By Doug Clark, cloud leader for IBM UK and Ireland

I have a confession to make.  I like metrics.  One of the reasons I like them is that they are a great way to track the pace of change. 

Today “data” is the fuel of the revolution and the buzzword everyone uses to partner with it is “digital”

One trend that’s advancing at a blistering pace as I write this is the advance of technology. Even if you were a technophobe you couldn’t avoid the explosion of tech everywhere and in every circumstance of our ever busier lives. Consider the number of bytes of data we generate, the amount of time and money we spend online, the speed of our internet connections, even the number of apps on our phones. Whichever metric you choose, a clear conclusion can be drawn – the way we use and consume technology has changed profoundly and irreversibly. 

It’s greater than evolution, Information Technology has transformed and embedded itself in the heart of the business rather than as a support function. Tech will continue to transform many aspects of human existence; from the way that we communicate, to the way that we purchase goods, the way we track our health, the way we maintain our presence. Historically we reflect on revolutions – such as how steam and coal-powered machines once fuelled a revolution that brought us into the Industrial Age. Today “data” is the fuel of the revolution and the buzzword everyone uses to partner with it is “digital”.

Revolutions are never simple – and the demands this revolution makes are no different and seemingly full of contradiction. Despite being known as the disposable generation, we can’t just rip and replace what we already have in all its formats. So we need to harness increasingly sophisticated technology to bridge to this era, an era that demands 24/7 access of relevant timely and accurate data – digested and served in an increasingly flexible and mobile level of access.

And what underpins this revolution? At IBM we believe that organisations of all sizes stand to benefit from a better understanding of cloud. Not only to highlight the value that cloud can bring to their business, but also to realise how those cloud offerings can be tailored to best fit their needs. At Cloud World Forum in London we’re aiming to help promote this understanding, and to bring the potential of the cloud to organisations across the UK.

Cloud allows organisations to build systems of engagement that are suited to the dynamic nature of the digital era.

This potential lies in a whole range of concepts and tools that were unheard of just a few years ago – big data and analytics, hyperscale computing, cognitive technologies, the Internet of Things, etc. Equipping organisations with these tools allows them to mine the vast quantities of data available, mould it into actionable insights .

Part of the value of these digital-era tools is that they are highly responsive, often taking input in near real-time, and can rapidly change and evolve. These qualities are ill-matched with the established IT systems of many companies, which are traditionally static systems of record. Cloud allows organisations to build systems of engagement that are suited to the dynamic nature of the digital era.

Unfortunately, the transition to the cloud has not always been a smooth one. Companies not willing to make the significant investment into a personal private cloud have largely been presented with only one alternative: a share in a public cloud, and the concerns over integration and security that implies. Even larger organisations that are willing and able to set up a private cloud face a huge challenge to develop within the rigidity of their larger existing IT infrastructure.

IBM is pioneering a process of migration to the cloud that is as flexible as the fundamental principles of Cloud computing. We believe that the future for Cloud is in a hybrid model; one seamlessly integrating on-premises and external infrastructure to maximise efficiency.   

I believe that we’re uniquely focused on delivering this hybrid model, and it’s built on some key execution areas

Developer productivity to develop, refine and deploy apps quickly and continuously with hybrid cloud DevOps. Using cloud to deliver software faster. This includes both a digital innovation platform to compose and run next generation apps as well as the lifecycle management and coordination to deliver those apps in conjunction with traditional apps.  

Data and analytics to provide the best insight from all relevant data inside and outside the organisation and optimise data sovereignty and locality. 80% of new applications are data intensive according to IDC. Clearly, the ability to access, synthesise, analyse and replicate data is paramount for the new hybrid cloud.

Visibility, control and security everywhere that data and services exist whether on premise or off. 

Integration and portability to easily integrate, compose and deliver web and mobile apps. Organisations need integration across data, applications, and business processes. And to be able to move the app closer to the data or the data closer to app where and when it make the most sense. Our Open by Design approach provides the flexibility and freedom to choose and change environments as our clients’ needs change. IBM has a long history of support for open standards and open source initiatives and nowhere is this more important than with hybrid cloud. IBM’s Open by Design approach gives customers the freedom to choose and change environments, data and services as needed.

A properly managed cloud provides a space to develop truly creative solutions, and to realise the opportunities that the digital era provides in such abundance. IBM Cloud attends events like Cloud World Forum to spread this message and explain how we’re helping clients to respond to the digital era through the new hybrid cloud, built open by design with security everywhere.

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