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Hybrid cloud technology is safe but the security it offers isn’t absolute

(Srinivasan, 2019)

In 2017, Gartner’s Cloud Strategy Leadership report predicted that by 2019 business solutions would assume the use of public cloud as a common asset. This is becoming true as tech giants such as IBM believe that the success of future cloud business is going to be determined by whether a company can create an open environment for multi-cloud and whether it is hybrid enabled or not.

“We call this strategy to take our customers on a full cloud journey as advising on cloud, moving to cloud, building on cloud and managing cloud,” says Subram Natarajan, CTO, IBM India – South Asia.

The same Gartner report also predicted that through 2020, an increasing percentage of annual IT spending will be directly or indirectly impacted by a cloud shift, making cloud computing one of the most disruptive forces in IT markets. Incidentally, cloud and cognitive software have been driving revenue for IBM for several months now. In first quarter of FY19-20, its cloud business revenue was accelerated by 12% in constant currency terms and software as a service (SaaS) revenue by 15% in constant currency terms, suggesting that clients have been increasingly spending on cloud.

“Over the last several months we’ve talked about the next chapter of cloud which focuses on shifting mission-critical work to the cloud and optimising everything from supply chains to core banking systems. To address this opportunity, enterprises need to be able to move and manage data, services, and workflows across multiple clouds. And they need to be able to address security concerns, data protection and protocols, availability, and cloud management. And so, we have been reshaping our business to address this opportunity, investing heavily to build capabilities across our business, like IBM Cloud, IBM Cloud Private and IBM Cloud Private for Data, the IBM Multicloud Manager, cloud garages, cloud migration services, and cloud-optimised systems. These are the innovations that are driving our $19.5 billion of cloud revenue,” said Jim Kavanaugh, IBM’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, during an investor briefing.

Cognitive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, modern technologies such as Internet of Things and Blockchain are very cloud friendly. IBM has opened its AI offering, Watson, as a service, enabled by APIs. “The first set of business value comes from cognitive technologies which are hosted on cloud,” says Natarajan.

These technologies also collect all the more data than ever (both in quantity and quality) and this is where data security becomes a top priority.

“Hybrid cloud technology is safe but the security it offers is not absolute. We help our clients construct their own security operations centres,” says Natarajan. While cognitive technologies offer great business value, they can also be a threat to cybersecurity. “Today hackers are using AI to hack into systems. We are creating a cloud of all these threats and looking at cybersecuirty intelligently. It becomes an extension of our services and gets built into them right from the beginning,” explains Natarajan.

While solution providers such as IBM are preparing to tackle threats to cyber security, Gartner predicts that through 2020, 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault. Now, the important question that the customers need to ask is how their employees use external applications, especially in an open environment and virtually impenetrable public cloud. Customers should also reassess their practices and stop holding cloud providers entirely responsible for any data breach.

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