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What’s New with IBM Cloud – The Six Five Insiders
by Daniel Newman | September 20, 2022

On this episode of The Six Five – Insider Edition hosts Daniel Newman and Patrick Moorhead sit down with Alan Peacock, General Manager, Delivery & Operations, IBM Cloud at IBM to take a deep dive into IBM Cloud.

The conversation covered the following:

  • How IBM prioritizes security and reliability in the IBM Cloud
  • An overview of new features and capabilities
  • A look into the pressures clients face when moving to the cloud

To learn more about IBM Cloud, check out their website.

Watch our interview with Alan here:

Listen to the episode on your favorite streaming platform:

Disclaimer: The Six Five Webcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this webcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.

Transcript:

Daniel Newman: Hi everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Six Five podcast. I’m Daniel Newman, your host today joined by my always esteemed cohost, Mr. Patrick Moorhead. And we’re back for an insider edition. Morning, Patrick.

Patrick Moorhead: Good morning. Yeah, I love insider additions. And you know what I love better than insider editions? I love talking about cloud, and today we’re going to drill down on cloud, talk about security, but a lot about reliability in the cloud, Daniel, and we might even have a special guest.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I think that’s the theme of our insider editions. We bring in super smart and thoughtful people to come on the show, executives from some of the most exciting and prestigious companies on the planet to learn more about their businesses. And of course, for you and I to grill them, just kidding. But to of course, ask the tough questions that all the people out there want to know and they want to hear our analysis and the expertise of these vendor clients. Today, we have Alan Peacock joining us from IBM. So Pat, without further ado, why don’t we have Alan join the show?

Patrick Moorhead: Alan, how you doing?

Alan Peacock: Hey, I’m great, thank you. Great to be here. It’s a pleasure to be with you.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, really appreciate you coming on the show. So Alan, we’ve met before, okay, maybe in the green room we met, but we met a lot of IBMers. But more importantly, we think folks need to know more about you. We know that your official title on LinkedIn is GM of delivery and operations of Cloud at IBM. But what does that mean and what do you do? And you’re a relatively newcomer to IBM, aren’t you?

Alan Peacock: That’s right. Yeah. So look, hey, I joined IBM around 14 months ago. Prior to that I had a long career, 30 years plus, in the banking and financial services industry. And I had various CTO and CIO roles over the years in a number of global banking operations.

Why did I join IBM? I saw IBM Cloud really taking a different stance in terms of the cloud that we are building with IBM that was really focused on the industry that I’d worked in all of my life. And I could see the differentiation that IBM were providing in our cloud proposition, which really resonated with me and I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to be part of that journey.

Daniel Newman: It’s a really exciting space to be in right now, Alan. The cloud is certainly going to continue to proliferate and become a bigger and bigger part of every business and industry. We’re going to talk more about the background and your time in financial services here in just a little bit. And of course, that was an industry that has seen massive transformation and IBM is, of course, deeply entrenched in the banking industry from its legacy technologies to its newest innovations and, of course, connecting all that to the cloud. So we’re going to hit you on that.

But one of the things that was really interesting to me is kind of some differentiation. As I’ve been assessing the IBM cloud, one of the things that we’ve noticed is that it’s really leaning into two things, security and reliability. Of course, these aren’t the only things that IBM is leaning into, but these have been headlines and a way that I think the company’s really trying to differentiate itself. Talk a little bit about that and how IBM is prioritizing both security and reliability as it’s building its offerings.

Alan Peacock: Yeah, love to. Look, our mission is really to be the most secure, most stable and the most resilient cloud on the planet. And we take that very seriously. Our top priority every day of every week of every month is security. Security of our own data and our clients’ data and the resilience of our platform to make sure that we deliver outstanding service to tens of thousands of clients. We really think that’s the most important thing we do as all of those clients run their business on our platform and therefore we are a vital part of their business.

But alongside that, we’ve also been launching a number of new products focused on security and resiliency. We’ve launched confidential computing, our Wazi service, which is our new z/OS development as a service platform. We’ve expanded our server list options. We have continued to expand our satellite distributed compute option and also our data leak capabilities, just to name a few. But we continue to expand our feature capabilities. We continue to deliver on our resilience promises and as I say, security and resilience have top priorities as an organization.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, it’s funny, one thing that’s been paramount in my research of IBM and I spent a lot of time on Z and a lot of time on Power. And it’s funny, once you get to know some of these clients, one client I know was complaining he had to reboot his system once every five years. And I think we’re talking cloud now, but I just thought these are the type of folks and the types of areas that you’re working with and their expectations are, quite frankly, a lot higher than other industries.

