Featuring all the top articles from IBM over the year. These are posts that have received the most number of clicks.

IBM in the News - 2016

A collection of articles highlighting IBM's activity over the last year.

IBM predicts superhero vision, nano-sized health devices in next five years

Mandy Kovacs Mandy Kovacs Published: 01/06/2017

IBM is taking steps to make the world a better place.

The company has unveiled its annual ‘Five in Five’ list today, which lays out some of the most important and groundbreaking scientific innovations that, in the next five years, could have the potential to drastically alter the way people work, live and interact.

This year’s overarching theme is “making the invisible visible,” with IBM highlighting artificial intelligence (AI), hyperimaging, macroscopes, chip technology, and smart sensors as technologies that could have a big impact on life as we know it.

We break down IBM’s predictions below:

With AI, our words will open a window into our mental health

One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, and IBM is working to assist those who suffer.

The company is developing AI systems with machine learning capabilities that can analyze and find patterns in human speech and written words, which it hopes will ultimately help health professionals predict, identify and monitor various illnesses, such as schizophrenia, mania and depression. It hopes that similar techniques can be used to help patients with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease, PTSD, and even neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism and ADHD.

“Cognitive computers can analyze a patient’s speech or written words to look for tell-tale indicators [of illness] found in language, including meaning, syntax and intonation,” the company says in a Jan. 5 press release. “Combining the results of these measurements with those from wearable devices and imaging systems and collected in a secure network can paint a more complete picture of the individual for health professionals to better identify, understand, and treat the underlying disease.”

IBM hopes that this technology, along with traditional clinical visits, will transform what were once invisible signs of suffering into “clear signals of a patients’ likelihood of entering a certain mental state or how well their treatment plan is working.”

Hyperimaging and AI will give us superhero vision

More than 99.9 percent of the electromagnetic spectrum cannot be observed by the naked eye, and while scientists have spent the last century building instruments to sense different wavelengths, these tools generally remain expensive and specialized.

Scientists at IBM are currently building a compact hyperimaging platform that can “see” across the many levels of the electromagnetic spectrum. The hope is that this technology, along with AI, will help humans see “beyond the domain of visible light” to reveal what would otherwise be unknown or hidden from plain sight.

This could assist drivers in hazardous traffic or weather conditions see more clearly, help self-driving cars operate more efficiently, or even confirm whether a bank check or pharmaceutical drug is real or fraudulent, the company speculates.

It predicts these devices to be portable and affordable for the everyday consumer, and even sees the opportunity to embed the technology in mobile phones to make it as least disruptive as possible.

Macroscopes will help us understand Earth’s complexity in infinite detail

With the emergence of connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), millions of exabytes of data are collected every year – however, much of it goes to waste. In fact, Berkeley reports that 80 per cent of a scientist’s time is spent scrubbing data instead of analyzing and understanding what was collected.

IBM hopes to change that using machine-learning software to organize the information. It has developed a “macroscope” to help bring together the vast amount of data gathered into something humans can comprehend and use to better various processes and activities.

“Unlike the microscope to see the very small, or the telescope that can see far away, [the macroscope] is a system of software and algorithms to bring all of Earth’s complex data together to analyze it for meaning,” the company says.

For example, farmers can use data on climate, soil conditions, water levels and their relationship to irrigation practices to make better crop choices and decisions on where to plant and how to conserve water. It tested the concept at a Californian winery in 2012 and saw success.

Beyond Earth, the technology could also be used to predict asteroid collisions and learn more about their composition.

Medical labs “on a chip” will serve as health detectives for tracing disease at the nanoscale

IBM predicts that within the next five years, nanotechnology will act as a first response medical team by “tracing invisible clues in our bodily fluids and letting us know immediately if we have reason to see a doctor.” It hopes to shrink down all the processes necessary in analyzing a disease – which would normally be carried out in a full-scale biochemistry lab – to a single silicon chip.

Company scientists are developing “lab-on-a-chip” technology “that can separate and isolate bioparticles down to 20 nanometers in diameter, a scale that gives access to DNA, viruses and exosomes.” This technology would potentially be able to reveal diseases before symptoms are even shown.

IBM hopes such technology could eventually be incorporated into a handheld device, as well as combined with IoT products, such as sleep monitors and smart watches, to be analyzed by AI systems for insight.

