Milan Shetti, President and CEO, Rocket Software.
With the rising popularity of cloud-based solutions over the last decade, a growing misconception in the professional world is that mainframe technology is becoming obsolete. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the results of a latest Rocket survey of over 500 U.S. IT professionals found businesses today still rely heavily on the mainframe over cloud-based or distributed technologies to power their IT infrastructures—including 67 of the Fortune 100.
Despite the allure surrounding digital solutions, a latest IBM study uncovered that 82% of executives agree their business case still supports mainframe-based applications. This is partly due to the increase in disruptive events taking place throughout the world—the Covid-19 pandemic, a weakened global supply chain, cybersecurity breaches and increased regulations across the board—leading companies to continue leveraging the reliability and security of the mainframe infrastructure.
However, the benefits are clear, and the need is apparent for organizations to consider modernizing their mainframe infrastructure and implementing modern cloud-based solutions into their IT environment to remain competitive in today’s digital world.
Overcoming Mainframe Obstacles
Businesses leveraging mainframe technology that hasn’t been modernized may struggle to attract new talent to their organization. With the new talent entering the professional market primarily trained on cloud-based software, traditional mainframe software and processes create a skills gap that could deter prospective hires and lead to companies missing out on top-tier talent.
Without modernization, many legacy mainframes lack connectivity with modern cloud-based solutions. Although the mainframe provides a steady, dependable operational environment, it’s well known that the efficiency, accuracy and accessibility modern cloud-based solutions create have helped simplify and Strengthen many operational practices. Mainframe infrastructures that can’t integrate innovative tools—like automation—to streamline processes or provide web and mobile access to remote employees—which has become essential following the pandemic—have become impractical for most business operations.
Considering these impending hurdles, organizations are at a crossroads with their mainframe operations. Realistically, there are three roads a business can choose to journey down. The first is to continue “operating as-is,” which is cost-effective but more or less avoids the issue at hand and positions a company to get left in the dust by its competitors. A business can also “re-platform” or completely remove and replace its current mainframe infrastructure in favor of distributed or cloud models. However, this option can be disruptive, pricey and time-consuming and forces businesses to simply toss out most of their expensive technology investments.
The final option is to “modernize in place.” Modernizing in place allows businesses to continue leveraging their technology investments through mainframe modernization. It’s the preferred method of IT professionals—56% compared to 27% continuing to “operate as-is” and 17% opting to “re-platform”—because it’s typically cost-efficient, less disruptive to operations and improves the connectivity and flexibility of the IT infrastructure.
Most importantly, modernizing in place lets organizations integrate cloud solutions directly into their mainframe environment. In this way, teams can seamlessly transition into a more efficient and sustainable hybrid cloud model that helps alleviate the challenges of the traditional mainframe infrastructure.
Modernizing In Place With A Hybrid Cloud Strategy
With nearly three-quarters of executives from some of the largest and most successful businesses in agreement that mainframe-based applications are still central to business strategy, the mainframe isn’t going anywhere. And with many organizations still opting for mainframe-based solutions for data-critical operating systems—such as financial management, customer transaction systems of record, HR systems and supply chain data management systems—mainframe-based applications are actually expected to grow over the next two years. That’s why businesses must look to leverage their years of technology investments alongside the latest tools.
Modernizing in place with a hybrid cloud strategy is one of the best paths for an enterprise to meet the evolving needs of the market and its customers while simultaneously implementing an efficient and sustainable IT infrastructure. It lets companies leverage innovative cloud solutions in their tech stack that help bridge the skills gap to entice new talent while making operations accessible for remote employees.
The integration of automated tools and artificial intelligence capabilities in a hybrid model can help eliminate many manual processes to reduce workloads and Strengthen productivity. The flexibility of a modernized hybrid environment can also allow teams to implement cutting-edge processes like DevOps and CI/CD testing into their operations, helping ensure a continuously optimized operational environment.
With most IT professionals in agreement that hybrid is the answer moving forward, it’s clear that more and more businesses that work within mainframe environments will begin to migrate cloud solutions into their tech stack. Modernizing in place with a hybrid cloud strategy is one great way for businesses to meet market expectations while positioning themselves for future success.
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Interested, he talked to a counselor to learn more about P-TECH, an early college program where he could earn an associate’s degree along with his high school diploma. Liking the sound of the program, he enrolled in the inaugural P-TECH class as a freshman at Longmont’s Skyline High School.
“I really loved working on computers, even before P-TECH,” he said. “I was a hobbyist. P-TECH gave me a pathway.”
IBM hired him as a cybersecurity analyst once he completed the apprenticeship.
“P-TECH has given me a great advantage,” he said. “Without it, I would have been questioning whether to go into college. Having a college degree at 18 is great to put on a resume.”