We joked in the green room, you had a real job before. You have extensive background in the financial services industry. We can’t mention the company you used to work for, I guess, but you were CIO and CTO role in a number of global banks. Obviously, you had to execute extensive IT rollouts, but, let me put you on the spot here. How’s the pressure? Is it different? Is it unique in a regulated industry when moving workloads to the cloud?

Alan Peacock: Yeah, it is a little bit different. Yeah. The bar is very high and it is continually rising in regulated industries and banking especially. But not just banking other industries as well. The expectations of customers and the regulators is increasing without question. That brings a lot of intensity and challenge into those roles. And we understand that with IBM and we’ve been very focused on recruiting a team of people who understand our client’s environments and have sat in the shoes of our clients. And we think that’s a real unique differentiator for IBM. Of course, we have a heritage within IBM of multiple decades of supporting the most important organizations in the world. And I know in my former role as a client, IBM was without question, my most trusted organization. If the chips were down and I needed a tech organization beside me, then IBM was always there beside me and I knew I could trust them. They had the best support model in the world, bar none. And again, that was another reason for me joining the company because that set of values and that trust element for clients really resonated with me.

But coming back to the challenges that a CIO or CTO in a financial services organization meets, they are forever being asked to deliver more for less, to become more efficient, to meet ever increasing regulations. And a large proportion of their budget goes to investing in continually keeping up with those regulations. And one of the things that really differentiates IBM Cloud is we are taking a step above the mass market clouds and we are creating a product differentiation where we are helping to de-risk and helping to reduce the amount of labor and effort required to meet the compliance and control security requirements of a regulated industry such as banking. So some of our product differentiation, like our security compliance center product, is actually providing automated capabilities, codified capabilities, that really help organizations migrate to the cloud in a much safer way. And therefore helping organizations in regulated industries like banks migrate much more safely.

We’re also very focused on helping some of the third party software vendors certify their products on our platform, which again, allows much faster consumption and much safer consumption of those products on our IBM Cloud platform. So one or two real differentiators versus your normal cloud platform.

Daniel Newman: Alan, that was almost getting to the entire crux of what you could say, that you could have kept going because we’ve assessed this, Pat and I, we’ve spent some time on this. And actually what you built, what the IBM Cloud has built in the financial services is a huge differentiator. And that’s been really interesting for us to assess because IBM, its overall approach has been very partner led over the last several months and years. The company’s been focused on making strategic announcements, working with other public clouds, but the advancements of the IBM public cloud are actually very impressive and I’m glad that you were pointing those out, especially in that regulated industry space, especially in financial services. I’ve been very impressed watching that and I think that’s something that more people need to hear about more often. So hopefully in your new role, this is going to be something you’re going to be out evangelizing.

We’re talking about it over here because the challenges in that industry are very real. I mean that’s the thing is, and they are very unique and you were in the seat, so having someone like yourself that can go in and talk to these leaders in the businesses and explain, one, just your story about why you’re here, very compelling. Two, what you’ve been through. And that kind of leads me to that next question. You started to allude to this in your answer, you used the word, the challenges of what organizations are facing today. But I want you to talk about that a little bit more broadly.

You mentioned the challenges, but what are you seeing in terms of how these CIOs, the leaders and, of course, their teams are actually able to mitigate in harder environments to make them truly more resilient to stand up to all the needs, compliance, security, reliability, et cetera?

Alan Peacock: Yeah, well look, it’s a lot of work. When you sit in that seat, it’s a lot of hard work, a lot of investments to essentially create a robust set of compliance controls that allow you to evidence to auditors and regulators that you are complying with the control requirements that you have as an organization in a regulated industry. It’s a huge investment. And as you go on a cloud journey, obviously, historically, organizations have developed a lot of these controls on-premise because they’ve had to over the years. As you move to a cloud migration it’s different. Therefore you need to recreate a lot of those controls and invest on uplifting the control environment to bolster the kind of standard vanilla cloud that you get from a lot of cloud providers.

