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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.
Anurag Agrawal

Unveiling the Future of AI: IBM's Unwavering Commitment to Innovation and Collaboration

Enterprises are grappling with AI's transformative power, a technology poised to automate and elevate both creative and analytical tasks. Despite its early stages, AI adoption holds immense growth potential. Recognizing this, IBM took center stage at Think 2024, showcasing its unwavering commitment to AI innovation.

IBM's leadership in driving enterprise AI is evident through its three key pillars: open-source initiatives, which democratize AI and make it more accessible; leveraging the combined expertise of its consulting arm and ecosystem partners, which ensures the highest quality of AI solutions; and significant updates to the watsonx platform, which enhance the performance and capabilities of AI. These updates are about technological advancements and making AI more accessible and impactful for businesses worldwide. By prioritizing openness, affordability, and flexibility, IBM is breaking down barriers and paving the way for widespread AI adoption.

Open-Source Innovations and InstructLab

AI, a field deeply rooted in open collaboration, has been shaped by a tradition that dates back to its inception. Consider Alan Turing's groundbreaking 1950s paper, 'Computing Machinery and Intelligence,' which introduced the world to AI. This vision turned into reality thanks to the open sharing of work by countless researchers worldwide, laying the foundation for the AI we know today. IBM, a torchbearer of this tradition, continues to place open-source innovation at the core of its latest AI initiatives, inviting users and businesses to be part of this rich and impactful tradition.

IBM has unveiled a family of Granite models, a significant addition to the open-source AI ecosystem. These models, with parameter counts ranging from 3 billion to 34 billion, have been trained in 116 programming languages. They are available in base and instruction-following variants, offering a wide range of applications from complex modernization to bug fixing. These models represent some of IBM's most advanced language and code capabilities and are available under Apache 2.0 licenses on collaborative platforms such as HuggingFace and GitHub. This exciting development opens up a world of possibilities.

IBM's approach to AI development sets it apart from other major companies. While many have chosen to release pre-trained models, withholding the datasets used for training, IBM has taken a different path. It has offered open-source models, democratizing AI development and inviting clients, developers, and experts worldwide to explore new AI advancements in enterprise settings. This unique strategy, coupled with IBM's commitment to quality and efficiency, ensures that these models consistently generate high-quality code superior to many alternative large language models (LLMs) and excel at various code-related tasks, surpassing larger open-source counterparts.

“We firmly believe in bringing open innovation to AI. We want to use the power of open source to do with AI what was successfully done with Linux and OpenShift,” IBM CEO Arvind Krishna at IBM’s Annual Think Conference.

ibm think2024

To further its commitment to open-source AI, IBM has announced InstructLab, an open-source project designed to address challenges in fine-tuning LLMs for specialized tasks. This project focuses on scalability by efficiently handling large volumes of data for model training and specialization by tailoring models to specific industry needs.

Anurag Agrawal

Global Reach, Streamlined Sales: IBM Expands Software Sales on AWS Marketplace

Over the past four years, the IBM-AWS partnership has evolved into a unique success story. Unlike many other collaborations, this partnership is a complete 360-degree relationship, encompassing a wide range of collaborations. These two tech giants have achieved remarkable milestones in a relatively short timeframe. IBM Consulting, for instance, boasts an impressive number of AWS certifications (over 23,000) and competencies (19). They are also working together on the cutting-edge field of Generative AI (Gen AI). The partnership has fueled significant growth in adopting Red Hat Open Shift on AWS (ROSA), a native service within the AWS console, proving instrumental in IBM's hybrid cloud strategy. This strategy prioritizes co-existence between cloud and mainframe environments. The focus on collaboration extends to mainframe application modernization, where IBM and AWS have developed valuable patterns that showcase the combined power of these technologies. Additionally, a clear roadmap has been established for watsonx on AWS, with integrations underway with SageMaker, Bedrock, and other AWS products to accelerate Gen AI development and generate a wealth of practical use cases.

The partnership extends beyond just collaboration on specific technologies. IBM software is experiencing a surge in popularity on the AWS platform, with 29 products now available as-a-service offerings. This is part of a larger picture that includes 29 IBM software products and 44 transactable marketplace listings on AWS. The resell model for these offerings has also seen expansion, now encompassing five countries: the US, France, Germany, Denmark, and the UK. Furthermore, a two-tiered distribution model has been established in these countries with industry leaders like Ingram Micro, TD Synnex, and Arrow, further strengthening the reach of these combined solutions. Notably, a significant portion of IBM's partners are already established AWS partners. These partners recognize the value proposition of adding IBM solutions to their offerings, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved – IBM, AWS, and their partners, who can now deliver even more comprehensive solutions to their customers.