Litow’s idea was to get more underrepresented young people into tech careers by giving them a direct path to college while in high school — and in turn create a pipeline of employees with the job skills businesses were starting to value over four-year college degrees.
The program, which includes mentors and internships provided by business partners, gives high school students up to six years to earn an associate's degree at no cost.
In Colorado, St. Vrain Valley was among the first school districts chosen by the state to offer a P-TECH program after the Legislature passed a bill to provide funding — and the school district has embraced the program.
Colorado’s first P-TECH programs started in the fall of 2016 at three high schools, including Skyline High. Over the last six years, 17 more Colorado high schools have adopted P-TECH, for at total of 20. Three of those are in St. Vrain Valley, with a fourth planned to open in the fall of 2023 at Longmont High School.
Each St. Vrain Valley high school offers a different focus supported by different industry partners.
Skyline partners with IBM, with students earning an associate’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Front Range. Along with being the first, Skyline’s program is the largest, enrolling up to 55 new freshmen each year.
Programs at the other schools are capped at 35 students per grade.
Frederick High’s program, which started in the fall of 2019, has a bioscience focus, partners with Aims Community College and works with industry partners Agilent Technologies, Tolmar, KBI Biopharma, AGC Biologics and Corden Pharma.
Silver Creek High’s program started a year ago with a cybersecurity focus. The Longmont school partners with Front Range and works with industry partners Seagate, Cisco, PEAK Resources and Comcast.
The new program coming to Longmont High will focus on business.
District leaders point to Skyline High’s graduation statistics to illustrate the program’s success. At Skyline, 100 percent of students in the first three P-TECH graduating classes earned a high school diploma in four years.
For the 2020 Skyline P-TECH graduates, 24 of the 33, or about 70 percent, also earned associate’s degrees. For the 2021 graduating class, 30 of the 47 have associate’s degrees — with one year left for those students to complete the college requirements.
For the most latest 2022 graduates, who have two years left to complete the college requirements, 19 of 59 have associate’s degrees and another six are on track to earn their degrees by the end of the summer.
Louise March, Skyline High’s P-TECH counselor, keeps in touch with the graduates, saying 27 are working part time or full time at IBM. About a third are continuing their education at a four year college. Of the 19 who graduated in 2022 with an associate’s degree, 17 are enrolling at a four year college, she said.
Two of those 2022 graduates are Anahi Sarmiento, who is headed to the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, and Jose Ivarra, who will study computer science at Colorado State University.
“I’m the oldest out of three siblings,” Ivarra said. “When you hear that someone wants to give you free college in high school, you take it. I jumped at the opportunity.”
Sarmiento added that her parents, who are immigrants, are already working two jobs and don’t have extra money for college costs.
“P-TECH is pushing me forward,” she said. “I know my parents want me to have a better life, but I want them to have a better life, too. Going into high school, I kept that mentality that I would push myself to my full potential. It kept me motivated.”
While the program requires hard work, the two graduates said, they still enjoyed high school and had outside interests. Ivarra was a varsity football player who was named player of the year. Sarmiento took advantage of multiple opportunities, from helping elementary students learn robotics to working at the district’s Innovation Center.
Ivarra said he likes that P-TECH has the same high expectations for all students, no matter their backgrounds, and gives them support in any areas where they need help. Spanish is his first language and, while math came naturally, language arts was more challenging.
“It was tough for me to see all these classmates use all these big words, and I didn’t know them,” he said. “I just felt less. When I went into P-TECH, the teachers focus on you so much, checking on every single student.”
They said it’s OK to struggle or even fail. Ivarra said he failed a tough class during the pandemic, but was able to retake it and passed. Both credited March, their counselor, with providing unending support as they navigated high school and college classes.
“She’s always there for you,” Sarmiento said. “It’s hard to be on top of everything. You have someone to go to.”
Students also supported each other.
“You build bonds,” Ivarra said. “You’re all trying to figure out these classes. You grow together. It’s a bunch of people who want to succeed. The people that surround you in P-TECH, they push you to be better.”
P-TECH has no entrance requirements or prerequisite classes. You don’t need to be a top student, have taken advanced math or have a background in technology.
With students starting the rigorous program with a wide range of skills, teachers and counselors said, they quickly figured out the program needed stronger support systems.
March said freshmen in the first P-TECH class struggled that first semester, prompting the creation of a guided study class. The every other day, hour-and-a-half class includes both study time and time to learn workplace skills, including writing a resume and interviewing. Teachers also offer tutoring twice a week after school.
“The guided study has become crucial to the success of the program,” March said.
Another way P-TECH provides extra support is through summer orientation programs for incoming freshmen.
At Skyline, ninth graders take a three-week bridge class — worth half a credit — that includes learning good study habits. They also meet IBM mentors and take a field trip to Front Range Community College.
“They get their college ID before they get their high school ID,” March said.
