BENGALURU: Global technology major, IBM’s cloud business continues to grow amid the covid-19 crisis as it leverages its $34 billion acquisition of enterprise software maker, Red Hat. In an interview to Mint, Sandip Patel, managing director, IBM India & South Asia, spoke about his strategy to sail through the challenging times, the rising demand for its cloud solutions and shared an update on IBM Cloud Satellite’s launch in India.
What is IBM’s strategy to tide over the covid-19 crisis?
As we weather the covid-19 storm and reboot, we must acknowledge that technology has been the foundation to tide through these unprecedented times. We are witnessing three fundamental shifts in the industry today. First, we are seeing acceleration of digital ecosystems touching every aspect of our lives. Secondly, there are new business models emerging – driving cost efficiency, agility and built on a foundation of trust and lastly, the emergence of a network economy that is defining a whole new way of working and interacting with people. We are also leveraging technology to re-skill our employees and all of us. We need to learn new technologies and adapt to new ways of working and ultimately build the resilience to prevail through any such scenario that we may have to encounter. We saw employees in India/South Asia clocking 2.8 million learning hours, earning close to 50,000 badges on key topics including Cognitive Practitioner, Enterprise Design Thinking, and Automation Essentials on our Think Academy digital platform, IBM’s learning program.
Has the demand for your cloud solutions increased due to the crisis?
In the current crisis, businesses need the ability to operate anywhere, with agility. Cloud solutions can help with a seamless transition to remote business with a secure, flexible cloud and digital services for mobility, virtualisation, collaboration and support. To prepare for transition at scale in times like these, companies need to plan their journey to cloud around a couple of areas such as embracing a hybrid architecture, shifting to “as-a-service" strategy to use cloud-based tools, applications and platforms, and shifting and sharing responsibility for infrastructure with cloud partners.
When will IBM Cloud Satellite be available in India?
IBM Cloud Satellite gives organisations the ability to use IBM Cloud anywhere—on IBM Cloud, on-premises, or at the edge – delivered as-a-service from a single pane of glass controlled through the public cloud. With IBM Cloud Satellite, customers can gain the flexibility to run their applications where it makes sense, while still leveraging all the security and operations benefits of public cloud. Satellite locations can be in on-premises data centres, co-location centres, or the edge. Enterprise applications can run in close proximity to their data stores, reducing latency and increasing data security. With IBM Cloud Satellite, as with IBM public cloud, organisations get to focus on app development, not platform differences. This will be available to clients in India later this year.
Telecom being a focus area, how do you see 5G rollout in India?
Post covid-19, a delay of at least six-eight months is likely in 5G spectrum auctions and field trials. One would expect the field trials to commence by the end of the year. The initial 5G rollouts may start in second half of 2021. We believe mainstream scaling of 5G in India will start around 2022 onwards. Probably, the biggest opportunity for 5G is Enhanced Mobile Broadband made possible by the unique 5G characteristics such as spectral efficiency, extreme data rates, ultra-low latency, high reliability, high availability, network slicing, etc. Given explosive data growth, 5G offers a dramatically superior production option for telcos compared to previous mobile technology generations. This opens up opportunities in domains like industrial IoT and industrial automation at scale. Latency sensitive use cases like emergency response, robotic surgery, autonomous vehicles, among others become possible post 5G.
How are you leveraging the Red Hat acquisition to its fullest?
There’s a unique window of opportunity for IBM and Red Hat to establish Linux, Containers, and Kubernetes as the new standard. We can make Red Hat OpenShift the default choice for hybrid cloud in the same way Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the default choice for the operating system. We can provide the end-to-end solution that only the two of us can build. Last year, we transformed our software portfolio to be cloud-native and optimised it to run on Red Hat OpenShift. Our recently-launched Watson AIOps built on Red Hat OpenShift will be available globally from June onwards, offered as a cartridge for Cloud Pak for Data. In India, we have seen lot of interest from the banking and the financial sector.