Vodafone and IBM are creating a new venture to help European businesses integrate multiple clouds in order to drive digital advances in the fields of AI, 5G, and Software Defined Networking (SDN).
The two firms cited research that points to the fact that more than 70 percent of organisations are using up to 15 different cloud environments to build their digital solutions and services.
This has meant that connecting these differing clouds and protecting cloud data has become a major priority for many businesses.
IBM and Vodafone have a long history of working together.
In 2017 for example, the two firms teamed up to offer a service that made it easier to move VMware workloads from private clouds to public infrastructure, eliminating many of the pain points associated with such migrations.
But now under the new deal, Vodafone Business customers will start to gain access to the full portfolio of IBM’s cloud offerings.
The idea is that customers will be able to take advantage of IBM’s cloud expertise, coupled with Vodafone’s connectivity solutions.
Essentially, IBM will provide managed services to Vodafone Business’ cloud and hosting unit, with Vodafone signing an eight-year deal with Big Blue worth $550 million (£425m).
This new venture will see both parties developing new digital solutions in the fields of IoT, 5G, and AI.
For example, it could help a customer (such as an oil rig) connect their cloud environments via 5G technology.
“IBM has built industry-leading hybrid cloud, AI and security capabilities underpinned by deep industry expertise,” said IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty. “Together, IBM and Vodafone will use the power of the hybrid cloud to securely integrate critical business applications, driving business innovation – from agriculture to next-generation retail.”
“Vodafone has successfully established its cloud business to help our customers succeed in a digital world,” said Vodafone CEO Nick Read. “This strategic venture with IBM allows us to focus on our strengths in fixed and mobile technologies, whilst leveraging IBM’s expertise in multicloud, AI and services.”
The deal will essentially help Vodafone grow revenue from business services (currently standing at 30 percent of overall revenue), as the Newbury-based firm battles intense competition across Europe in its traditional mobile and fixed-line markets.
For IBM, the deal will give it a chance to stop having to compete directly with the likes of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure in the cloud space.
The IBM and Vodafone cloud partnership is expected to be operational in the first half of 2019.
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