- IBM is opening up Watson's artificial intelligence capabilities in Watson Assistant and Watson OpenScale to any public and private cloud provider, according to a company announcement Tuesday.
- Because the technology is available on any public, private or hybrid cloud environment, Watson can be woven with businesses' internal applications. Enabled by integration through IBM Cloud Private for Data (ICP for Data), Watson could help companies avoid the traditional inflexibility of scaling AI services, according to the announcement.
- Watson comes with applications, development tools, machine learning tools and management services to mine data while automating "time- and resource- sensitive processes," according to the announcement.
The public cloud space is dominated by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google, whereas IBM has found its place in the private cloud domain alongside Rackspace and NTT.
The IBM cloud sits at the bottom of the niche cloud players of Gartner's Magic Quadrant for 2018, released in May. Big Blue's strengths lie in its service for companies with legacy IT, according to Gartner. Its developer ecosystem is also a driver of its cloud's infrastructure adoption.
However, IBM faces challenges with the rollout of its Next-Generation Infrastructure project, which will eventually produce new cloud infrastructure as a service offerings. The uncertainty of the project continues IBM's "history in the cloud IaaS business, repeatedly encountered engineering challenges that have negatively impacted its time to market," according to Gartner.
But now Watson has broken IBM out of the private cloud space and into its cloud competitors' territory.
The move to allow AI experimentation beyond the perimeters of a company's existing cloud provider is part of IBM's efforts to "prevent vendor lock-in and start deploying AI wherever their data resides," according to the announcement.
Though other cloud providers have their own AI offerings, IBM is opening the AI market up. For example, IBM and McCormick & Co. recently paired up for an AI collaboration, though the spice company uses AWS.
Vendor lock-in made AI experimentation siloed. Watson's presence will essentially break down separations, exposing data in hybrid cloud environments to AI capabilities.
Cloud vendors, like Microsoft, know that sustainability with enterprise customers includes beefing up their software, AI and cloud capabilities. But while businesses widely agree AI's presence is a strategic opportunity, the complexity of data inhibits AI's effectiveness.