11 Aug 2021
8 minute read

How IBM Research is creating the future of hybrid cloud

Constellation Research report praises IBM Research for commitment to fundamental research that's delivering competitive cloud solutions.

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Constellation Research report praises IBM Research for commitment to fundamental research that's delivering competitive cloud solutions.

“IBM is one of the few vendors offering a competitive cloud solution in the 2020s that also has been a traditional IT leader and supplier for more than 50 years.”

Strong words from Constellation Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Holger Mueller in his March 2021 report, “IBM Research Bolsters IBM Hybrid Cloud: A Strong Innovation Pipeline Can Make a Difference for IBM Hybrid Cloud—and for IBM.”1

And like so many past innovations and industry firsts—from powering the Apollo mission, to putting the first quantum computer online for the world to use—IBM is building the hard tech behind the future of computing.

A hybrid approach to cloud computing transformation

Thanks to innovations like agile development practices and cloud-native tools, platforms, and consumption models, technological progress is faster than ever before. At the same time, AI and data analytics techniques are getting increasingly capable of extracting value from the vast amounts of data we produce, fueling an ever-increasing demand for more compute capacity. This demand can be met by the nearly limitless computing now available at all our fingertips, thanks to the maturation of public clouds.

But efforts to adopt new technologies are juxtaposed against a backdrop of years of prior infrastructure investments, where large IT footprints exist in traditional data centers running legacy systems. And for most companies, cloud technologies’ value also requires specialized skills, and the ability to use, manage, and protect the data on the cloud isn’t so simple.

Navigating this landscape and the associated opportunities and challenges is a massive undertaking for any business. It's particularly straining for the business functions responsible for security and compliance against relentless and increasingly sophisticated attacks, and an ever-changing compliance landscape.

We believe there is tremendous value to unlock if we solve the primary challenges in today’s world of Learn more from the IBM Cloud Learn Hub: What’s is Hybrid Cloud?.hybrid cloud computing:

  • Moving from legacy to cloud and AI models: Helping businesses transform their IT estates so they can reap the benefits of state-of-the-art hybrid cloud and AI technologies.
  • Creating truly hybrid architectures: Helping customers simplify the productive use and management of complex and heterogeneous IT estates, spanning legacy systems, private cloud, several public cloud environments, and even edge.
  • Streamlining security and compliance: Reduce the burden and overhead of navigating security and compliance concerns in the hybrid cloud, which currently slows down innovation and technology adoption.
  • Preparing for the future: Identifying and anticipating the next frontiers of technology that will enable businesses to achieve things that remain unachievable today.

Our hybrid cloud research works to address these challenges in four ways:

  1. Driving agility through AI and automation. We are developing AI capabilities to support our customers throughout their journeys to cloud. This includes helping them modernize applications, keep IT available more of the time, and navigate security and compliance concerns. AI assistance for these tasks will help customers overcome some of the roadblocks that prevent them from reaping the full benefits of hybrid cloud. This work is underpinned by a strong technological focus on the discipline of AI for Code: the idea that code is itself similar in many ways to human language, and we can therefore build AI systems that can “speak the language” of software.
  2. Creating a seamless hybrid cloud platform. We are focused on simplifying the experience of using and managing a fragmented IT landscape of both infrastructure and data. To do this we are evolving the platform itself, particularly the management for both infrastructure and data across on-premise data centers, public clouds, and edge. Letting customers treat fragmented data and large fleets of distributed devices as if they are all part of a single computing environment would tremendously simplify the job of developers and IT administrators, and open the door to new business opportunities.
  3. Establishing a holistic approach to security and compliance. Our approach involves both hardware- and software-defined technologies that enhance security by strengthening the separation between user workloads and providing evidence of the trustworthiness of the underlying IT platforms running the user workloads. Moreover, we are transforming compliance processes from manual exercises to modern, software-defined approaches to dramatically reduce the overhead on compliance officers and their teams. Our vision is to mitigate the security and compliance obstacles that slow teams down, and in doing so accelerate the pace of innovation across the enterprise.
  4. Enabling flexible, composable computing. We are redefining performance-focused computing across all layers of the hybrid cloud stack, from core infrastructure innovations (like network and storage, as well as quantum computing and AI accelerators), to a performant hybrid cloud platform (optimized for large-scale and performance-sensitive workloads), to advances in serverless computing that simplify consumption of state-of-the-art capabilities underneath.

Our vision is to reimagine supercomputing, using the benefits of the hybrid cloud: simplicity, agility, scale on demand, automation, and access to best-in-class resources, wherever they are. Reimagining and democratizing access to supercomputing, making it available to anyone with a cloud account, has the potential to enable more people to achieve previously unachievable things.

The hybrid cloud research organization, along with our IBM Research counterparts in AI, quantum computing, and exploratory science, is delivering research innovations that help enterprises and other organizations meet what challenges and opportunities lie ahead. We are extremely excited about the hybrid world we are helping to shape.

Remember Holger’s comment from the beginning of the article? He followed it with this:

Obviously, IBM has been doing something right to remain competitive, and its commitment to fundamental research via IBM Research has been an important cornerstone for that continuity.

Learn more about:

Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure: We’re driving infrastructure innovations spanning physical infrastructure, operating systems, and software-defined compute, network, and storage.

Exploratory Science: We’re striving for a greater understanding of how our world works and how we can harness that to advance science, mathematics, and computation.


  1. Note 1Learn more from the IBM Cloud Learn Hub: What’s is Hybrid Cloud?. ↩︎