IBM and MuleSoft partner to help accelerate flexibility across public and private clouds

IBM and MuleSoft have announced a global relationship. MuleSoft plans to extend its Anypoint Runtime Fabric, a container service for multi-cloud and hybrid deployments, to run on Red Hat OpenShift, the industry’s enterprise Kubernetes platform.

IBM and MuleSoft plan to deliver increased integrations and solutions around the IBM Z product family to support financial services and other mutual customers. In addition, IBM plans to significantly expand its overall investment in integration software and industry expertise, including increasing the number of MuleSoft-certified professionals in its consulting services organization.

According to the latest State of Salesforce report from IBM and Oxford Economics, nearly 30% of innovation activities and ecosystem, workforce, and customer engagement will be virtualized by 2023.

The shift to digital-first customer and employee experiences has created more data from more systems than ever before – and delivering these connected digital experiences will require seamless integration of data, potentially across multiple siloed systems.

Empowering companies to deliver seamless digital experiences, faster

IBM and MuleSoft plan to make it easier to securely connect, compose, and automate business processes and modernize applications at scale:

In collaboration with Red Hat, MuleSoft will extend Anypoint Runtime Fabric to Red Hat OpenShift as a certified OpenShift application, unlocking increased flexibility for companies to deploy APIs, integrations, and automations across public and private clouds.

Today, 85 of the world’s top 100 banks run on IBM Z. MuleSoft supports IBM Z Digital Integration Hub, making it easier for joint financial services customers to integrate core business applications and share real-time, industry relevant information with MuleSoft.

IBM Z Digital Integration Hub creates flexible, efficient real-time information flow multiple systems of record on z/OS and cloud environments while also optimizing costs.

MuleSoft complements IBM Z Digital Integration Hub by allowing customers to securely share current information stored in the Z Digital Integration Hub via reusable APIs and easily integrate it to external applications with clicks, not code. To provide even more options for clients, MuleSoft also provides a CICS connector via the IBM CICS Transaction Gateway.

Together, IBM and MuleSoft plan to accelerate integration with core systems and faster development of hybrid cloud applications, as well as support for governance, risk and compliance requirements.

As a part of the IBM Z and Cloud ModernizationCenter, a digital front door to a vast array of tools, training, resources and ecosystem partners, MuleSoft will help joint customers accelerate the modernization of their applications, data and processes in an open hybrid cloud architecture.

As part of the commitment to its longstanding Salesforce practice, IBM Consulting is also significantly increasing the number of MuleSoft-certified professionals to support intelligent workflows, automation, and industry-focused use cases that accelerate digital transformation. IBM Consulting, a global Salesforce partner, harnesses the industry expertise of certified Salesforce and MuleSoft practitioners to help companies deliver key business outcomes and scale innovation faster.

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[Column] Caroline Mukiira: Hybrid Cloud: The catalyst for increased financial inclusion in Africa

Africa has made huge strides over the past decades towards the financial inclusion. The digitization and simplification of money management has especially proved to be a sturdy vehicle in making headway in this regard.  

Yet, more work needs to be done as only 34 percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa have a bank account and 350 million people are still unbanked. In Kenya, financial inclusion as of August 2020 stands at 82.9%, an improvement from 26.7% in a decade, while the commercial banking industry is the fourth largest in Sub-Saharan Africa but there’s still room for growth.  

Technology has been at the heart of financial inclusion in Africa and today we’re seeing how technology trends are evolving much faster than imagined. The pandemic has accelerated the pace, and we have seen digital transformation initiatives within the sector compressed from years to months.  

Building the right platform 

With the evolution of technology, banks are pivoting their platforms towards open ecosystems and the secure sharing of data with third-party applications from fintechs and online financial service vendors to increase access to banking services to the masses. The 2021 IBM CEO Study – that drew on input from 3,000 CEOs across 26 industries and nearly 50 countries – has found that such ‘platformification’ of banks is here to stay. 

Home to over 150 fintech companies, Kenya has one of the biggest and most developed fintech ecosystems in the African continent, owning to the proliferation of mobile phones and the rise of mobile money alongside technologies such as hybrid cloud and AI to name a few.  

Innovation through a secure cloud 

In highly regulated industries like the financial services sector, increasing financial inclusion for the unbanked is a juggling act between security and compliance together with innovation, and hybrid cloud is the answer to the conundrum.  

Hybrid cloud can help banks and fintechs cope with the hurdles of compliance, security, and innovation while meeting customer expectations and venturing into new services. As banks become platform providers, hybrid cloud adoption lowers the total cost of technology ownership and improves operational efficiency – promoting innovation, aiding in the development of new business models and supporting more fulfilling customer engagements.  