In the latest move, IBM and AWS have announced a strategic partnership that promises to reshape the landscape of AI and data technology. This alliance will provide partners and clients unprecedented access to advanced technologies, opening up new avenues for growth and innovation. The collaboration between these two tech giants means clients will now have enhanced access to IBM's robust AI and data platforms through AWS's expansive marketplace. This integration allows for the seamless adoption of sophisticated tools to drive business transformation. With IBM's technology becoming available on AWS, the marketplace is poised to expand significantly. Partners can leverage this opportunity to offer a broader range of services and solutions, catering to the diverse needs of businesses across various industries. The synergy between IBM's AI and data expertise and AWS's cloud infrastructure is expected to deliver enhanced business value. Clients can expect more efficient operations, improved customer experiences, and the ability to tap into new markets, thanks to the comprehensive solutions provided by this partnership.

The IBM-AWS partnership is more than just a collaboration; it's a fusion of strengths that will empower partners and clients. As the partnership evolves, we can anticipate a wave of innovation that will lead the way in AI and data technology, ultimately benefiting businesses around the globe.

Anurag Agrawal

IBM’s Transformation of Watson into watsonx and Launch of QRadar Suite: Enhancing Security and AI Capabilities

I have been a regular attendee of IBM Think for many years. The recently held IBM Think 2023 was a defining moment in more ways than one. First, IBM presented a cohesive narrative around Open Hybrid Cloud, Security, AI, and Ecosystem that resonated with customers and partners. Second, IBM demonstrated its commitment to helping companies leverage AI by introducing watsonx. This platform includes foundation models, generative AI, and a governance toolkit. Finally, at its recent Think event, IBM emphasized the impact of ChatGPT and AI on businesses and demonstrated the capabilities of watsonx. The company also highlighted the importance of its partner ecosystem and announced plans to invest in and expand its network to double its revenues. In this article, I will discuss several strategic initiatives that are likely to make a significant impact. In particular, I will delve into the details of the new QRadar suite, the generative AI capabilities of watsonx, and IBM’s efforts to empower partner success.

The rise in remote work and global interconnectivity of devices has brought significant changes and challenges to cybersecurity. Organizations are dealing with complex IT systems that require better visibility, threat detection, and incident response capabilities. Adopting cloud technology, especially hybrid cloud environments, has further complicated the situation. Security teams need help to secure public-facing applications running in the cloud and ensure all applications are up to date.

There is a growing demand for gathering more security data to enhance visibility. However, data collection can be costly and complicated, particularly when transferring it between different cloud platforms. In addition, organizations deploy multiple security tools to protect their new cloud infrastructure, adding to the challenges faced by security professionals.

Organizations are setting up enhanced Security Operations Centers (SOCs) to address these challenges. However, SOC professionals often face overwhelming workloads and require user-friendly tools that can be integrated with different security products. In addition, manual investigation of threats slows down their response time. To address these challenges, IBM has introduced a range of security solutions, including the IBM QRadar Suite.

QRadar Suite: Overview

The QRadar Suite is a subscription-based (SaaS) offering that combines AI-enhanced versions of IBM's existing threat detection and response solutions into a comprehensive global product. It represents a significant advancement and expansion of the QRadar brand, encompassing all critical technologies related to threat detection, investigation, and response. The original QRadar technology was integrated into IBM's portfolio after the acquisition of Q1 Labs in 2011. The new QRadar Suite goes beyond traditional security information and event management (SIEM) capabilities, aiming to provide a unified experience for security management. Its goal is to assist organizations in managing extended detection and response (EDR/XDR) capabilities, SIEM functionalities, and Security Orchestration Automation and Response (SOAR) in cybersecurity.

In addition, IBM has enhanced the suite's capabilities via strategic acquisitions. For example, the inclusion of SOAR capabilities results from the purchase of Resilient in 2016, while the EDR capabilities are attributed to the addition of ReaQta in 2021. Additionally, the QRadar Suite includes a new product, QRadar Log Insights, a cloud-based tool for security log management and federated search and investigation.

Standout Elements: Unified Interface, Automated Investigation, and Flexible Purchase

The QRadar Suite stands out due to three key features: a unified interface, automated investigation capabilities, and flexible purchase options.

