IBM grows automation, data features for hybrid cloud control

IBM grows automation, data features for hybrid cloud control

Big Blue unwraps new Cloud Paks for automation and data operations

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IBM has continued enhancing its core Cloud Pak hybrid cloud software offerings, this week bolstering automation and data features that will let customers simplify everything from software provisioning and patching, to data discovery and document processing.

IBM Cloud Paks are bundles of Red Hat’s Kubernetes-based OpenShift Container Platform along with Red Hat Linux and a variety of connecting technologies to let enterprise customers deploy and manage containers on their choice of private or public infrastructure, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Alibaba.

The driving idea behind Cloud Paks is to ease the building, orchestrating and managing of multiple containers for enterprise workloads.

On the automation front, a new version of Cloud Pak for Automation includes support for IBM’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to enhance routine task automation. IBM said it has integrated RPA and artificial intelligence technology it acquired from WDG Automation in July.

RPA support features automated bots that can draft information from different sources to help define new workflows quickly. The platform includes workflow and decision-making tools to accelerate automation, IBM stated.

When AI-infused automation is applied to business processes and IT operations, it can help shorten the time between identifying an issue and responding. This is critical as unforeseen IT incidents and outages, for example, can cost businesses in both revenue and reputation, IBM stated.

IBM also said it partnered with myInvenio to bring automated process mining to Cloud Pak for Automation.  Integrated features include simulation, business rules and task mining.

The idea behind integrating process mining and task mining completes the platform for a full set of hyper-automation capabilities, where myInvenio discovers and analyses processes while other enterprise solutions within IBM’s Cloud Pak for Automation will execute any changes to the process, IBM said.

The theory of hyper-automation, which Gartner says involves the combination of multiple machine-learning, packaged-software and automation tools to deliver work, has been trending at an unrelenting pace for the past few years, but the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened demand with the sudden requirement for everything to be "digital first."

The backlog of requests from businesses has prompted more than 70 per cent of commercial organisations to undertake dozens of hyper-automation initiatives as a result, Gartner said. "Hyper-automation is now inevitable and irreversible. Everything that can and should be automated will be automated."

On the data side, IBM rolled out a new version of its Cloud Pak for Data which IBM says helps businesses  collect, organise and analyse data for data management, DataOps, governance, business analytics and AI.

The new version includes programs or accelerators built with data science properties for banking, warranty management, supply chain forecasting, and retail.

IBM Industry Accelerators, which now total 30, are sample data science assets built to solve specific industry use cases. For example, assets include sample data sets, prebuilt machine learning models, and sample dashboards, IBM stated.

The idea is that each industry accelerator is designed to help customers solve specific business problems, such as preventing credit card fraud in the banking industry.

IBM also added support for a new deep learning service capability to monitor workloads called Watson Machine Learning Accelerator and a new feature called Federated Learning that enables users to train common models using remote, secure data sets. With this feature, data sets remain secure, while the resulting models benefit from expanded training, IBM stated.

The new automation and data control features are in addition to a recently updated version of Cloud Pak for security. In October IBM expanded the role of its security-software package for hybrid-cloud deployments by improving the gathering of security data collected within customer networks and drawing on third-party threat-intelligence feeds, among other upgrades.

IBM’s Cloud Pak for Security, which features open-source technology for hunting threats and automation capabilities to speed response to cyberattacks, can bring together on a single console data gathered by customers’ existing security point products.

The new release expands its integration capabilities to include feeds from data stored and accessed from distributed locations and supports IBM’s Security Guardian system that Big Blue offers to protect databases, data warehouses and big data environments such as Hadoop.

With that information the security team can determine where sensitive data resides across hybrid-cloud environments, as well as who has access to it, how it is used and the best way to protect it, IBM stated. The new release also includes support for multivendor threat-intelligence databases.

Aside from its own X-Force Threat Intelligence Feed, the platform will also include pre-built integration with  AlienVault OTX, Cisco Threatgrid, MaxMind Geolocation, SANS Internet StormCenter and Virustotal.

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