During a session in June, 15 IBM mentors helped the students program a Sphero robot to travel along different track configurations. Kathleen Schuster, who has volunteered as an IBM mentor since the P-TECH program started here, said she wants to “return some of the favors I got when I was younger.”
“Even this play stuff with the Spheros, it’s teaching them teamwork and a little computing,” she said. “Hopefully, through P-TECH, they will learn what it takes to work in a tech job.”
Incoming Skyline freshman Blake Baker said he found a passion for programming at Trail Ridge Middle and saw P-TECH as a way to capitalize on that passion.
“I really love that they give you options and a path,” he said.
Trail Ridge classmate Itzel Pereyra, another programming enthusiast, heard about P-TECH from her older brother.
“It’s really good for my future,” she said. “It’s an exciting moment, starting the program. It will just help you with everything.”
While some of the incoming ninth graders shared dreams of technology careers, others see P-TECH as a good foundation to pursue other dreams.
Skyline incoming ninth grader Marisol Sanchez wants to become a traveling nurse, demonstrating technology and new skills to other nurses. She added that the summer orientation sessions are a good introduction, helping calm the nerves that accompany combining high school and college.
“There’s a lot of team building,” she said. “It’s getting us all stronger together as a group and introducing everyone.”
Silver Creek’s June camp for incoming ninth graders included field trips to visit Cisco, Seagate, PEAK Resources, Comcast and Front Range Community College.
During the Front Range Community College field trip, the students heard from Front Range staff members before going on a scavenger hunt. Groups took photos to prove they completed tasks, snapping pictures of ceramic pieces near the art rooms, the most expensive tech product for sale in the bookstore and administrative offices across the street from the main building.
Emma Horton, an incoming freshman, took a cybersecurity class as a Flagstaff Academy eighth grader that hooked her on the idea of technology as a career.
“I’m really excited about the experience I will be getting in P-TECH,’ she said. “I’ve never been super motivated in school, but with something I’m really interested in, it becomes easier.”
Deb Craven, dean of instruction at Front Range’s Boulder County campus, promised the Silver Creek students that the college would support them. She also gave them some advice.
“You need to advocate and ask for help,” she said. “These two things are going to help you the most. Be present, be engaged, work together and lean on each other.”
Craven, who oversees Front Range’s P-TECH program partnership, said Front Range leaders toured the original P-TECH program in New York along with St. Vrain and IBM leaders in preparation for bringing P-TECH here.
“Having IBM as a partner as we started the program was really helpful,” she said.
When the program began, she said, freshmen took a more advanced technology class as their first college class. Now, she said, they start with a more fundamental class in the spring of their freshman year, learning how to build a computer.
“These guys have a chance to grow into the high school environment before we stick them in a college class,” she said.
Summer opportunities aren’t just for P-TECH’s freshmen. Along with summer internships, the schools and community colleges offer summer classes.
Silver Creek incoming 10th graders, for example, could take a personal financial literacy class at Silver Creek in the mornings and an introduction to cybersecurity class at the Innovation Center in the afternoons in June.
Over at Skyline, incoming 10th graders in P-TECH are getting paid to teach STEM lessons to elementary students while earning high school credit. Students in the fifth or sixth year of the program also had the option of taking computer science and algebra classes at Front Range.
And at Frederick, incoming juniors are taking an introduction to manufacturing class at the district's Career Elevation and Technology Center this month in preparation for an advanced manufacturing class they’re taking in the fall.
“This will give them a head start for the fall,” said instructor Chester Clark.
Incoming Frederick junior Destini Johnson said she’s not sure what she wants to do after high school, but believes the opportunities offered by P-TECH will prepare her for the future.
“I wanted to try something challenging, and getting a head start on college can only help,” she said. “It’s really incredible that I’m already halfway done with an associate’s degree and high school.”
IBM P-TECH program manager Tracy Knick, who has worked with the Skyline High program for three years, said it takes a strong commitment from all the partners — the school district, IBM and Front Range — to make the program work.
“It’s not an easy model,” she said. “When you say there are no entrance requirements, we all have to be OK with that and support the students to be successful.”
IBM hosted 60 St. Vrain interns this summer, while two Skyline students work as IBM “co-ops” — a national program — to assist with the P-TECH program.
The company hosts two to four formal events for the students each year to work on professional and technical skills, while IBM mentors provide tutoring in algebra. During the pandemic, IBM also paid for subscriptions to tutor.com so students could get immediate help while taking online classes.
“We want to get them truly workforce ready,” Knick said. “They’re not IBM-only skills we’re teaching. Even though they choose a pathway, they can really do anything.”
As the program continues to expand in the district, she said, her wish is for more businesses to recognize the value of P-TECH.
“These students have had intensive training on professional skills,” she said. “They have taken college classes enhanced with the same digital credentials that an IBM employee can learn. There should be a waiting list of employers for these really talented and skilled young professionals.”
