Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Thursday, March 23, 2023

IBM Announces New Watson AI, IBM Cloud Capabilities, Customers 

IBM this afternoon issued several updates to its public cloud and Watson AI portfolios, including news that Aegean Airlines, BNP Paribas, ExxonMobil, Elaw Tecnologia SA (a Brazil-based legal management company) and Home Trust “are selecting IBM public cloud as their preferred destination for mission critical workloads,” Big Blue said.

On the AI front, IBM announced updates to its “Watson Anywhere” strategy designed to scale AI across any cloud and to ease AI implementations, according to the company.

New functionality includes:

Drift Detection – Intended to address the concerns about data privacy and algorithm accountability, IBM announced the “Drift Detection” capability within Watson OpenScale, an AI platform launched last year to detect bias and to enable understanding of how AI arrived at its results. IBM said Drift Detection Drift Detection indicates how far a model has “drifted” by comparing production and training data and the resulting predictions it creates. Alerts are issued when a user-defined drift threshold is exceeded.

Watson Assistant – IBM’s new Watson Assistant for Voice Interaction is designed to help clients integrate an AI-powered assistant into IVR systems, enabling customers to ask questions in natural language, the company said. Clients can also blend texting and voice, allowing instantaneous information exchange, according to IBM.

Watson Discovery – IBM announced updates to Watson Discovery, its AI search product that leverages machine learning and natural language processing to help clients find data across the enterprise. New to the platform is Content Miner, designed for the searching of large datasets for specific content types, such as text and images. IBM said it offers a simplified setup format to help non-technical users and a “guided experience” capability that recommends next steps in configuring projects.

Cloud Pak for Data – IBM announced that its integrated data analytics platform is now certified on Red Hat OpenShift, the Kubernetes-based container orchestration platform, which IBM said assures customers “that all the components came from a supported source, container images contain no known vulnerabilities and most importantly that the containers running throughout are compatible across Red Hat Enterprise Linux environments, regardless of the cloud, and whether private, public or hybrid.”

IBM also announced that the professional services firm KPMG, a long-time IBM customer, and Air France-KLM airlines are leveraging Watson apps or building their own AI with Watson tools. KPMG worked with IBM to provide clients “greater governance and explainability of their AI, no matter where that data resides, no matter what cloud and no matter what AI platform the company was using,” IBM said. Last month, KPMG teamed with IBM to release a joint offering of this solution to clients called KPMG AI in Control with Watson OpenScale.

IBM said Air France-KLM developed a voice assistant called MIA (My Interactive Assistant) that uses IBM Watson Assistant with Voice Interaction. The capability is designed to improve customer service by reducing file processing time.

“IBM’s strategy for developing AI tools that enable clients to run AI wherever their data is, is exactly the reason we turned to OpenScale – we needed multicloud scalability in order to give clients the kind of transparency and explainability we were talking about,” said Steve Hill, global and US head of innovation at KPMG. “Supporting the client’s environment, whatever it may be, reflects the understanding that IBM has not only about AI, but about the expanding enterprise.”

For IBM Cloud, the company announced what it said is the industry’s “only commercially available state-of-art cryptographic technology for the cloud” called “Keep Your Own Key,” offering encryption keys and cryptographic operations protected with highest level certified HSM - with Hyper Protect Cryto services: FIPS 140-2 Level 4. “This gives enterprises the ability to retain control of their own encryption keys -- and the hardware security modules that protect them -- so customers are the only ones who can control access to their data,” the company said.

IBM also announced increased bandwidth for its virtual cloud servers of up to 80 Gbps, “making the IBM public cloud hyperscale-ready,” along with expansion to its cloud footprint with new multizone regions planned for Toronto, Canada and Osaka, Japan by the end of 2020.

IBM said its Power9 server technology, connecting IBM CPUs with Nvidia GPUs via high-speed interconnect and used in the IBM Summit and Sierra supercomputers (ranked no. 1 and 2 in the world), is “expected to be available for select geographies” on IBM Cloud by the end of this year, a development industry observers have expected for some time.

The cloud announcements follow release of IBM’s quarterly earnings last week in which the company said cloud revenue for the past 12 months totaled more than $20 billion (in July, market leader AWS announced cloud revenues of $8.4 billion for its most recently reported quarter).

“Open architectures, based on Kubernetes and containers, are driving the next wave of cloud-based innovation,” said Arvind Krishna, SVP, Cloud and Cognitive Software, IBM. “That’s why IBM has just completed a two-year journey to enhance its public cloud on a foundation of open source software. Today, we are going a step further by unveiling new capabilities for the IBM public cloud, designed to provide clients with the highest available level of security, leading data protection and enterprise-grade infrastructure to run Red Hat OpenShift.”

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