Companies that embrace Big Blue as a cloud partner are benefitting from a business-first strategy that will help carry them well ahead of the competition, IBM Canada vice president of cloud and software sales Frank Attaie told CDN  in a recent interview.

While he couldn’t disclose specific details regarding new features that customers can expect in 2018, such as additional Canadian data centres, Attaie emphasized that continuous innovation is a guiding principle for IBM, which focuses on delivering a product businesses can use as much as cutting-edge infrastructure. In the case of cloud, that means viewing public cloud services through multiple lenses, including hybrid, native, and industrial.

“Unfortunately, people sometimes look at cloud as hitting the magic button and everything runs tomorrow,” Attaie said. “A big differentiator for IBM is that we know it’s not just about new plumbing, it’s about having the capability, whether it’s setting up servers, environmental management, or industry solutions, to meet the specific needs of our clients.”

For example, he said, the company’s hybrid cloud strategy recognizes that the majority of businesses, whether startups or mature enterprises, have more information behind their firewalls than in data centres.

“In order to help your clients embrace the elasticity and benefits of the cloud model, you have to acknowledge and appreciate that they have built core assets as a company that are behind a firewall,” Attaie said. “IBM’s biggest differentiator is that we acknowledge and recognize the value of that data.”

Which isn’t to say the other lenses IBM uses when developing cloud services – native and industry – aren’t important as well, he added.

“Solving industry problems at scale can only be done when you have the foundational elements that you built on the back of the cloud,” Attaie said, noting that the company has recently seen especially high demand for industry-specific services from the government and financial services sectors, who often rely on its Watson-powered analytic and data platforms to run their fraud prevention efforts, and from the startups designed to support them.

“Companies like Dream Payments are using the IBM cloud in the public space to build their cloud native applications and serve Canadian banks and other large businesses not only in Canada but globally as well,” he said. And though Attaie could not name specific clients for confidentiality reasons, he said that IBM is also helping “companies that have run the financial systems that are the backbone of our country on traditional data centres” migrate to the cloud as well.

As for new features in 2018, when asked if IBM would be adding Canadian data centres this year to its global network of nearly 60, Attaie said the company is “constantly innovating and investing and growing,” but did not elaborate.

“We are constantly looking at what makes sense in how to expand and where to expand,” he said.

Beyond Canada, however, he emphasized that cloud has become core to IBM’s strategy, with the company constantly taking advantage of its infrastructure and expertise to develop solutions for new high-value sectors and workloads.

After all, he noted, the global public cloud market is projected to grow by more than 20 per cent in 2018, to approximately $176 billion USD.

At present, he said, IBM’s cloud business is worth $12.7 billion USD.

“What we’re doing in Canada is indicative of our overall global strategy, and a significant part of IBM as a company,” Attaie said. “And if you look at the compound annual growth [of public cloud]… we’re absolutely on the right path.”



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