©2022 the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
According to the 2022 IBM Institute for Business Value study on AI Ethics in Action, building trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (AI) is perceived as a strategic differentiator and organizations are beginning to implement AI ethics mechanisms.
Seventy-five percent of respondents believe that ethics is a source of competitive differentiation. More than 67% of respondents who view AI and AI ethics as important indicate that their organizations outperform their peers in sustainability, social responsibility, and diversity and inclusion.
The survey showed that 79% of CEOs are prepared to embed AI ethics into their AI practices, up from 20% in 2018, but less than a quarter of responding organizations have operationalized AI ethics. Less than 20% of respondents strongly agreed that their organization's practices and actions match (or exceed) their stated principles and values.
Peter Bernard, CEO of Datagration, says that understanding AI gives companies an advantage, but Bernard adds that explainable AI allows businesses to optimize their data.
"Not only are they able to explain and understand the AI/ML behind predictions, but when errors arise, they can understand where to go back and make improvements," said Bernard. "A deeper understanding of AI/ML allows businesses to know whether their AI/ML is making valuable predictions or whether they should be improved."
Bernard believes this can ensure incorrect data is spotted early on and stopped before decisions are made.
Avivah Litan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, says that explainable AI also furthers scientific discovery as scientists and other business users can explore what the AI model does in various circumstances.
"They can work with the models directly instead of relying only on what predictions are generated given a certain set of inputs," said Litan.
But John Thomas, Vice President and Distinguished Engineer in IBM Expert Labs, says at its very basic level, explainable AI are the methods and processes for helping us understand a model's output. "In other words, it's the effort to build AI that can explain to designers and users why it made the decision it did based on the data that was put into it," said Thomas.
Thomas says there are many reasons why explainable AI is urgently needed.
"One reason is model drift. Over time as more and more data is fed into a given model, this new data can influence the model in ways you may not have intended," said Thomas. "If we can understand why an AI is making certain decisions, we can do much more to keep its outputs consistent and trustworthy over its lifecycle."
Thomas adds that at a practical level, we can use explainable AI to make models more accurate and refined in the first place. "As AI becomes more embedded in our lives in more impactful ways, [..] we're going to need not only governance and regulatory tools to protect consumers from adverse effects, we're going to need technical solutions as well," said Thomas.
"AI is becoming more pervasive, yet most organizations cannot interpret or explain what their models are doing," said Litan. "And the increasing dependence on AI escalates the impact of mis-performing AI models with severely negative consequences," said Litan.
Bernard takes it back to a practical level, saying that explainable AI [..] creates proof of what senior engineers and experts "know" intuitively and explaining the reasoning behind it simultaneously. "Explainable AI can also take commonly held beliefs and prove that the data does not back it up," said Bernard.
"Explainable AI lets us troubleshoot how an AI is making decisions and interpreting data is an extremely important tool in helping us ensure AI is helping everyone, not just a narrow few," said Thomas.
Hiring is an example of where explainable AI can help everyone.
Thomas says hiring managers deal with all kinds of hiring and talent shortages and usually get more applications than they can read thoroughly. This means there is a strong demand to be able to evaluate and screen applicants algorithmically.
"Of course, we know this can introduce bias into hiring decisions, as well as overlook a lot of people who might be compelling candidates with unconventional backgrounds," said Thomas. "Explainable AI is an ideal solution for these sorts of problems because it would allow you to understand why a model rejected a certain applicant and accepted another. It helps you make your make model better.”
IBM's AI Ethics survey showed that 85% of IT professionals agree that consumers are more likely to choose a company that's transparent about how its AI models are built, managed and used.
Thomas says explainable AI is absolutely a response to concerns about understanding and being able to trust AI's results.
"There's a broad consensus among people using AI that you need to take steps to explain how you're using it to customers and consumers," said Thomas. "At the same time, the field of AI Ethics as a practice is relatively new, so most companies, even large ones, don't have a Head of AI ethics, and they don't have the skills they need to build an ethics panel in-house."
Thomas believes it's essential that companies begin thinking about building those governance structures. "But there also a need for technical solutions that can help companies manage their use of AI responsibly," said Thomas.
Bernard points to the oil and gas industry as why explainable AI is necessary.
"Oil and gas have [..] a level of engineering complexity, and very few industries apply engineering and data at such a deep and constant level like this industry," said Bernard. "From the reservoir to the surface, every aspect is an engineering challenge with millions of data points and different approaches."
Bernard says in this industry, operators and companies still utilize spreadsheets and other home-grown systems-built decades ago. "Utilizing ML enables them to take siloed knowledge, Strengthen it and create something transferrable across the organization, allowing consistency in decision making and process."
"When oil and gas companies can perform more efficiently, it is a win for everyone," said Bernard. "The companies see the impact in their bottom line by producing more from their existing assets, lowering environmental impact, and doing more with less manpower."