Therefore, coming back to my point earlier, I think IBM’s real focus is being on how do we de-risk that? How do we make the job of a CIO and CTO in an organization in a regulated industry, like banking, how do we make it easier for them to take that step into the cloud and accelerate their migration, de-risk that migration by providing that additional capability that is unique to IBM? And we really believe that we’re helping our clients on that journey and making it safer on what is a very big investment of their time to create those controls.

And if you go into multiple clouds, then those controls have to be developed uniquely and bespokely for every single cloud provider. Our security and compliance center, as an example, will work on every cloud platform, including IBM. Obviously, it’s a much deeper capability on our IBM platform and we believe that is unique. But to summarize that, we really believe that we’re helping CTOs and CIOs take that journey more safely and faster.

Patrick Moorhead: So Alan, I spent a decade on the board of a company in a very highly regulated industry, and I always kept thinking to myself, how do all these folks get their jobs done? Not only do you have regulations inside of a country, but if you have states or if you have provinces, you also have to abide by those. And the compliance center, which listen, I like to think of it as push button compliance, but I know it’s a lot more difficult than that. But I also know it makes it a lot easier for clients in the financial industry to be able to more quickly answer the questions from the regulators who might literally ask you, “Do you know where every byte of information, is it encrypted in these three different ways? And anything other than a, “Yes, and here’s the proof,” you’re going to go off and you’re going to be doing a bunch of work. So hats off to everybody in this industry.

So let’s talk a little bit about service disruptions. Listen, every CSP in the industry has had disruptions and it’s amazing, a lot of them have do with networking, which is just wild. But then again, if you know the lack of automation inside of networking, you kind of get it. And IBM has had some outages too. So in the event of an unlikely disruption, how does IBM, how do you perform the due diligence? What’s the playbook?

Alan Peacock: Yeah, sure. Well, look, first of all, we are building for resilience. We make enormous investments to make sure that we have building redundancy, that we have built resilience into our platform and therefore it is a very unusual event that something that does go wrong with our platform. However, we have seen some incidents, a lot fewer than I think historically, and I’ll quote some statistics shortly. And a lot of the other cloud providers have seen incidents as well. But we believe we are differentiating ourselves on, as I say, being the most secure, most stable, most resilient platform in the cloud world.

When we do have an incident in that unusual occasion, we have very rigorous processes. So we mobilize very rapidly, get our best engineers onto the problem. There are well documented incident and recovery management processes, and we will recover the service as quickly as humanly possible when it does occur. I think another thing we have really enhanced is our communications as well. So when these incidents are happening, we will publish on our service data site, we will focus on making sure our critical clients are kept up to date so that they understand how to manage their businesses. So a lot of rigor, a lot of process in that place. And over the last 18 months to two years, we have seen a huge improvement in our service proposition. So to give you just some statistics, we have reduced our severity one incidents by 91% in the last of 12 to 15 months. Through that rigor of process, we drive root cause analysis, we make sure that when we do have an issue, it never happens again and we learn from that process. So bringing a lot of rigorous service management processes that I knew and love from my old roles, and those are the processes that our critical clients need us to manage our scale platform across the world.

Daniel Newman: And Alan, I imagine that 91% reduction wasn’t from a very high number to begin with. So I think it’s probably worth pointing out that it wasn’t like there was a large number, it was a very small number, and you’ve done a really tremendous job of bringing that number down by orders of magnitude.

Alan Peacock: That is correct. I mean, I’m very much a count me up from zero kind of person, and that is our target to have zero incidents. We want to provide a differentiated, brilliant service to our clients.

Daniel Newman: So talk to us a little bit about the global footprint. One of the talking points of the large CSPs tends to be regions and zones and expansion. And of course, it’s tends to be a little bit of a chest beating out there. Hey, we’ve got zones and different clouds are doing it different ways. And what they count, it’s not necessarily an industry standard of an exact what constitutes a zone or a region, but IBM, in order to continue to build its name as a public cloud provider, is going to have to keep up. So what’s the approach? How are you building that global footprint? How is IBM thinking about that?

Alan Peacock: Yeah, sure. So we’re making some significant investments in building out our footprint globally. So most recently, we’re building out in Madrid in Spain, for example. We’ve got Frankfurt in Europe as well. We’re in London. We have a couple of zones in the US, we’re in South America, we’re in Asia Pacific, et cetera. So we’ve got a large footprint of data centers in our availability zones in our multi-zone regions globally. But we continue to follow our clients. So we listen to our clients, we listen to the demands of our clients and where they want to go, and then we will align our investments to that client demand. But as we build out those regions, we are obviously thinking about the resiliency question and making sure that we are building out to meet our client requirements in all of their resiliency and security requirements.