While the cloud offers clear advantages to banks and most are actively using cloud services, few have actually moved mission-critical regulated workloads to the cloud to date. In many cases, this has been due to concerns about whether cloud environments complied with stringent security and regulatory requirements.  

Meeting industry requirements 

If banks are going to guard against fraud and criminal activity while delivering on their promises to digitally sophisticated customers, they have to build their platforms on technology solutions designed to meet regulations of the financial service industry. 

In response to this, IBM launched Cloud for Financial Services – a financial sector specific cloud offering – which features built-in security, regulatory and compliance controls that help minimize risks for banks integrating with third party independent service vendors (ISVs), fintechs and software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers.    

IBM has also been investing in confidential computing research and technologies for over a decade, and the solutions provide greater assurance that data is protected and visible only to its owner and no one else. This means banks can now be as compliant on the cloud as they are within their own data centers, and they can demonstrate compliance on a continuous basis. 

As we continue in the journey to financially include more of our people across the African continent, the future of banking across Africa is dynamic and exciting.  

With the right technology partner such as IBM and being cloud-ready, financial services institutions can build a strong ecosystem of partners – be it fintechs, startups – to offer an array of services at a quick pace and lower cost to entice the unbanked to the digital economy. 

Caroline Mukiira is the General Manager, IBM East Africa

IBM Hybrid Cloud Services Now Generally Available in Any Environment

IBM has announced that its hybrid cloud services are now generally available in any environment — on any cloud, on premises or at the edge — via IBM Cloud Satellite. Lumen Technologies and IBM have integrated IBM Cloud Satellite with the Lumen edge platform to enable clients to harness hybrid cloud services in near real-time and build innovative solutions at the edge.  

IBM Cloud Satellite brings a secured, unifying layer of cloud services for clients across environments, regardless of where their data resides. This is essential to help address critical data privacy and data sovereignty requirements. Industries including telecommunications, financial services, healthcare and government can now benefit from reduced latency that comes with analyzing data securely at the edge. Workloads related to online learning, remote work, telehealth services and more can now be delivered with increased efficiency and security with IBM Cloud Satellite. As workloads shift to the edge, IBM Cloud Satellite will help clients deliver low latency, while still enabling them to have the same levels of security, data privacy, interoperability and open standards found in hybrid cloud environments. 

IBM is also extending Watson Anywhere with the availability of IBM Cloud Pak for Data as a Service with IBM Cloud Satellite. This gives clients a flexible, secure way to run their AI and analytics workloads as services across any environment – without having to manage them on their own. EquBot, a fintech firm helping global investment professionals, is already seeing early benefits. The work has shown reduced latency from ten seconds to under one second on some of the time critical models. This allows investors to make better-informed decisions across financial markets. 

Lumen, an enterprise technology company enabling the 4th Industrial Revolution, is using its global Edge Compute platform to deliver IBM Cloud Satellite to customers. By combining the deployment flexibility of IBM Cloud Satellite with the Lumen edge platform’s broad availability, adaptive networking and connected security capabilities, Lumen customers gain choice and speed in how they securely tap into the benefits of edge computing services. 

Customers using the Lumen platform and IBM Cloud Satellite can deploy data-intensive applications like video analytics across highly distributed environments such as offices and retail spaces and take advantage of infrastructure designed for single digit millisecond latency. Because the application can be hosted on Red Hat OpenShift via IBM Cloud Satellite from the close proximity of a Lumen edge location, cameras and sensors can function in near real-time to help improve quality and safety. For example, cameras can detect the last time surfaces were cleaned or flag potential worker safety concerns. Additionally, customers across geographies can better address data sovereignty by deploying this processing power closer to where the data is created. 

“With the Lumen platform’s broad reach, we are giving our enterprise customers access to IBM Cloud Satellite to help them drive innovation more rapidly at the edge,” said Paul Savill, SVP Enterprise Product Management and Services at Lumen. “Our enterprise customers can now extend IBM Cloud services across Lumen’s robust global network, enabling them to deploy data-heavy edge applications that demand high security and ultra-low latency. By bringing secure and open hybrid cloud capabilities to the edge, our customers can propel their businesses forward and take advantage of the emerging applications of the 4th Industrial Revolution.” 

As part of this collaboration, customers will be able to Deploy applications across more than 180,000 connected enterprise locations on the Lumen network to provide a low latency experience. They will also create cloud-enabled solutions at the edge that leverage application management and orchestration via IBM Cloud Satellite  Customers will also be able to build open, interoperable platforms that give customers greater deployment flexibility and more seamless access to cloud native services like AI, IoT and edge computing 

“IBM is working with clients to leverage advanced technologies like edge computing and AI, enabling them to digitally transform with hybrid cloud while keeping data security at the forefront,” said Howard Boville, Head of IBM Hybrid Cloud Platform. “With IBM Cloud Satellite, clients can securely gain the benefits of cloud services anywhere, from the core of the data center to the farthest reaches of the network.” 