Bernard says this leads to more supply to help ease the burden on demand. "Even modest increases like 10% improvement in production can have a massive impact in supply, the more production we have [..] consumers will see relief at the pump."
But Litan says the trend toward explainable AI is mainly driven by regulatory compliance.
In a 2021 Gartner survey, AI in Organizations reported that regulatory compliance is the top reason privacy, security and risk are barriers to AI implementation.
"Regulators are demanding AI model transparency and proof that models are not generating biased decisions and unfair 'irresponsible' policies," said Litan. "AI privacy, security and/or risk management starts with AI explainability, which is a required baseline."
Litan says Gartner sees the biggest uptake of explainable AI in regulated industries like healthcare and financial services. "But we also see it increasingly with technology service providers that use AI models, notably in security or other scenarios," said Litan.
Litan adds that another reason explainable AI is trending is that organizations are unprepared to manage AI risks and often cut corners around model governance. "Organizations that adopt AI trust, risk and security management – which starts with inventorying AI models and explaining them – get better business results," adds Litan.
But IBM's Thomas doesn't think you can parse the uptake of explainable AI by industry.
"What makes a company interested in explainable AI isn't necessarily the industry they're in; they're invested in AI in the first place," said Thomas. "IT professionals at businesses deploying AI are 17% more likely to report that their business values AI explainability. Once you get beyond exploration and into the deployment phase, explaining what your models are doing and why quickly becomes very important to you."
Thomas says that IBM sees some compelling use cases in specific industries starting with medical research.
"There is a lot of excitement about the potential for AI to accelerate the pace of discovery by making medical research easier," said Thomas. "But, even if AI can do a lot of heavy lifting, there is still skepticism among doctors and researchers about the results."
Thomas says explainable AI has been a powerful solution to that particular problem, allowing researchers to embrace AI modeling to help them solve healthcare-related challenges because they can refine their models, control for bias and monitor the results.
"That trust makes it much easier for them to build models more quickly and feel comfortable using them to inform their care for patients," said Thomas.
IBM worked with Highmark Health to build a model using claims data to model sepsis and COVID-19 risk. But again, Thomas adds that because it's a tool for refining and monitoring how your AI models perform, explainable AI shouldn't be restricted to any particular industry or use case.
"We have airlines who use explainable AI to ensure their AI is doing a good job predicting plane departure times. In financial services and insurance, companies are using explainable AI to make sure they are making fair decisions about loan rates and premiums," said Thomas. "This is a technical component that will be critical for anyone getting serious about using AI at scale, regardless of what industry they are in."
What does the future look like with AI ethics and explainable AI?
Thomas says the hope is that explainable AI will spread and see adoption because that will be a sign companies take trustworthy AI, both the governance and the technical components, very seriously.
He also sees explainable AI as essential guardrails for AI Ethics down the road.
"When we started putting seatbelts in cars, a lot more people started driving, but we also saw fewer and less severe accidents," said Thomas. "That's the obvious hope - that we can make the benefits of this new technology much more widely available while also taking the needed steps to ensure we are not introducing unanticipated consequences or harms."
One of the most significant factors working against the adoption of AI and its productivity gains is the genuine need to address concerns about how AI is used, what types of data are being collected about people, and whether AI will put them out of a job.
But Thomas says that worry is contrary to what’s happening today. "AI is augmenting what humans can accomplish, from helping researchers conduct studies faster to assisting bankers in designing fairer and more efficient loans to helping technicians inspect and fix equipment more quickly," said Thomas. "Explainable AI is one of the most important ways we are helping consumers understand that, so a user can say with a much greater degree of certainty that no, this AI isn't introducing bias, and here's exactly why and what this model is really doing."
One tangible example IBM uses is AI Factsheets in their IBM Cloud Pak for Data. IBM describes the factsheets as 'nutrition labels' for AI, which allows them to list the types of data and algorithms that make up a particular in the same way a food item lists its ingredients.
"To achieve trustworthy AI at scale, it takes more than one company or organization to lead the charge,” said Thomas. “AI should come from a diversity of datasets, diversity in practitioners, and a diverse partner ecosystem so that we have continuous feedback and improvement.”
I believe that the last two decades in enterprise computing has been the prequel to the main act to follow. In this main act, the winners will be enterprises willing to change, to question everything, to leverage the latest in digital innovation to scale the impact of AI, Hybrid Cloud and automation on every aspect of their business.
The Covid pandemic disrupted business-as-usual for most companies, and several spined to digital technology, containing AI, to sustain operations. Earlier this year, IBM launched a study that revealed the size of the AI skills gap across Europe that found the tech sector is struggling to find employees with adequate AI knowledge or experience. The research found nearly 7 in 10 tech job seekers and tech employees believe that potential recruits lack the skills necessary for a career in AI. The impact of this deficit has the potential to stifle digital innovation and hold back economic growth.