“When taken together, this data set will give us an in-depth view of our health and alert us to the first signs of trouble, helping to stop disease before it progresses,” the company reports.

Smart sensors will detect environmental pollution at the speed of light

To combat pollution and climate change, IBM is developing affordable sensing technologies that can be used by the energy industry to detect leaks around extraction wells, storage facilities and distribution pipelines in real time. For example, the company is working with natural gas producer Southwestern Energy to design an intelligence methane monitoring system as part of the ARPA-E Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR) program.

IBM’s research is focused on using silicon photonics, “an evolving technology that transfers data by light, allowing computing literally at the speed of light.” It says chips made with this technology could be embedded in a network of sensors on the ground, or within infrastructure, or even fly on autonomous drones.

In five years, IBM foresees networks of such IoT connected sensors that could alert the industry of leaks in a matter of minutes instead of days or weeks, which could drastically reduce waste and the likelihood of catastrophic events. Combined with real-time wind data, satellite data and other sources, such technology “can be used to build complex environmental models to detect the origin and quantity of pollutants as they occur.”

IBM and VMware announce new partnership to push hybrid cloud

Brian Jackson Brian Jackson Published: 02/23/2016
IBM VMware cloud partnership

LAS VEGAS — Users of VMware Inc.’s software-defined data centre stack will soon be able to push their workloads off-premises and onto IBM’s cloud network, comprised of 45 different data centres worldwide, the vendors announced on Monday.

VMware’s vSphere, NSX, and Virtual SAN will all now be supported to run on the bare metal servers on offer at IBM’s data centres. IBM says they will be automatically provisioned on-demand, so VMware shops won’t have to tinker with their infrastructure. At IBM’s InterConnect conference, Carl Eschenbach, president and chief operating officer at VMware, joined IBM’s senior vice-president of cloud Robert LeBlanc on stage to shake hands and unveil the partnership to the 25,000 attendees.

“This will enable our customers to deploy their virtual machines either on premises or off-premises, and sometimes both, with the same offering they have today,” Eschenbach said. “We want to help them deploy wherever, whenever they want it in a consistent way.”

VMware and IBM have had a reseller agreement in place until now, with today’s announcement being the first strategic partnership between the two technology firms. It marries together the infrastructure management capabilities of VMware’s products with IBM’s real estate to create a hybrid cloud infrastructure solution that should benefit both companies.

“We want to create a seamless hybrid cloud experience for our customers,” LeBlanc says. “This partnership is all about making the cloud easier to manage and scale.”

The only real question about the new partnership is why it didn’t happen sooner, says Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research. The need for VMware to have global access for its workloads has been apparent for some time. It has relied on working with telecommunication firms to provide data centres compatible with its stack, which meant customers had to negotiate different regional agreements to set up a global network. Now VMware can say it’s solved that logistical nightmare.

“It’s important because it’s the first time VMware can provide a global cloud for its loads,” he says. “So VMware becomes more of a software company, but once my load is on IBM’s servers, it’s a bit more of a lease on life for VMWare stuff.”

IBM also benefits by opening up a new market segment that can place load on its servers, Mueller adds. Being able to push workloads to an IBM data centre will be incentive for VMware users to stick with their current infrastructure for the time-being, especially since their legacy workloads are supported without need for an overhaul.

Deployment of VMware workloads to IBM’s datacentres is described as a painless process by the vendors. IBM will offer provisioning of a VMware image with its CloudBuilder tools and offer validation via VMware design patterns. VMware will enable its vRealize Automation and vCenter management tools to deploy and manage workloads on the IBM cloud, and users will be able to treat it the same way they would an on-premises load.

VMware has been working on enabling a hybrid cloud approach for its customers for years. In 2011, it announced a series of partnerships to support cloud workloads on an international scope. At VMWorld last year, it showcased its new capabilities to move legacy workloads to an off-premises location and maintain the same management capabilities as on-premises workloads.

IBM’s data centres originate from its acquisition of SoftLayer in 2013, a network its continued to build out since then, including new data centres in Canada.

When asked when the capabilities are available, Eschenbach says VMware’s workloads can be pushed out to IBM’s cloud right away.

LeBlanc says this is just the start of the partnership, and IBM and VMware will be working together more so in the future.


