Driving transformation in 2021 all in on hybrid cloud


I reflect on the year that has tested each and every one of us in countless ways. If I had to pick one thing that sticks out for IBM Z this year, it is the agility and cyber resilience that these systems brought in a time where IT was pushed to its limits as consumption soared in a remote world. Through these challenges, we saw clients and partners pushing IBM Z harder and looking for new paths to innovate and in particular, for many in the financial services space, there was an accelerated path leading them to cloud adoption.




It may seem like a lifetime ago, but it was just this July when IBM announced Bank of America and BNP Paribas were advancing the IBM Cloud for Financial Services. Since then, we’ve seen more than 30 new technology providers adopt this industry-specific cloud – and I don’t see the shift to hybrid cloud slowing down anytime soon. So, how can banks, large and small, make this valuable leap to a hybrid cloud strategy? They do it by basing their strategy on three “rules of thumb”: focus on the value of your core data and workloads, never compromise on security and privacy, and don’t be afraid to expand to new cloud use cases. Let’s take a closer look at these principles for adoption and where IBM Z is headed next for financial services and beyond.

Focus on the value of your core data and workloads

Nothing is more valuable than your data and the applications driving your business, so the path to success should not be a surprise – embrace and enhance your core. IBM Z is that core for many banks and it is a platform that has continuously evolved and delivered value in a world of constant technology shifts and disruptions. Just as IBM Z perennially evolves and integrates with the latest industry trends and tech, so must the applications that run on Z. One crucial application characteristic in the hybrid cloud stands out to me – application portability. Application portability allows banks to deliver value for their business and end-users on demand. This could mean rapidly embracing a new opportunity across the globe or reacting to an unforeseen spike in services required. No matter the situation, the applications and core system integrations into the hybrid cloud must be ready to instantly address those needs. I believe those needs are best met through the combination of IBM Z and Red Hat OpenShift. This year we brought Red Hat OpenShift to IBM Z and LinuxONE, unlocking enormous potential for clients moving to hybrid cloud. To date, we’ve seen many of IBM's top IBM Z clients running pilots with Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Z as they prepare to move into production. And we have hundreds of clients ready to start moving in 2021.

And it is not just pilots; IBM Z and OpenShift are solving real problems for users together. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we partnered with one of the world’s largest financial institutions in Latin America, who is using z15, IBM Cloud and Red Hat OpenShift. To help address an immediate need to bring relief to citizens during the pandemic, this institution was able to stand up a digital banking platform and mobile app in less than 30 days to facilitate access to social services and various banking transactions for millions of customers.

Never compromise on security and privacy

Security and privacy by design must be mandatory in a hybrid cloud strategy – which means the systems you trust with your most important data in the cloud must be up to the challenge.

2020 marked an exciting year for the company in the security space by helping our clients take advantage of emerging trends and technologies like confidential computing and advanced encryption technologies.

Confidential computing has emerged as an exciting new topic – something IBM Z has been working on for more than 10 years. Today, we’re working with clients like Daimler, Apple, and companies including ISVs, and SaaS vendors in fast moving markets like digital asset custody and other financial areas to keep their enterprise-class data protected.

We also announced new capabilities around homomorphic encryption. While researchers have been studying this technique for several years, we have not had enough computing power to make this technology viable for business use until now.

Today, we have homomorphic encryption toolkits available for clients to download from GitHub for Linux, but this isn’t just for play. Banco Bradesco, S.A., a prominent Brazilian financial institution, has been working closely with IBM to apply homomorphic encryption to banking data. As part of a recent pilot, the bank found it was possible to apply machine learning algorithms to encrypted data without decrypting it, creating a new level of privacy that could be applied to other industries.

In 2021, we predict security technologies such as confidential computing, quantum-safe and homomorphic encryption will make enable even the most regulated industries to move to hybrid cloud.

Don’t be afraid to expand to new cloud use cases

There is a phrase that sticks out in my mind here – stagnation is the enemy of progress. Sometimes stagnation is caused by fear of change and sometimes stagnation is a result of playing it safe. No matter the cause, the results can be devastating for any business.

How do you combat this pitfall? You do so by not being afraid to embrace the innovation that cloud technologies will bring to your business. Next year, I expect a growing number of use cases to help drive cloud adoption for banks and each of these should be seen as an opportunity for growth that should not be missed.

To give you one example, earlier this month we announced that Eurobank continues its digital transformation journey to enhance customer experience by using the IBM Z Development & Test Environment in IBM Cloud to create and test core applications. This collaboration is the cornerstone for the adoption of innovative DevOps technologies and a hybrid cloud environment by the bank, aiming to further automate and accelerate core application development processes, immediate and rapid response to needs and drive development of the bank’s digital transformation.

Well … it has been a difficult year for all of us, personally and professionally, but this year has also unlocked a renewed focus on the core of what makes today’s businesses tick: transformation.

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