Linux, containers, Kubernetes the standard for IT’s next era: IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Gina Rometty IBM
IBM

The combination of Linux, containers, and the open source Kubernetes orchestration platform effectively represent a new standard as enterprises’ digital transformation efforts enter “chapter two,” according to IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty.

Rometty told IBM’s Cloud Innovation Exchange event in Sydney that “chapter one” had seen enterprises move around a fifth of their workloads to the cloud.

For the most part, those were either “low-hanging fruit” or new workloads. Increasingly, however, the focus will be on migrating more mission-critical workloads to cloud platforms, the IBM CEO said.

A 2018 study released by the IBM Institute for Business Value found that more than three-quarters of enterprise IT teams were juggling two to 15 cloud environments, but only a minority had a multicloud management strategy or tools in place to manage a multicloud environment.

“So now I've got to manage five to 15 public clouds; I have a lot of private clouds, some traditional work, and then data wherever it is,” Rometty said. “That, to me, is going to require a platform, an open platform.”

The “decision’s already been made” on that platform for “this next era”, Rometty said. The emergence of Linux, containers and Kubernetes as a de facto standard is what drove IBM’s US$34 billion acquisition of Red Hat.

Red Hat is a “leader in open source, but they're also the leader in those standards and those projects,” the IBM CEO said.

The platform delivers “extreme interoperability,” which is essential given that skills are enterprises' “number one challenge,” she added. “So if you have a platform that you could build once, and then run anywhere, that’s a really good thing for the future. And whether run anywhere means private cloud, public cloud, traditional work, edge computing – that’s, in fact, what Red Hat and the platform gives you.”

Along with the push to modernise mission critical workloads, Rometty said she saw two other key success factors for enterprises as they enter “chapter two”.

One is scaling the use of AI across the enterprise, which requires business to “re-imagine how work is done”.

The other is building a “relevant workforce”. She said in her view there are two key factors at play here: The increasing use of AI and the drive for constant reskilling.

Rometty said she believed that “100 per cent of jobs will change in the future”. “I didn't say be replaced -- I'm really careful with my words – they’ll change. And they will be changed because of AI.”

The other dynamic is that, on average, skills, particularly when it comes to technology, have “a half-life of three to five years”. “So what do you do?” Rometty said. Her view is that enterprises need to build a “skills-based culture”.

That requires radical transparency to help people understand the changing demand for their existing skills, and creating the capacity for personalised learning, she said.

To address that need internally IBM built a “sort of a Netflix for learning” that can infer an individual’s skills and help them develop their next set, the CEO said. Rewards and incentives should be based around skills development, she added. Rometty said that the shift to a skills-based culture meant that enterprises wouldn’t just hired based on skills but on propensity to learn.

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