IBM partners with Bell to secure connections to its cloud

Gary Hilson Gary Hilson Published: 02/09/2016

There are more clouds gathering in Canada, and they are not harbingers of economic woes, but of IBM partnering with Bell to provide business customers across Canada with access to specialized cloud services on Bell’s Business Cloud.

Big Blue already has two data centres in Canada – one in Markham, Ontario and the other in Drummondville, Quebec. The new partnership with Canada’s largest telco will provide businesses with access to its cloud via a secure, high-speed connection and make it easier to adopt and built out hybrid environments, said Nevil Knupp, IBM Canada’s vice-president of cloud.

Data residency has led to growth of international cloud computing firms setting up data centres in Canada, but enterprises are also looking for a reliable and secure connection to the cloud that doesn’t rely on sending data over the public Internet, said Knupp. IBM’s partnership with Bell Business Cloud allows these customers to plug into the IBM Cloud and get direct access to a wide range of on-demand computing and storage options, including Bell Cloud Compute, a self-serve environment for managed virtual machines, as well as backup and restore capabilities for customer data and applications.

The partnership with Bell is part of IBM’s ongoing investment in data centres and cloud computing in Canada, said Knupp, which includes its cloud-focused developer environment embedded within Ryerson University’s DMZ incubator to help developers from both startups and enterprises build apps on its suite of cloud technologies – the first location in Canada.

IBM’s data centre in Markham has been up and running for about two years, and the Drummondville facility is about to celebrate its one-year anniversary, said Knupp. Having already addressed data residency, IBM is looking to further address customer security concerns by providing MPLS connectivity through Bell so they can process more data in the cloud. “Our customers are not moving everything into the cloud,” he said. “They are using the cloud to connect to the investments they have already made.”

Knupp said more and more public sector customers as well as those in heavily regulated industries are looking for cloud options.

Canada has been getting a lot of attention from U.S. cloud computing providers of late. Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle have all opened or announced data centres here over the past of year or so. The latter’s was driven in large part by the public sector looking to leverage SaaS in the cloud to provide efficient delivery of applications while at the same time assuaging concerns of the public over security and data compliance.

Last June, Microsoft announced it was building two data centres in Canada to support its customers cloud computing requirements and is spending more than US$10 billion a year on Azure data centres. CentriLogic set up a new data centre in the Greater Toronto Area in August to provide enterprise-grade services, while Rogers bolstered its has bolstered its presence in Atlantic Canada with the December acquisition of Internetworking Atlantic Inc. (IAI), including the company’s Halifax-based data centre.

IBM pushes open standards with cloud-based blockchain

Danny Bradbury Danny Bradbury Published: 05/09/2016

IBM Corp. was the latest company to put blockchain services on the cloud. The firm last week announced has released a version of the decentralized ledger technology for its cloud-based developer platform, Bluemix.

Whereas Microsoft has opted for Ethereum as the basis for its blockchain, IBM is using Hyperledger, a nascent project from the Linux Foundation that will also be able to run smart contracts.

Hyperledger is a collaborative project with partners ranging from around 30 companies, including startups and banks. It’s attempting to create an open standard for blockchain technology, in a similar model to Linux’s open standard for operating system development.

IBM donated blockchain code to the project. So did Blockstream, a firm that develops technologies to enhance bitcoin’s blockchain, and Digital Asset Holdings, a financial services blockchain company that is already running pilot projects in the commercial sector.

IBM has been advocating for an open approach to blockchain development since at least February, when its director of global blockhain offerings John Wolpert gave a keynote speech at the Block Chain Conference in San Francisco. It was there that he argued for a move beyond Ethereum and bitcoin.

“At present, each blockchain network that supports the concept of a smart contract has developed their own proprietary way of writing them,” Wolpert said more recently, adding: “We believe standards are important to accelerate the pace of adoption, by both customers and ISVs alike.”

Big Blue also made efforts to move Hyperledger beyond BlueMix by making its donated Hyperledger code available on DockerHub. It has also created a security solution to help lock down blockchain networks in an attempt to overcome security concerns about running them in the cloud.

The company has created what it calls an auditable operating environment for cloud-based blockchain networks, using tamper-resistant storage of the cryptographic keys that support many blockchain operations. The tamper-proofing reports any unauthorized attempts at physical access, and it also runs blockchain nodes in protected environments to stop any data leaks, which are a common worry in multi-tenant public cloud operations.

