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IBM's Watson AIOps aims to help networks run smoothly

Launched during IBM Think 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, IBM's Watson AIOps aims to use AI to help CIOs more quickly and efficiently keep their networks running.

Entering a crowded marketplace, IBM launched Watson AIOps, a tool aimed at helping CIOs automatically keep their IT networks running smoothly.

The new product, released at the tech giant's IBM Think 2020 conference, held virtually, comes as much of America's workforce is working remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations across the country to close offices. As enterprises move more, and in some cases, entirely, online, many are finding that network stability is even more important now than before the public health crisis.

Managing networks

"Watson AIOps addresses the need for IT departments to solve problems remotely and drive more automation into inefficient processes," said Nick McQuire, senior vice president and head of AI and enterprise research at CCS Insight.

The AIOps system enables enterprises to add automation at the infrastructure level to detect, diagnose and fix IT anomalies. It aims to help CIOs build and manage more responsive, intelligent and longer-lasting networks, IBM said.

"We want to arm every CIO in the world to use AI to predict problems before they happen, fix problems before they happen," and quickly address the problems that do arise, said Rob Thomas, senior vice president of IBM Cloud and Data Platform, during a conference call with media.

"The CIO needs a powerful AI ... helping to run the operation," he continued.

Watson AIOps, which comes out of the IBM Research division, is built on the latest release of Red Hat OpenShift, enabling it to run across hybrid cloud environments. Through a variety of vendor partnerships, the product can work in concert with workplace tools, including Slack and Box, as well as with providers of traditional IT monitoring platforms, including ones from online chat service vendor Mattermost and ServiceNow.

The right time

For McQuire, Watson AIOps, IBM's first significant move into the AIOps market, comes at a time when enterprises are struggling with the economic impact of the coronavirus, and are looking for new technologies and practical strategies to survive.

Arvind Krishna, IBM CEOArvind Krishna

IBM also appears to be basing its strategy with the AIOps technology on that worldview. Arvind Krishna, IBM's new CEO, said Tuesday during a live-streamed keynote from the virtual conference that the pandemic is an opportunity to develop new solutions, partnerships and ways of working.

The pandemic has shown the need for technological change and will ultimately accelerate enterprises' digital transformations and AI adoption, Krishna said.

"I strongly believe that AI can play a critical role in assisting clients during this uncertain time," he said.

A crowded market

Still, despite the decisive move by IBM, several of IBM's key competitors already have similar tools to automate business processes, McQuire noted.

Vendors such as Cisco, Moogsoft and Splunk, for example, have long provided advanced AIOps capabilities. At the same time, major cloud vendors, including Microsoft and AWS, offer AIOps tools on their platforms or maintain close partnerships with AIOps vendors.

Watson AIOps "will undoubtedly raise the temperature of the AI wars between the major cloud vendors as technologies like process automation become a key battleground," McQuire said.

More AI tools

Timed with the release of Watson AIOps, IBM also revealed Accelerator for Application Modernization with AI, a new capability within IBM's Cloud Modernization service designed to reduce the effort and costs associated with application modernization.

Watson AIOps addresses the need for IT departments to solve problems remotely and drive more automation into inefficient processes.
Nick McQuireAnalyst, CCS Insight

The new product, through several AI-powered tools can plot the best path for application optimization, help make applications cloud-ready, and automatically understand legacy code to recommend microservices that can shorten the time to modernizing older applications.

The company also revealed updates to a few of its AI and automation platforms.

IBM Cloud Pak for Data 3.0 added several extensions to the data and AI platform, including IBM Planning Analytics, an automated planning, budgeting and forecasting tool.

Meanwhile, a recent update to IBM Cloud Pak for Automation, a platform for designing, building and running automation applications, simplifies the building of automated workers. With the update, users can more easily develop and manage employees working remotely, as well as quickly assign simple jobs to them, such as invoicing.

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