IBM is collaborating with more than 65 ecosystem partners, including Cisco, Dell Technologies and Intel to build secure cloud services helping clients run workloads in any environment via IBM Cloud Satellite. Infrastructure partners offer a choice of storage, networking and server solutions to help clients leverage their existing infrastructures to deploy IBM Cloud Satellite locations at data centers or the edge.

Service partners plan to offer migration and deployment services to help clients manage solutions as-a-service anywhere. IBM Cloud Satellite clients can also access Red Hat OpenShift-certified software offerings on Red Hat Marketplace, which can be deployed to run on Red Hat OpenShift via IBM Cloud Satellite, offering flexibility to install and manage with greater simplicity. 

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IBM Expands its AI and Cloud Technology for Agriculture to Africa and other global markets

For the first time, IBM says it is providing a global agriculture solution that combines predictive technology with data from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and IoT data to help give farmers around the world greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

IBM has announced that it is expanding its Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, with AI and cloud technology tailored for new crops to Africa and other markets around the world. For the first time, IBM says it is providing a global agriculture solution that combines predictive technology with data from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and IoT data to help give farmers around the world greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

By 2050, the world will need to feed two billion more people without an increase of arable land. IBM is combining power weather data – including historical, current and forecast data and weather prediction models from The Weather Company – with crop models to help improve yield forecast accuracy, generate value, and increase both farm production and profitability.

New crop models include corn, wheat, soy, cotton, sorghum, barley, sugar cane and potato, with more coming soon. These models will now be available in new markets across Africa, Europe, and Australia. It will also be available in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.

“These days farmers don’t just farm food, they also cultivate data – from drones flying over fields to smart irrigation systems, and IoT sensors affixed to combines, seeders, sprayers and other equipment,” said Kristen Lauria, general manager of Watson Media and Weather Solutions, IBM. “Most of the time, this data is left on the vine — never analyzed or used to derive insights. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture aims to change that by offering tools and solutions to help growers make more informed decisions about their crops.”

The average farm generates an estimated 500,000 data points per day, which will grow to 4 million data points by 2036. Applying AI and analysis to aggregated field, machine and environmental data can help improve shared insights between growers and enterprises across the agriculture ecosystem. With a better view of the fields, growers can see what’s working on certain farms and share best practices with other farmers.

The platform assesses data in an electronic field record to identify and communicate crop management patterns and insights. Enterprise businesses such as food companies, grain processors, or produce distributors can then work with farmers to leverage those insights. It helps track crop yield as well as the environmental, weather and plant biologic conditions that go into a good or bad yield, such as irrigation management, pest and disease risk analysis and cohort analysis for comparing similar subsets of fields.

The result isn’t just more productive farmers. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture could help a livestock company eliminate a certain mold or fungus from feed supply grains or help identify the best crop irrigation practices for farmers to use in drought-stricken areas like California. It could help deliver the perfect French fry for a fast food chain that needs longer – not fatter – potatoes from its network of growers. Or it could help a beer distributor produce a more affordable premium beer by growing higher quality barley that meets the standard required to become malting barley.

Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is built on IBM PAIRS Geoscope from IBM Research, which quickly processes massive, complex geospatial and time-based datasets collected by satellites, drones, aerialflights, millions of IoT sensors and weather models. It crunches large, complex data and creates insights quickly and easily so farmers and food companies can focus on growing crops for global communities.

IBM and The Weather Company help the agriculture industry find value in weather insights. IBM Research collaborates with startup Hello Tractor to integrate The Weather Companydata, remote sensing data (e.g., satellite), and IoT data from tractors. IBM also works with crop nutrition leader Yara to include hyperlocal weather forecasts in its digital platform for real-time recommendations, tailored to specific fields or crops.

IBM acquired The Weather Company in 2016 and has since been helping clients better understand and mitigate the cost of weather on their businesses. The global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is the latest innovation in IBM’s efforts to make weather a more predictable business consideration. Also just announced, Weather Signals is a new AI-based tool that merges The Weather Company data with a company’s own operations data to reveal how minor fluctuations in weather affects business.

The combination of rich weather forecast data from The Weather Company and IBM’s AI and Cloud technologies is designed to provide a unique capability, which is being leveraged by agriculture, energy and utility companies, airlines, retailers and many others to make informed business decisions.

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