This is the latest in a line of blockchain-related developments for IBM. The company also opened a New York city-based BlueMix Garage in April, one of a series of centres designed to bring together experts in cloud and blockchain technology.

Hyperledger is still a relatively young project, and many aspects of it are still being hammered out. It has already taken pitches from Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, though, who reportedly hopes to integrate that technology with Hyperledger.

“As this is an open source initiative, interoperability and portability are important characteristics to be met,” said Kyle Donovan, a spokesperson for the Linux Foundation, adding that the group’s primary focus is creating a single code base.

“In parallel, we have kicked off a project to define the set of requirements and use cases that the community would expect to be able to support with the Hyperledger Project’s deliverable(s).”


security and privacy issues

Three Canadian universities to help teach IBM’s Watson about cyber security

Howard Solomon Howard Solomon Published: 05/10/2016

Three Canadian universities are among eight institutions that will be in a year-long research project to teach IBM’s Watson cognitive computing platform how to comb through unstructured data to improve cyber security.

Starting this fall the institutions — including the University of Ottawa, the University of Waterloo and the University of New Brunswick — will work with IBM to teach Watson the nuances of security research findings and how to discover patterns and evidence of hidden cyber attacks and threats.

In making the announcement on Tuesday, Caleb Barlow, vice-president of IBM Security, said in an interview the work won’t necessarily lead to a commercial Watson for Cyber Security product. For example, Watson will work with IBM’s free X-Force threat information exchange.

“The university program is an academic initiative. Each university decides how they’re going to implement it with their students — whether it will be part of course work, extra credit — and they’re going to get a front-row seat into how we build cognitive solutions in the security realm.”

IBM sells a number of services on the Watson platform including Watson for Oncology (helps cancer specialists evaluate patient data against clinical evidence), Explorer (analyzes structured and unstructured enterprise data), Discovery Advisor (helps organizations discover  relationships between disparate data they hold), and Engagement Advisor (an automated self-service solution that offers answers to customer questions).

The goal of Watson for Cyber Security will be to give infosec pros an extra hand by analyzing unstructured security-related data on the Internet that traditional security tools can’t process, including blogs, articles, videos, reports, alerts, and other information.

“This is an opportunity for our students, faculty and researchers to contribute significantly to the ever-evolving challenges in the cybersecurity industry,” Claude D’Amours, director of EECS in the University of Ottawa’s faculty of engineering, said in the IBM release. “Furthermore the training opportunities for our students through this collaboration are second to none which will help them differentiate when seeking employment.”

“We’ve been working hard with IBM for years on solutions to the growing threat of cybersecurity. This project with Watson has tremendous potential to be a game-changer,” Dr. Ali Ghorbani, dean of the University of New Brunswick’s faculty of computer science said in the IBM release.  “At the University of New Brunswick, we prize opportunities for our students to help companies and organizations find solutions to real-world problems. This work with Watson and IBM is yet another example of the kinds of transformative experiences our students can expect.”

“Waterloo is renowned for its unique system of education that equips students with real-world experiences as they pursue their academic careers, both through co-op work experiences as well as exposure to new research. We are delighted that IBM is giving Waterloo students a valuable opportunity to explore the state of the art at the intersection of machine learning and cybersecurity,” said professor Manoj Sachdev, chair of the University of Waterloo’s department of electrical and computer engineering.

Watson for Cyber Security won’t replace an organization’s security information and event management (SIEM) system, Barlow said, which processes structured data from the network. That’s machine-readable data, he pointed out, whereas blogs, academic articles and such are only in human-readable formats. Hopefully Watson can be trained to go through that kind of data and pick out the gems.

The problem is SIEMs and similar systems are overwhelmed with data, Barlow said. An average enterprise might see 200,000 events a day, he pointed out — and most are false positives. Watson for Cyber Security could work hand in hand with SIEMs, he said — and help with the shortage of cybersecurity pros.

But how much value is there in material like blogs which may include speculation, conjecture and guesses? “That’s part of what we’re going to find out,” Barlow said. “There’s a certain amount of noise, as you can imagine. But when we look at particularly the highly-technical blogs, when we look at new analyst analysis of malware, when we look at indicators of compromise, at disclosures of recent breaches and attacks, that’s a lot of actionable information because this is really about providing context to the situation.”