Mind the gap
The IBM report, ‘Addressing the AI Skills Gap in Europe’, exposed a worrying shortfall in skills required for a career in AI. Although technical capabilities are vital for a career in the sector, problem solving is considered the most critical soft skill needed for tech roles among all survey participants (up to 37%). However, around a quarter of tech recruiters (23%) have difficulty finding applicants with this aptitude along with shortfalls in critical and strategic thinking. Along with soft skills, 40% of tech job seekers and employees noted that software engineering and knowledge of programming languages are the most important technical capabilities for the AI/tech workforce to have.
How to address the issue
As AI moves into the mainstream, specialist tech staff are working more closely than ever with business managers. In order to secure the best possible outcomes, the soft skills of interpersonal communication, strategic problem solving, and critical thinking are required across all disciplines to help ensure the most beneficial personal interactions. Demonstrating these skills can greatly Strengthen employability and career developments in AI.
The report showed that offering education and skills training is seen as a top priority for many companies looking to Strengthen AI recruitment in the future. As a result, IBM have already taken proactive steps to help applicants and employees enhance their AI skills.
IBM launched IBM SkillsBuild, which brings together two world-class, skills-based learning programs—"Open P-TECH" and "SkillsBuild"—under one umbrella. Through the program, students, educators, job seekers, and the organisations that support them have access to free digital learning, resources, and support focused on the core technology and workplace skills needed to succeed in jobs. SkillsBuild is a free programme which contains an AI skills module for secondary education students and adults seeking entry-level employment.
Further concerted effort
A great deal remains to be done to solve this skills gap. However, I believe we can agree that a solution is achievable. What’s required now is for industry, government and academia to work together to put existing ideas into practice and to think of new ways to solve the challenge. At the start of the year, the DCMS announced £23 million of government funding to create 2,000 scholarships in AI and data science in England. The new scholarships from this funding will ensure more people can build successful careers in AI, create and develop new and bigger businesses, and will Strengthen the diversity of this growing and innovative sector. I hope to see further investment and programs such as ours with SkillsBuild as key drivers in change. Finding solutions and initiatives such as these will ensure we are providing a significant boost for the UK while providing a rewarding career for many.
This article was authored by Sreeram Visvanathan, Chief Executive of IBM UK and Ireland
India’s ‘techade’ will witness several business trends accelerate, from hybrid workplace to contactless delivery. To transform and keep pace with these trends, businesses will need to become more agile and responsive to the market. This business imperative is making hybrid cloud the prevalent IT architecture. A hybrid cloud architecture combines best-of-breed cloud services and functionality from multiple cloud vendors, flexibility in choosing optimal cloud computing environments for each workload and moving those workloads freely between public and private cloud as circumstances change.
Organizations are finding great value from the early stages of hybrid cloud adoption for improving product and service delivery while fostering innovation. In fact, a latest IBM Institute for Business Value study estimates the value of hybrid cloud investments multiplies up to 13x on average when combined with other levers of transformation. This is why 99% of organizations in India are now using varied combinations of hybrid cloud architecture.
However, the question to ask is, are we adopting the right strategy to make the most of this opportunity? Here are five major challenges in the way of hybrid cloud mastery, which organizations must pay special attention to leverage its full potential.
Architecture that provides a suite of cloud services
During the pandemic, several companies in India had to adopt new hybrid cloud architectures at speed, assembling public, private and on-premises environments without proper integration. There was no organised structure or platform to bind them. Mastering hybrid cloud will require integrating cloud assets with a clear vision, starting with a hybrid cloud platform architecture that defines a “fabric” of cloud services across multiple environments.
A modern hybrid cloud infrastructure is starting to coalesce around a unified hybrid multi-cloud platform that includes support for cloud native application development, a single operating system and automating the deployment of applications across all cloud environments.
For instance, Bharti Airtel has built a telco network cloud using hybrid cloud and cognitive enterprise capabilities to deliver a better customer experience through enhanced network performance, improved availability, operations automation and scaling the network to the edge.
Breaking the silos
Indian companies are facing a shortage of talent, which makes it difficult to cover all areas of cloud management. Moreover, they are faced with a lack of a single infrastructure for seamless work experience which leads to work getting done in silos. Mastering hybrid cloud requires employees with critical cloud skills to do their work effectively in an integrated way across a common hybrid cloud operating model. To do it right, organizations should design operating models for incorporating cloud native, efficient, and connected working practices across the hybrid environment, addressing gaps in skills, talent, and experience.
