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“Multi-Cloud and Containerization will Shape Cloud in 2018”

Chetan Naik, Vice-President Sales, IBM India/South Asia, in an extensive conversation with Amit Singh, elaborated on how cloud, cognitive and AI-based security will empower the IT landscape in 2018

What is your outlook for IT in 2018?

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Chetan Naik, Vice-President Sales, IBM India/South Asia

As organizations continue their digital transformation journey, we will see an increased adoption of augmented intelligence (AI), IoT, cloud, analytics, security and blockchain as they accelerate scalability and reach.

The key trends for 2018 will revolve around cloud, cognitive and security underpinned by data at its core.

Most organizations will deploy cloud not just for cost savings but for the ability to make sense of the data using cognitive. Cloud as a technology needs to adapt, evolve, and learn to address changing business priorities which will be largely data-driven in the coming years. IBM is advancing a multi-cloud and hybrid strategy that helps companies easily and securely move between different clouds.

With cloud services being the key platform for companies to scale up and transform their customer experience, cloud security and AI driven security services are going to be the defining trends for 2018. Robotics process automation and AI for professionals will also be the new investment areas for enterprise.

Which are the verticals expected to drive the IT spending in 2018 and why?

India, despite challenges, continues to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Demonetization and GST roll out have long term economic benefits despite having slowed the economy in short term. These policy reforms are set to trigger a digitization wave even at the grass root levels of the economy. This will lead to increased adoption of key technologies including AI, analytics, IoT, delivered over a hybrid cloud platform.

We expect to witness an upswing in IT adoption across verticals such as healthcare, retail, BFSI and manufacturing. Industries such as banking and telecom are set to undergo significant consolidation in the medium term. In a bid to compensate for erosion in core business, telecom companies may look toward new avenues of growth as B2B service providers and revamp their business models around data/content.

Government/RBI initiatives (e.g. demonetization, payment bank licenses etc.) are accelerating India towards a cashless economy, creating unique opportunities for tech savvy banks and are forcing technology-based transformation of traditional players. Increased security attacks will make IT security a top priority in 2018 and beyond as firms direct a major portion of their IT spend on digital transformation.

IoT is expected to transform how businesses will be operated over the next few years. What sort of businesses will most utilize IoT and why?

Today, IoT insights are translating into new business models, growth opportunities, and new markets to offer deeper, more insightful engagement with customers.

IoT has reached an inflection point in India, and around the world.  With the global IoT market exploding at $14.2 trillion by 2022, companies across all industries are looking to capture the IoT opportunity. India has one of the highest percentage of enterprises that have adopted or are planning to adopt IoT in the world. Analysts state that India is projected to have 10 percent of the world’s IoT devices by 2020, a market size of $9 billion, and a 30 percent YoY growth rate through 2022.

IBM India is focused on digital transformation solutions that utilize Watson’s cognitive capabilities, cloud, IoT, security, Block Chain and ecosystem. IBM is entering a new phase with IoT – business reinvention – and it is coming to life in India with more than 35 partners in the IoT space, including Reliance Unlimit, Tech Mahindra, Arrow and Avnet. And, this is just the beginning!

Moreover, IBM is working with new clients in India, like Schneider Electric, KONE India, and KPIT – adding to over 6,000 global clients across industries in IoT.

The mass amount of information being transformed into actionable knowledge is enhancing the decision making of businesses through Big Data and analytics solutions. How is it changing the life of businesses?

With the evolution of cognitive and digital technologies, data is the cornerstone of success for businesses. In order to stay relevant for the future, enterprises need to think data first and make data analytics a part of business strategy conversation.

In 2018, we expect increased adoption of open-source platforms such as Hadoop by developers and the development of scalable open platforms like Apache Atlas will take center stage. Platforms such as Hortonworks in collaboration with cognitive solutions will help everyone from data scientists to business leaders better analyze and manage large volumes of data and accelerate data-driven decision-making.

Moving forward, we will also see increased use of governed data lakes as it provides enterprises single reference architecture, thereby enhancing business agility and improving decision making.

As data analytics become more pervasive, we foresee data science becoming a planned team effort and move beyond the role of data scientists and analysts. Enterprises will need to invest in re-skilling and up-skilling employees around data at large for strategic advantage. The interactive, collaborative and cloud-based IBM DSX (Data Science Experience) helps data scientists use multiple tools to activate insights and build solutions specifically around machine learning. With the dawn of the AI and ML era, enterprises need to invest and train around evolved data science platforms.

How is cloud expected to change the way business is done over the next 12 months? Please elaborate on the adoption trend around cloud in 2018?

As an organization, we foresee hybrid/multi-cloud strategy to be the way forward. In the coming years, to stay ahead of competition, visionary organizations will recognize that they can exploit cloud as a technology convergence platform for more advanced strategic reinvention. Cloud solutions melded with disruptive and emerging technologies – like blockchain, AI, IoT, big data and predictive analytics – can revolutionize businesses and industries.

Our new offerings like IBM Cloud Private (ICP) is delivering a single platform located behind a customer’s firewall for building cloud-native applications or modernizing existing ones. Similarly, IBM Cloud Object Storage (ICOS) is developed for a highly scalable cloud storage service, designed for high durability, resiliency and security. Lastly, our hybrid cloud portfolio provides clients with a consistent way to monitor, manage and optimize workloads across their multi-cloud environment.

We foresee clients across BFSI, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, telecom, government, manufacturing, e-commerce, and retail looking at a multi-cloud strategy with a larger emphasis to co-innovate with the ecosystem of startups, partners and developers. In a nutshell, we foresee technologies like multi-cloud and cloud containerization helping shape the cloud market in 2018.

Along with PaaS and Saas, IaaS is one of the three main pillars of cloud computing services and all the three solutions are set to increase in 2018. IBM has built a $14.2 billion cloud business and already has public cloud data centers in the country.

What are the unique trends you foresee in the security landscape in 2018? What are the emerging technologies in the security space and the corresponding demand from verticals/businesses?

In India, the security market trend is moving from ‘detect’ to ‘respond’. Due to the GDPR regulations put in by the EU, companies that do business in Europe are increasingly looking at technology and automation to help them respond faster to threats, which is a key factor in the regulation. Data privacy is becoming paramount in India, and Indian regulators are also in process of coming out with data security and privacy regulations.

AI-based security applications can read and understand security – they analyze every incident, identify root causes, methods, trends and predict the next pattern even before it happens. Because of the huge volumes of data and information to be dealt with there will be a lot of automation, using AI also.

Cognitive and AI technology strengthens our defenses across the system by infusing deep insights derived from crunching huge amounts of data, into the defense and response systems. IBM for instance, has trained Watson in security and then integrated the technology in QRadar, our security intelligence platform, with results that found 10 times as many incidents, 60 times faster.

Cyber security will be of importance for the FSS sector as well as for manufacturing and IT/ITeS on account of implementation of GDPR regulations. The government and PSU sectors are growing in India with large investments and will be the key for security industry as well.

In 2018, there will be a major thrust towards building the partner ecosystem to enable deployment and enhance coverage. The demand supply gap of skilled workforce in the sector is still a key concern, leading to a continuing dearth of security professionals available in the market. For product enterprises to scale up, leveraging partners and the channel ecosystem is the way forward.

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