So just as IBM [NYSE:IBM] envision’s Watson helping doctors diagnose a patient, Watson for Cyber Security could help a member of an infosec team analyze an event, Barlow said. “Let’s face it, most of those threads Watson pulls on aren’t going to go anywhere. It’ll be ‘Oh well, looks like somebody forgot their password. Don’t worry about it,’ or ‘I can’t find anything more about this event. Let’s just watch it.'” But, he added, it could also discover that the event was written about in a recent blog, lists the evidence and makes recommendations.

Other institutions in the project are California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Pennsylvania State University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; New York University; and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

IBM offers hybrid cloud object storage service

Howard Solomon Howard Solomon Published: 10/14/2016

Vendors, researchers, entrepreneurs and academics around the world are finding new ways and reasons to collect and store data. Long for the days when deleting data to save hard drive space was imperative? Those days are long gone.

Aside from occasional deduplication, enterprises may be keeping every byte they create. The question is, even though the cost of storage continues to drop, is how can they store all they think they’ll need — particularly unstructured data such as videos and images?

In the cloud, says IBM. The company announced Cloud Object Storage on Thursday, a storage-as-a-service for massive amounts of data.

The solution comes from IBM’s acquisition last year of  Cleversafe a developer and manufacturer of object-based storage software and appliances, and technology IBM calls SecureSlice, which combines encryption and erasure coding to meet data regulatory requirements.

“As clients continue to move massive workloads to hybrid clouds there is a need for an easier, more secure and economical way to store and manage mounting volumes of digital information,” Robert LeBlanc, senior vice-president of IBM Cloud said in a statement. “With today’s announcement, IBM becomes the leading cloud vendor to provide clients the flexibility and availability of object data storage across on-premises and public clouds.”

While organizations want to use the cloud for improved efficiencies and IT agility, IBM notes that storing data on-premise does the opposite.

The new Cloud Object Storage service will enable clients for the first time to scale large unstructured data volumes across on-premises systems as well as public and private clouds quickly and easily, the company says, improving IT system flexibility and security. In a price comparison of identical object storage capacity running on a competitive cloud, the new Cloud Object Storage was more than 25 per cent lower in cost for the capacity, environment and locations compared, IBM says.

It will be available in Canada in December.

A first customer is the URL shortening service Bitly, which uses the service to quickly analyze 500 TB of historical data marketers are anxious for. It has moved 25 billion data-infused links to IBM Cloud

“With more than 400 million new links created every month, the Bitly platform is growing at an explosive rate,” company CTO Robert Platzer said in a statement. “Through this partnership IBM will help us transform our business and build a variety of new cloud services – from advanced analytics and data mining to data research – into our software platform. The new IBM Cloud Object Storage service will enable us to manage all the data from our on-premises and cloud infrastructure with ease and flexibility.”

For security IBM says that when data comes into the Cloud Object Storage system SecureSlice automatically encrypts each segment of data before it is erasure-coded and dispersed across the company’s global data centres. The content can only be re-assembled through IBM Cloud’s “Accesser” technology at the client’s primary data center, where the data was originally received, and decrypted by SecureSlice.  As a result, IBM says, the service can tolerate even catastrophic regional outages without interruption of access to data or the need for customer intervention.

Cloud Object Storage is offered in two public, multi-tenant services: Cross Region Service, which sends the sliced data to at least three geographically dispersed regions across IBM Cloud data centers; and Regional Service, which holds the data in multiple data centers in a given region.

The new services complement the existing IBM Cloud Object Storage System for on premises object storage, and the Cloud Object Storage Dedicated Service, a private cloud offering that runs on bare-metal servers. All of the IBM Cloud Object Storage services on or off-premises support Amazon S3 and OpenStack Swift interfaces for greater programming flexibility.

IBM Cloud Object Storage is available immediately in the U.S. and Europe, later this year in Canada. Availability via digital channels, with swipe-and-go credit card support, will begin in the U.S. starting in December.

IBM’s new Toronto-based innovation incubator targets emerging tech startups

Eric Emin Wood Eric Emin Wood Published: 09/22/2016

IBM, the 105 year-old computing giant known for its cloud computing services, Watson analytics platform, and a decision to sell its iconic personal computing division to Lenovo in 2005 – officially opened a startup incubator in the heart of downtown Toronto today.