Firstly, the suite has been developed in collaboration with security analysts, resulting in a unified and modernized interface that centralizes capabilities and workflows across IBM QRadar and 3rd party solutions. The Unified Analyst Experience (UAX) centralizes insights across both IBM and 3rd Party security tools, not just IBM products. It does this through its “Federated Search” capability. This consistent interface assists analysts throughout their investigation, response, and threat-hunting workflows across EDR/XDR, SIEM, SOAR, and Security Log Management (SLM). In addition, it empowers them to navigate the attack chain swiftly and efficiently, enhancing their response effectiveness.

Secondly, the suite includes Threat Investigator, an AI-powered automated investigation feature that helps manage and prioritize threat alerts by providing comprehensive details about threats and recommending automated response actions for quick mitigation. By automating the data mining processes across various security systems, Threat Investigator reduces the manual effort required for alert investigation, enabling faster response times. The suite also combines essential threat detection, research, and response technologies. Built on an open hybrid cloud platform (OpenShift), it enables extensive interoperability with over 900 pre-built integrations and has a comprehensive partner ecosystem. Leveraging MITRE and SIGMA natively, the suite allows security teams to adapt and keep pace with attackers seamlessly.

Thirdly, it offers flexible purchase options. Customers can obtain individual components separately or as a comprehensive suite. While most components are delivered as a service through AWS, the SIEM component is initially present on the IBM Cloud. It becomes available on AWS at the end of June, allowing for streamlined deployment, enhanced visibility, and seamless integration across cloud environments and data sources. In addition, the modular design of the suite enables customers to start using it with their desired products and easily add additional components as needed.

Anurag Agrawal

Post-pandemic lead generation is proving problematic for channel partners

Six months have changed how SMBs and enterprises operate, how employees work, how customers purchase, and how products/services get delivered. A shift in go-to-market imperatives has become problematic for channel partners. Techaisle leveraged its panel of 225K channel partners to understand the impact of the pandemic on channel business. 49% of channel partners have allocated resources and budget for lead generation, but 60% rely on leads from vendors, an increase of 18% from pre-pandemic. 29% more channel partners than previously are finding social media as one of the most effective methods of lead generation. 46% of partners have increased their usage of analytics to drive leads, and 60% have increased influencer marketing.

Techaisle survey research data also shows that for 42% of channel partners, driving growth is the top business issue, especially with a clear focus on increasing the effectiveness of sales and marketing. Despite pandemic, 68% of channel partners expect revenue increases in the next year but have tempered their revenue growth expectations from 19% to slightly over 10%. Channel partners deploying digital transformation solutions expect ~2X revenue increase compared to those who are still not focused on digital transformation offerings for their customer base.

The requirement to focus on digital discovery conveys some hard truths. The first is that channel partners need to reach a large and diverse buyer population, extending beyond the IT department into business units and the executive suite, which means that marketers need to create and place various messages to keep the sales process on track. Another important implication is that prospects who engage with a vendor will represent a relatively small subset of the total potential market, as many buyers will disqualify suppliers before drafting a potential vendor list. The third implication follows the first two: to maximize the addressable market; channel partners need to embrace digital marketing as a way to gain entree to accounts that have not yet self-identified as prospects. Channel partners that rely on traditional lead generation campaigns realize that these funnels are reaching a diminishing share of the market.

Marketing has not been a primary focus for most channel businesses, and those that have invested in marketing staff have typically tasked them with optimizing access to vendor investment funds. Marketing’s need to add advanced digital competencies is challenging most channel partners. Vendors will need to provide programs that support content and digital marketing to ensure that their partners can engage with the largest possible number of prospective clients. Techaisle’s research highlights the core issue. Buyers, working in teams that average 5.1 individuals, typically don’t have meaningful contact with a supplier until they are 70% of the way through the purchase process.

All four of the top IT suppliers – Dell Technologies, Cisco, HPE, and IBM – have made partner marketing a priority.

  • Dell Technologies’ Cheryl Cook, SVP, Global Partner Marketing, is made it a mission to equip and educate partners with a series of guided podcasts and webinars
  • Cisco’s Boon Lai, VP, Global Partner Marketing, is enhancing the marketing velocity program
  • HPE’s Laura Seymour, Senior Director, Global Channel Marketing, is focused on Marketing Pro and Partner Marketing Concierge
  • IBM’s Catherine Solazzo, VP, Partner Ecosystem Performance Marketing is driving My Digital Marketing platform

If the customer journey begins with research conducted via the web, the marketing imperative must start with digital discovery. The channel partner marketing teams should take advantage of their IT suppliers’ initiatives, invest in putting thought leadership messages in front of prospective customers, and in the processes required to nurture new contacts to the point where they become sales-ready leads. Leaders at traditional channel partners will recognize this endpoint – but the process needed to arrive at this point is much different in the post-pandemic world.

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