IBM is using Kubernetes to help unleash its Watson artificial intelligence (AI) platform to work across any cloud environment, including private, public, or hybrid multi-cloud environments. This expansion also includes support for cloud ecosystems powered by IBM rivals like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
The move will see Watson applications like Watson Assistant and Watson OpenScale integrated with IBM’s Cloud Private (ICP) for Data and run as microservices using Kubernetes. This will allow for those microservices to be portable across the different infrastructure types and cloud ecosystems.
For IBM, the move allows it to broaden the reach of its Watson AI platform. It will also allow organizations to use the Watson platform to help analyze and manage data across all of their data sources.
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty during a keynote at this week’s IBM Think event said the move makes Watson “the most open, scalable AI for business in the world.”
The vendor early last year announced the ICP for Data extension. It allows companies to glean insight from their data resources on their way to supporting enterprise AI services. IBM has since been slowly layering in different Watson AI capabilities onto the platform, including Watson Speech-to-Text and Watson Assistant last year.
The Watson Assistant platform helps developers and non-technical users create conversational AI products, ranging from simple chatbots to complex enterprise-grade products for customer service. Watson OpenScale is IBM’s open AI platform for managing multiple AI instances.
The move could also boost IBM’s unique cloud positioning. A recent Synergy Research Group report found that IBM had lost market share among cloud infrastructure service providers during the fourth quarter of last year compared with the previous year. This made IBM the only cloud provider among the market’s five largest providers to post such a loss.
However, John Dinsdale, chief analyst at SRG, noted that IBM has a slightly different focus than its rivals “as it remains the strong leader in the hosted private cloud services segment of the market.”
Banco Santander Deal
In addition to expanding the reach of its Watson platform, IBM this week also announced a five-year, $700 million deal with Banco Santander to help the company update its IT architecture toward a hybrid cloud environment. The deal will see Santander use Watson to improve customer service and employee production.
Santander will work with IBM to enhance the bank’s recently created Cloud Competence Center. It will also use IBM’s DevOps and API Connect platforms to help develop, iterate, and launch new or upgraded applications.
IBM is working with a handful of banks on similar migrations, including ICBC Argentina, Lloyds Banking Group, and Royal Bank of Canada.