Visitors gather at IBM’s booth during a high-tech exhibition in Shanghai. [Photo by GAO YUWEN/China DAILY]

More efforts are needed by Chinese enterprises to unlock the value of the hybrid cloud, as it is poised to be a driver of digital transformation, said Alain Benichou, CEO of IBM Greater China Group.

The hybrid cloud is a cloud computing strategy that integrates a fragmented IT environment composed of a mix of multiple cloud services and traditional on-premise infrastructure and allows shared data and apps between each service.

“The concept of ‘cloud is public cloud’ has come to an end. Now we see customers using six or seven different public cloud services from different cloud vendors at the same time, proving that it is already a multi-cloud era,” said Benichou.

But for companies, it could be a “nightmare” to manage these different clouds, which put high demands on their ability for system maintenance and infrastructure operation, Benichou said.

“Openness is not only a sound choice but also a necessary choice. Companies are in urgent need of a hybrid cloud architecture to manage the complexity brought by the multi-cloud,” he said.

To tackle the bottleneck, IBM offers its Cloud Pak solution, which is an artificial intelligence-infused software portfolio that runs on Red Hat OpenShift platform. The next-generation open platform enables companies to build and manage across any clouds on a common platform.

The innovative open platform also affirms that the hybrid cloud will be “a growth business” for IBM in China, Benichou said.

“We see especially huge opportunities from the financing industry, and we are committed to bringing our financial industry-ready public cloud to China.”

He also said IBM has built a long-term trust with Chinese banks and its data center mainframes have been at the core of China’s financial systems for decades.

In 2019, IBM launched its Cloud Pak solution. Douglas Miao, vice-president and general manager of cloud and cognitive software of IBM Greater China Group, said Cloud Pak has gained rapid growth momentum in China with over 70 companies, including Yangtze River Pharmaceutical Group adopting it.

“Through use of the hybrid cloud platform, companies can shorten the development time by 84 percent and reduce operational costs by 75 percent,” Miao said.

IBM acquired Red Hat last year but maintained the latter’s independence. “It is to ensure that Red Hat products can run in any environment according to the wishes of customers. This is also IBM’s commitment to openness,” he said.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry advocacy, said “new infrastructure “will bring opportunities for not just domestic companies but foreign tech enterprises that have long-term development plans in China.

New infrastructure figures in China’s Government Work Report, and refers to next-generation information networks and 5G applications that will be set up and expanded to stimulate new consumer demand and promote industrial upgrading.