Scale with security
Security has always been a key concern for organizations on their digitization journey, but with unintegrated cloud architecture the risk is greater, leading to data breaches, financial impact, reputational damage, regulatory enforcement actions and more. Organizations need to adopt a security-aware and security-first culture, ensuring robust security protocols and capabilities across the hybrid platform in a consistent way. For example, in a hybrid cloud architecture, you can reserve behind-the firewall private cloud resources for sensitive data and highly regulated workloads and use more economical public cloud resources for less-sensitive workloads and data. This allows organizations to foresee any potential threats across operations and mitigate them.
Maximizing returns on cloud investment
Managing cloud investments becomes very difficult when costs rise or are unpredictable. In certain cases, the cost of moving the data could go as high as 50%. In a hybrid cloud environment, organizations can manage their cloud cost through a single window to assess how cloud services are disbursed across the whole enterprise, allowing them to optimise the cloud cost by directly matching it with business priorities.
The Godrej Group, for example, has deployed cloud solutions which are expected to help them save 10% on the total cost of ownership over a period of five years, along with zero security incidents and a 100% increase in disaster recovery coverage.
Unlocking value with partner ecosystem
Deploying hybrid cloud often requires a whole ecosystem of partners, whether external or internal, who come with their own competing interests. Mastering hybrid cloud requires getting these naturally competing interests to embrace open innovation and co-creation through an aligned strategy to deliver a successful program.
To conclude, Indian organizations need to take a closer look at their hybrid cloud journey. Consider the five challenges and determine actions required to course correct. Not every organization will have a templatized approach to adopting hybrid cloud. They need to find a sweet spot between building hybrid cloud capabilities and the roadmap for better business performance in a software-driven world. Once mastered, businesses will create new value propositions and become a lever of innovation in the techade.
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The “2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report” found 60 percent of studied organizations raised their product or services prices because of a breach. The report analyzed 550 organizations that suffered a data breach between March 2021 and March 2022, with research conducted by the Ponemon Institute.
IBM has studied data breaches in the United States the last 17 years. In 2021, the average cost of a breach was $4.24 million.
New to this year’s report was a look at the effects of supply chain compromises and the security skills gap. While organizations that were breached because of a supply chain compromise were relatively low (19 percent), the average total cost of such a breach was $4.46 million.
The average time to identify and contain a supply chain compromise was 303 days, opposed to the global average of 277 days.
The study found the average data breach cost savings of a sufficiently staffed organization was $550,000, but only 38 percent of studied organizations said their security team was sufficiently staffed.
Of note, the “Cost of Compliance Report 2022” published by Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence earlier this month found staff shortages have been driven by rising salaries, tightening budgets, and personal liability increases.
The IBM study included 13 companies that experienced data breaches involving the loss or theft of 1 million to 60 million records. The average total cost for breaches of 50-60 million records was $387 million, a slight decline from $401 million in 2021.
For a second year, the study examined how deploying a “zero trust” security framework has a net positive impact on data breach costs, with savings of approximately $1 million for organizations that implemented one. However, only 41 percent of organizations surveyed deployed a zero trust security architecture.
Organizations with mature deployment of zero trust applied consistently across all domains saved more than $1.5 million on average, according to the survey.
Almost 80 percent of critical infrastructure organizations that did not adopt a zero trust strategy saw average breach costs rise to $5.4 million.
The study also found it doesn’t pay to pay hackers, with only $610,000 less in average breach costs compared to businesses that chose not to pay ransomware threat actors.
Organizations that fully deployed a security artificial intelligence and automation incurred $3.05 million less on average in breach costs compared to those that did not, the biggest saver observed in the study.
“Businesses need to put their security defenses on the offense and beat attackers to the punch,” said Charles Henderson, global head of IBM Security X-Force, in a press release announcing the study. “It’s time to stop the adversary from achieving their objectives and start to minimize the impact of attacks.”
“Today, we have reached a point where cyberattacks are evolving into market stressors, hurting the economy. 60% of global businesses have raised their prices as a result of the data breach, contributing to inflation, and inadvertently passing the cost on to customers. Hackers are exploiting these circumstances to force organizations to pay ransoms, which is further compounded by the cyber skills shortage. Essentially, this is all leading to the creation of a “cyber tax” – where businesses can pass some of the costs of a breach on to the consumer,” said Viswanath Ramaswamy, Vice President, Technology, IBM Technology Sales, IBM India and South Asia.
The global average cost of a data breach reached an all-time high of $4.35 million for surveyed organizations.
Average per record cost of a data breach Rs 6,100
Average records breached in 2022: 29,500
60% of breached businesses raised product prices post-breach; vast majority of critical infrastructure lagging in zero trust adoption; $550,000 in extra costs for insufficiently staffed businesses
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 27, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) Security today released the annual Cost of a Data Breach Report,1 revealing costlier and higher-impact data breaches than ever before, with the global average cost of a data breach reaching an all-time high of $4.35 million for studied organizations. With breach costs increasing nearly 13% over the last two years of the report, the findings suggest these incidents may also be contributing to rising costs of goods and services. In fact, 60% of studied organizations raised their product or services prices due to the breach, when the cost of goods is already soaring worldwide amid inflation and supply chain issues.
