are being sought directly from business clients today who are asking IBM for help with a wide range of technical challenges that are being faced by those businesses.
"We're hearing and seeing firsthand from clients who are now grappling with the reality that most, if not all, of their workforces are conducting business from home," he said. "We're working hard to support these companies as they make extraordinary shifts in the way they conduct daily business."
The free services will include IBM's work behind the scenes to address the common capacity, security and productivity concerns being faced by its customers during the crisis, he added. In response, IBM workers are scaling up the capacity of its public cloud in 60 globally-dispersed data centers for customers and is also offering guidance from its own experts and from its network of ecosystem partners.
"If companies had to shift to cloud-based work-from-home on their own, many of them would encounter stability and security breaches, or network problems," said McGee. "And that's why what IBM is doing in response to this crisis right now is so important. Our focus is on ensuring that companies won't miss a beat and can maintain the same levels of security and reliability as they transition to wide-scale work-from-home through their public, private, and hybrid cloud environments."
For now, the free cloud services are being offered for 90 days each, according to the company. But those offers could potentially be extended if the pandemic-related business problems go beyond that point, he said. "It's certainly a possibility. As our environment evolves in these difficult times, we are continuing to evaluate ways we can ease the burdens our clients are facing so they can focus on driving their businesses forward."
Most of the services are only being offered to existing IBM customers at this time because they are IBM's focus right now, he said. Additional free service offers could also be provided to customers as more needs are identified.
So far, the free cloud business services include:
- IBM Cloud, which is offering the use of its open and secure hybrid cloud platform with advanced data and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities for helping customers maintain business continuity while migrating to remote work environments, including IBM Cloud Virtual Server configurations. The IBM cloud includes compute, storage, networking, applications, and more to serve customer requirements.
- IBM Aspera, a cloud service for high-speed file sharing and team collaboration, supports remote work environments and includes fast file transfer and streaming capabilities that are enabled by the IBM FASP protocol. IBM Aspera software moves data of any size across any distance, according to the company.
- IBM Security, a full-featured suite of products that offers a wide range of security-focused services to help clients protect their operations and newly-remote employees. The services also provide protection from cyber criminals who are attempting to capitalize on COVID-19 uncertainty with new targeted malware, phishing, and ransomware attacks and schemes, while also addressing other critical security needs.
- IBM Video Streaming and IBM Enterprise Video Streaming, which are aimed at new customers, allow companies to video stream their events to public audiences while they are not able to be together in large groups due to the virus. The IBM Enterprise Video Streaming product, which is typically used for employee communications, allows companies to stream communications to 20,000 authenticated users and includes 400,000 viewer hours per month. The standard IBM Video Streaming product, which is typically used for virtual conferences and events, includes 20,000 viewer hours.
- IBM Sterling, which aims to help companies navigate and solve challenges stemming from supply chain disruptions. That includes managing medical supplies and COVID-19 testing kits during today's pandemic, as well as helping to migrate retailers to a "buy online and pick up in store" strategies that are also currently in use more widely. IBM Sterling includes an open hybrid cloud environment that scales with business needs, existing IT ecosystems, and future growth, using AI and blockchain technologies.
- IBM Blueworks Live, which is a cloud-based application that gives customers the ability to bring diverse teams together so they can easily work together to document, analyze, and improve business process mapping. Blueworks Live enables remote collaboration and distributes new or changing processes to workforces.
- IBM Cloud Event Management, which is built to help teams fulfill their core goals by prioritizing, diagnosing, assigning, and resolving incidents from a central place. The service also allows the right people to be notified of what is happening, while also guiding and automating the resolution of situations.
- Remote learning resources, which includes free access to IBM Video Streaming for new K-12 education organizations as schools everywhere are going through shock waves due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IBM tools can help school districts that have closed to continue to educate their students using a wide range of IBM tools and resources.
- IBM Garage, which can be used during the crisis to provide remote help to clients to address their emerging business requirements. Using a set of proven agile practices that integrate user experience, implementation, and cultural change, companies can work on developing ideas to scale them to enterprise-scale adoption.
To take advantage of the free service offers, IBM customers can contact their account representatives to gain access, said McGee.
"As the challenges our clients are facing right now quickly evolve, we're continuing to evaluate ways we can ease the burdens they are facing so they can focus on driving their businesses forward," he said.
Helping and protecting customers, employees, and partners is a prime goal of the company during the virus crisis, he added. "We are also focused on helping our clients of all sizes recover as fast as they can and continue their operations productively."
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