The newly-launched IBM Innovation Space will be dedicated to helping tech startups take advantage of IBM’s wide range of technology, legal advice, and marketing expertise as they step into the global marketplace.

As IBM Canada president Dino Trevisani was quick to point out during the space’s Sept. 21 dedication, the company has not yet funded a similar space anywhere else in the world.

“This idea was born out of articles I read in the Globe and Mail when I got to Canada about how we’ve got a problem with creating companies that want to stay here,” he said. “The missing part was the private sector… We had to play a role.”

IBM Canada president Dino Trevisani was happy to emphasize the unique nature of the IBM Innovation Space during its Sept. 21 dedication in downtown Toronto.
IBM Canada president Dino Trevisani was happy to emphasize the unique nature of the IBM Innovation Space during its Sept. 21 dedication in downtown Toronto.

The space is the result of a partnership between IBM Corp., which invested $24.75 million into the incubator, and the Ontario government, which invested $22.75 million grant from its Jobs and Prosperity fund. Other partners include the Ontario Centres of Excellence; the Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) Research Consortium, a group that includes 15 colleges and universities including the University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, and Ryerson; and members of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE).

Though Trevisani expects other IBM divisions to launch similar initiatives in the future, he says Ontario was an ideal starting point because of the unique relationship between the province’s government, postsecondary institutions, and private sector.

A “selfish” act

IBM Canada senior innovation executive Allen Lalonde says that his company founding an incubator is ultimately a "selfish" act.
IBM Canada senior innovation executive Allen Lalonde says that his company founding an incubator is ultimately a “selfish” act.

The incubator’s roots can be traced back back to 2012, when IBM teamed up with the Ontario government, Ontario Centres of Excellence, and several of the province’s postsecondary institutions to create SOSCIP, an initiative that seeks to drive innovation in the province by removing barriers to conducting business.

“I’d love to tell you this was a new, wonderful idea, but the truth is it was an evolution,” Allen Lalonde, a senior executive of innovation at IBM Canada’s Research & Development Centre, tells ITBusiness.ca. “IBM has been in business for 105 years, and we’re a company built on innovation – we want to work with entrepreneurs, to learn from innovators in the marketplace, to accelerate our own research, to identify new markets, because big multinationals like IBM grow when new markets grow.”

“By working with the people who are changing the world and creating new markets, we’re establishing ourselves at the centre of whatever comes next,” he continues. “Selfishly, bridging the innovation gap is as much the smart thing to do as it is the right thing to do.”

As with SOSCIP, IBM is directing its incubator resources to “priority focus” areas such as health care, water, energy, infrastructure, and advanced computing – sectors where Canada has both a need and ideal opportunity to become a game-changing world leader.

And just as SOSCIP has been an enormous success – since its launch, Lalonde estimates that it’s helped create 50 projects and 40 companies, generated $2 billion in revenue, and will save Ontario $2 billion in healthcare costs – the company has high hopes for the incubator.

But the needs are different, Lalonde admits: Startups need a different type of support from government and academic projects. They require access to disruptive technology and must develop projects with an eye on commercialization opportunities, and it was discussing these circumstances with the Ontario government and the OCE that led to the incubator’s development, and ultimately today’s public launch.

Startup base already singing IBM’s praise

Tellingly, while the project was only publicly unveiled today, its initial startup base has been collaborating with IBM for nearly a year on a range of projects, from a support tool for veterinarians to a new two-step security software for businesses.

Orenda founder and CEO Tanya Collier MacDonald is thrilled to be working with IBM; she had been stalking the company since last year.
Orenda founder and CEO Tanya Collier MacDonald is thrilled to be working with IBM, having been “stalking” the company since last year.

Orenda Solutions founder and CEO Tanya Collier MacDonald says she began stalking IBM last year, flying from her native Nova Scotia to the Canadian arm’s Markham, Ont. head office to pitch her idea for a Watson-powered intelligent software solution that tracks a company’s reputation by analyzing online discussions about its activities.

“Watson is known as a leader in the field of cognitive thinking and artificial intelligence, and we wanted to align ourselves with a giant,” she says. “Fortunately, they pulled us into their innovation space and introduced us to the Watson ecosystem right away.”