The perpetuality of cyberattacks is also shedding light on the "haunting effect" data breaches are having on businesses, with the IBM report finding 83% of studied organizations have experienced more than one data breach in their lifetime. Another factor rising over time is the after-effects of breaches on these organizations, which linger long after they occur, as nearly 50% of breach costs are incurred more than a year after the breach.
The 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report is based on in-depth analysis of real-world data breaches experienced by 550 organizations globally between March 2021 and March 2022. The research, which was sponsored and analyzed by IBM Security, was conducted by the Ponemon Institute.
Some of the key findings in the 2022 IBM report include:
"Businesses need to put their security defenses on the offense and beat attackers to the punch. It's time to stop the adversary from achieving their objectives and start to minimize the impact of attacks. The more businesses try to perfect their perimeter instead of investing in detection and response, the more breaches can fuel cost of living increases." said Charles Henderson, Global Head of IBM Security X-Force. "This report shows that the right strategies coupled with the right technologies can help make all the difference when businesses are attacked."
Over-trusting Critical Infrastructure Organizations
Concerns over critical infrastructure targeting appear to be increasing globally over the past year, with many governments' cybersecurity agencies urging vigilance against disruptive attacks. In fact, IBM's report reveals that ransomware and destructive attacks represented 28% of breaches amongst critical infrastructure organizations studied, highlighting how threat actors are seeking to fracture the global supply chains that rely on these organizations. This includes financial services, industrial, transportation and healthcare companies amongst others.
Despite the call for caution, and a year after the Biden Administration issued a cybersecurity executive order that centers around the importance of adopting a zero trust approach to strengthen the nation's cybersecurity, only 21% of critical infrastructure organizations studied adopt a zero trust security model, according to the report. Add to that, 17% of breaches at critical infrastructure organizations were caused due to a business partner being initially compromised, highlighting the security risks that over-trusting environments pose.
Businesses that Pay the Ransom Aren't Getting a "Bargain"
According to the 2022 IBM report, businesses that paid threat actors' ransom demands saw $610,000 less in average breach costs compared to those that chose not to pay – not including the ransom amount paid. However, when accounting for the average ransom payment, which according to Sophos reached $812,000 in 2021, businesses that opt to pay the ransom could net higher total costs - all while inadvertently funding future ransomware attacks with capital that could be allocated to remediation and recovery efforts and looking at potential federal offenses.
The persistence of ransomware, despite significant global efforts to impede it, is fueled by the industrialization of cybercrime. IBM Security X-Force discovered the duration of studied enterprise ransomware attacks shows a drop of 94% over the past three years – from over two months to just under four days. These exponentially shorter attack lifecycles can prompt higher impact attacks, as cybersecurity incident responders are left with very short windows of opportunity to detect and contain attacks. With "time to ransom" dropping to a matter of hours, it's essential that businesses prioritize rigorous testing of incident response (IR) playbooks ahead of time. But the report states that as many as 37% of organizations studied that have incident response plans don't test them regularly.
Hybrid Cloud Advantage
The report also showcased hybrid cloud environments as the most prevalent (45%) infrastructure amongst organizations studied. Averaging $3.8 million in breach costs, businesses that adopted a hybrid cloud model observed lower breach costs compared to businesses with a solely public or private cloud model, which experienced $5.02 million and $4.24 million on average respectively. In fact, hybrid cloud adopters studied were able to identify and contain data breaches 15 days faster on average than the global average of 277 days for participants.
The report highlights that 45% of studied breaches occurred in the cloud, emphasizing the importance of cloud security. However, a significant 43% of reporting organizations stated they are just in the early stages or have not started implementing security practices to protect their cloud environments, observing higher breach costs2. Businesses studied that did not implement security practices across their cloud environments required an average 108 more days to identify and contain a data breach than those consistently applying security practices across all their domains.
Additional findings in the 2022 IBM report include:
About IBM Security
IBM Security offers one of the most advanced and integrated portfolios of enterprise security products and services. The portfolio, supported by world-renowned IBM Security X-Force® research, enables organizations to effectively manage risk and defend against emerging threats. IBM operates one of the world's broadest security research, development, and delivery organizations, monitors 150 billion+ security events per day in more than 130 countries, and has been granted more than 10,000 security patents worldwide. For more information, please check www.ibm.com/security, follow @IBMSecurity on Twitter or visit the IBM Security Intelligence blog.
IBM Security Communications
1 Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022, conducted by Ponemon Institute, sponsored, and analyzed by IBM
2 Average cost of $4.53M, compared to average cost $3.87 million at participating organizations with mature-stage cloud security practices
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