IBM Brings Watson AI To Rival Clouds

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Watson AI services are set to become available on almost any infrastructure, including private clouds and multiple clouds, as IBM looks to put AI wherever data is stored

IBM has said it plans to make all its Watson artificial intelligence services available on rivals’ cloud infrastructure, and not just its own platform, as it continues a drive to bolster its services business.

The company said it is making two flagship Watson services available across multiple platforms right away – Watson Assistant, for building interfaces that run on an Alexa-style AI conversations, and Watson OpenScale, for managing multiple AI instances.

But it said it plans to make all other Watson offerings available later this year, including Watson Knowledge Studio and Watson natural language understanding capabilities.

Assistant and OpenScale are available immediately across technologies such as on-premises clouds, or any private, public, hybrid or multiple-cloud environment.

Image credit: IBM

Cross-cloud deployment

The idea is to make it easier for companies to deploy AI on the complex environments in which their data already resides, rather than using the technology as a lure to stay on one particular platform, IBM said.

“Businesses have largely been limited to experimenting with AI in siloes due to the limitations caused by cloud provider lock-in of their data,” said IBM data and AI general manager Rob Thomas in a statement timed with the opening of IBM’s annual Think conference for demonstrating new technologies. “With most large organisations storing data across hybrid cloud environments, they need the freedom and choice to apply AI to their data wherever it is stored.”

IBM said it would use IBM Cloud Private, its private cloud offering, to deploy Watson on private clouds, and would use containerisation technologies such as Kubernetes to deploy Watson across clouds.

Machine Learning Accelerator

IBM also said it was launching a new version of the Watson Machine Learning Accelerator that adds high-performance GPU clustering to Power Systems and x86 systems.

It said the new offering accelerates the performance of machine learning training by up to 10 times compared with rival offerings.

IBM announced a forthcoming technology called Business  Automation Intelligence with Watson, which it said gives businesses the ability to apply AI directly to applications and automating certain workflows.

The software, which is also to measure the level of effectiveness brought about by the use of AI, is set to be released later this year, but IBM said businesses can sign up for an early access programme.

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