Big Terminal director of business development and operations Nick Dyment says that access to IBM's cloud tools has been especially helpful for his company.
Big Terminal director of business development and operations Nick Dyment says that access to IBM’s cloud tools has been especially helpful for his company.

Nick Dyment, the director of business development and operations for Toronto-based Big Terminal, which is developing a Watson-powered search engine for the financial services industry, says that having access to IBM’s cloud services has been a particularly welcome boon for his company.

“Because we’re working with so much big data, if we had tried to buy the computers we’re using we would have been bankrupt in the first month,” says Dyment, whose platform analyzes global financial data and presents it in a simple, user-defined way. “Being able to use IBM Cloud has helped us scale as we grow while keeping our costs low, which is really great.”

Equally useful is the networking opportunities, McDonald and Dyment both note.

“IBM has a lot of financial clients across the spectrum, and these guys have been super supportive by getting us introductions to people, leading us to different businesses, helping figure out where gaps are in the market,” he says. “These people are great.”

IBM deepens Apple partnership by driving Swift in the enterprise

Brian Jackson Brian Jackson Published: 02/24/2016
Brian Croll, Apple at IBM InterConnect

LAS VEGAS — IBM released new tools for developers coding server-side Swift this week, making a point to showcase its partnership with Apple Inc. at its InterConnect conference.

Underlining its commitment to Swift and its endorsement of the language as a key tool for enterprises to build out mobile apps, IBM is also the largest developer of Swift, producing more than 100 mobile apps in the language. It’s offering to help enterprises dabbling in using Swift to produce in-house apps.

“We look at this as a way to accelerate adoption of mobile and cloud,” says Robert LeBlanc, senior vice-president of IBM Cloud. “It makes sense to allow the programmer to program on both the front end and the back end out in the cloud.”

LeBlanc invited Brian Croll,vice-president of product marketing at Apple, up on stage during the opening keynote at InterConnect. Croll highlighted the popularity of Swift, saying it has been adopted faster than any other programming language.

“We’re excited by the deep involvement of IBM in the Swift project int he open source community,” Croll said. “IBM is helping to make Swift great on servers.”

Apple first introduced Swift in 2014, an abstracted programming language that gave developers another option to develop native apps for its iOS platform besides coding in C or C++. In December, Apple announced it was releasing Swift to the open source community and along with it, Swift for Linux, allowing it to be used on the server side. IBM supported the move by releasing a Swift Sandbox that would allow developers to experiment in working with server-side Swift.

Now IBM has some new tools for developers that are using their sandbox. Big Blue is driving Swift in the enterprise in several ways, explains Michael Gilfix, vice-president of IBM MobileFirst Offering Management:

  • The Swift Sandbox now has a social sharing feature so developers can share snippets of code with others easily.
  • Developers can now run Swift code as a service on IBM’s Bluemix platform by using Kitura, a new open source runtime that enables REST calls.
  • Also new to Bluemix is OpenWhisk, a platform the allows for automatic code execution in response to events – such as a mouse click – and run it as a micro service. Developers can code in Swift and package it in a Docker container on this platform.
  • Swift packages can now be shared on Bluemix via the Swift Package Catalogue.

IBM’s Swift Package Catalogue on the Blue mix platform has already seen 120 different modules contributed to it, Gilfix says. Developing more will help Swift become a more useable tool for developers in the enterprise.

“We have a great programming language and a great compiler, but we don’t have all the libraries yet,” he says. “This is the first step. This is enabling the community to move beyond snippets of code to real applications.”

Asked if Swift could ever be seen running on a non-Apple client, Gilfix responds that the language was only made open source two months ago. But the uptake by the developer community has been beyond expectations.


ArticlePageviewsAvg. Time Spent
IBM and VMware announce new partnership to push hybrid cloud21,2391:40
IBM predicts superhero vision, nano-sized health devices in next five years5,1612:49
Three Canadian universities to help teach IBM’s Watson about cyber security1,4242:03
IBM pushes open standards with cloud-based blockchain1,4011:48
IBM deepens Apple partnership by driving Swift in the enterprise1,3781:54
IBM’s new Toronto-based innovation incubator targets emerging tech startups1,2731:33
IBM partners with Bell to secure connections to its cloud1,2382:07
IBM offers hybrid cloud object storage service1,2261:48

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