Patrick Moorhead: You mean building, you’re not actually building it out for the sake of chest beating. Sounds like more of a pragmatic approach, which I appreciate. So Alan, it’s been a great conversation so far. I think we’re down to our last question here, and this is kind of a net question and it’s not a marketing question, it’s a reality question, I promise. But how does IBM cloud differentiate from the rest of the pack? And it’s a very crowded pack when it comes to reliability, resiliency, stability, and security. We’ve talked a little bit about this through this entire, but I want to make sure that we stick this question here.

Alan Peacock: Yeah, sure. Thank you. And look, as I’ve said throughout this discussion, our top priority is security, stability, resiliency. Therefore, we believe we are differentiating ourself by providing a better platform than other cloud providers. We can demonstrate that through our incident volumes, our incident statistics, but also in the way that we handle incidents when they do occur. And we continue to make big investments in maintaining our platform and differentiating our platform through value add products like security compliance center, like our confidential computing capabilities, like our Wazi Z development service, et cetera. We are differentiating through those additional capabilities and also working with other third parties to make sure we de-risk their provisioning onto platform. So third party product providers, ISVs, where they can be certified on our platform, that they meet the control requirements of our critical clients, and we genuinely believe that combination of things massively differentiates us versus the rest of the pack.

Daniel Newman: Those are a number of important items, Alan, and I think we’re going to have to continue to follow this. It is an exciting space and it’s something that both Patrick and I are watching very closely. We advise and align with all the major public cloud providers and we are looking for those exact answers that you gave. What is the differentiating factors that are driving decisions? And so IBM, we’ve talked a lot about how we see the company for its enterprise hybrid cloud, but I think what you’ve really helped to resonate, hopefully for our audience out there, is the enterprise public cloud that has really targeted these specific industries, but it’s spanning and expanding to be able to handle more and more critical workloads. And this should resonate across other industries as well and help the overall IBM Cloud business grow.

Alan Peacock: Yeah, for sure. Dan, thank you for saying that.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I lined it up for you. I didn’t really leave a response, but I just wanted to kind of tie it all together before we sent you off. But Patrick, I don’t know if you have any other questions, but if we don’t, I think we can send Alan and say thank you so much for joining us here today on the Six Five, on this insider edition. It’s great to have you, you’re good spokesperson. I just want to say that. Someone I could definitely see having back on the show again, well spoken, great experience. So let’s bring you back in the near future and good luck to you in this relatively new role you have at IBM.

Alan Peacock: Yeah, thank you so much. Thank you.

Daniel Newman: All right, Patrick.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. So what I love first off is getting somebody who runs an operation of an organization and somebody with years and years, decades of experience actually doing it, who had a real job. And now, I mean, he has a real job, but you know what I mean.

Daniel Newman: I don’t sleep at night. Do I have a real job, Pat?

Patrick Moorhead: I don’t know. Well, I mean, you were CEO of a small company for a while when you were a kid, so I don’t know. But no, listen, IBM is innovating in areas that you would expect. I mean, it has a heritage in all of these regulated industries and it’s not magical thinking that they would be good and build out a cloud. I mean, cloud is not a place, it’s not a destination, it’s a way of operating and bringing that highly secure, highly resilient type of environment from on-prem to the cloud makes perfect sense. So I was glad to hear more details on what’s going on there, how they do it, and in the future, I’m looking forward to a follow-up to see maybe a year from now, where are they?

Daniel Newman: Absolutely. I think you hit it on the head. We’re following it closely. I think this was a needed story to be told. The hybrid story’s been very compelling, but the public cloud story is compelling too, and it needs to get that attention. It’s something I’ve been saying, it’s something I haven’t been afraid to say in public. They’re doing a lot of great things. It’s time to talk about it. So Pat, we love these insider editions. I’m sure we’re going to do more conversations just like this. So let’s thank our audience. So we’ll take a minute here and say thank you everyone for tuning in to this episode of the Six Five podcast insider. I’d love for you to click that subscribe button. Pat would too. We’d love to have you as a permanent part of our community for our weekly show. Our insider editions are on the roads, in the booths, and of course our annual Six Five summit. All right, that’s the promo moment, but it’s time for us to say goodbye to you, all of you today. So thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.

 

 

About the Author

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio