IBM Cloud Delivers Quantum-Safe Cryptography and Hyper Protect Crypto Services to Help Protect Data in the Hybrid Era

IBM brings hybrid cloud leadership together with quantum and security research expertise to stay at the forefront of quantum cybersecurity

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 30, 2020 — IBM today announced a series of cloud services and technologies designed to help clients maintain the highest available level of cryptographic key encryption protection to help protect existing data in the cloud1 and prepare for future threats that could evolve with advances in quantum computing. Pioneered by IBM Research scientists, the company is now offering quantum-safe cryptography support for key management and application transactions in IBM Cloud®, making it the industry’s most holistic quantum-safe cryptography approach to securing data available today.

The new capabilities include:

  • Quantum Safe Cryptography Support: Through the use of open standards and open source technology, this service enhances the standards used to transmit data between enterprise and Cloud, helping to secure data by using a quantum-safe algorithm.
  • Extended IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Crypto Services: New capabilities are available to enhance privacy of data in cloud applications, where data sent over the network to cloud applications and sensitive data elements like credit card numbers, are stored in a database that can be encrypted at application-level – supported by the industry’s highest level of cryptographic key encryption protection with ‘Keep Your Own Key’ (KYOK) capability.

“As our reliance on data grows in the era of hybrid cloud and quantum computing capabilities advance, the need for data privacy is becoming even more critical. IBM now offers the most holistic quantum-safe approach to securing data available today and to help enterprises protect existing data and help protect against future threats,” said Hillery Hunter, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, IBM Cloud. “Security and compliance remain front and center for IBM Cloud as we continue to invest in confidential computing and our leading encryption capabilities to help enterprises of all kinds – especially those in highly regulated industries – keep data secured.”

Preparing for future threats with Quantum-Safe Cryptography Support
While quantum computing aims to solve complex problems even the world’s most powerful supercomputers cannot solve, future fault-tolerant quantum computers could pose potential risks, such as the ability to quickly break encryption algorithms and access sensitive data. To mitigate these risks IBM has developed a clear strategic agenda to help protect the long term security of our platforms and services. This agenda includes the research, development and standardization of core quantum-safe cryptography algorithms as open source tools such as CRYSTALS and OpenQuantumSafe. It also includes the governance, tools and technology to support our clients as they start on the same journey to a more secure future.

Today, as the next step in that agenda, IBM is bringing its industry-leading encryption capabilities built by IBM Research cryptographers to help clients with a quantum-safe cryptography approach for their data-in-transit within IBM Cloud. The capabilities are designed to help enterprises prepare for future threats and can be useful against attacks in which malicious actors harvest encrypted data today with the intent to decrypt it later as quantum computing advances.

IBM Key Protect, a cloud-based service that provides lifecycle management for encryption keys that are used in IBM Cloud services or client-built applications, has now introduced the ability to use a quantum-safe cryptography enabled Transport Layer Security (TLS) connection – helping to protect data during the key lifecycle management.

In addition, IBM Cloud is also introducing quantum-safe cryptography support capabilities to enable application transactions. When cloud native containerized applications run on Red Hat® OpenShift® on IBM Cloud or IBM Cloud Kubernetes Services, secured TLS connections can help application transactions with quantum-safe cryptography support during data-in-transit and protect from potential breaches.

Protecting sensitive data with IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Crypto Services
Enterprises also need to mitigate risks from external and internal threats, as well as to address regulatory compliance.

Today, IBM Cloud is also delivering new capabilities to help secure application transactions and sensitive data using IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Crypto Services, which offer the industry’s highest level of cryptographic key encryption protection by providing customers with ‘Keep Your Own Key’ (KYOK) capability. Built on FIPS-140-2 Level 4-certified hardware – the highest level of security offered by any cloud provider in the industry for cryptographic modules – this allows clients to have exclusive key control, and therefore authority over the data and workloads protected by the keys.

Designed for application transactions where there is a deeper need for more advanced cryptography, IBM Cloud clients can keep their private keys secured within the cloud hardware security module while offloading TLS to IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Crypto Services to help establish a secure connection to the web server. They can also achieve application-level encryption of sensitive data, such as a credit card number, before it gets stored in a database system.

Continuing to address the security demands of clients and highly regulated industries
IBM has been investing in confidential computing technologies for over a decade and today delivers production-ready confidential computing to help clients protect data, applications and processes.

Furthering its commitment to security and compliance, IBM continues to collaborate with its industry peers to make further progress in standardization initiatives. For example, security best practices on IBM Cloud are now available as a Center for Internet Security (CIS) Foundations benchmark for IBM Cloud, and IBM Research cryptographers are key contributors to the QSC algorithms that are short listed in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

IBM to Acquire Instana as Company Continues to Advance its Hybrid Cloud and AI Strategy

– Acquisition to help businesses use AI to better manage complexity of modern applications that span hybrid cloud landscape; Builds on IBM’s industry-leading AI-powered automation capabilities

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 18, 2020 — IBM today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Instana, an application performance monitoring and observability company. The acquisition will help businesses better manage the complexity of modern applications that span the hybrid cloud landscape. Today’s news further advances IBM’s Hybrid Cloud and AI strategy and strengthens its AI-powered automation capabilities. Financial details were not disclosed.

With the acquisition of Instana, IBM will help companies overcome the challenge of managing application performance across multiple teams, and across 2 to 15 clouds, on average.i And it is another example of how IBM is building on its AI-powered automation capabilities, including:

–  the launch of IBM Watson AIOps earlier this year, IBM’s AI offering for automating how enterprises self-detect, diagnose and respond to IT anomalies in real time;
–  its acquisition of WDG Automation to provide clients with broader access to intelligent automation through software robots;
–  its expanded partnership with ServiceNow to develop a joint solution to help companies reduce operational risk and lower costs by applying AI to automate IT operations;
–  and continued updates to IBM Cloud Pak for Automation designed to help companies drive innovation across their expanding IT environments and accelerate digital transformation.

“Our clients today are faced with managing a complex technology landscape filled with mission-critical applications and data that are running across a variety of hybrid cloud environments – from public clouds, private clouds and on-premises,” said Rob Thomas, Senior Vice President, Cloud and Data Platform, IBM. “IBM’s acquisition of Instana is yet another important step that we are taking to provide companies with the most complete portfolio of AI-automated solutions to tackle this enormous challenge and help prevent unforeseen IT incidents that can cost a business in lost revenue and reputation.”

Headquartered in Chicago, with a development center in Germany, Instana provides businesses with capabilities to manage the performance of complex and modern cloud-native applications no matter where they reside – on mobile devices, public and private clouds and on-premises, including IBM Z.  Instana’s enterprise observability platform automatically builds a deep contextual understanding of cloud applications and provides actionable insights to indicate how to best prevent and remedy IT issues that could damage the business or reduce customer satisfaction — such as slow response times, services that aren’t working or infrastructure that is down.

Once Instana’s capabilities are integrated into IBM, companies will be able to feed these insights into Watson AIOps. The information could then be compared to a baseline of a normal operating application, with AI triggering alerts to resolve issues quickly before negative impacts to that transaction or activity. This can help eliminate the need for IT staff to manually monitor and manage applications, freeing these employees to focus on innovation and higher value work.

“With the added responsibility of ensuring the build and run quality of the software they develop, DevOps teams need a new generation of application performance monitoring and observability capabilities to succeed,” said Mirko Novakovic, co-founder and CEO, Instana. “Instana’s observability capabilities combined with IBM’s AI-powered automation capabilities across hybrid cloud environments will give clients a full view of their application performance to best optimize operations.”

Instana will offer both SaaS and on-premises solutions depending on the client’s unique needs.

Developers can try the Instana offering by utilizing the free sandbox and trials, already available through their website.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. It is expected to close within several months.

COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium Enters New Phase Focused on Helping Researchers to Identify Potential Therapies for Patients

Second phase of operation will prioritize research projects with potential to help patients within the next six months

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 16, 2020 — The COVID-19 High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium, a unique public-private effort to make supercomputing power available to researchers working on projects related to COVID-19, today announced that it has entered into a new phase of operation focused on helping researchers to identify potential near term therapies for patients afflicted by the virus.

In this new phase, the Consortium plans to sharpen its focus on research projects that hold the potential to help improve patient outcomes within a six-month timeframe. This transition is due in part to the fact that there is now a greater volume of COVID-19 data available, creating more possibilities to potentially help patients than when the Consortium was launched in March 2020.

Created by IBM, The White House, and the US Department of Energy, the HPC Consortium brings together computing resources, software and services to help researchers everywhere better understand COVID-19, its treatments and potential cures. The Consortium has 43 members and has received more than 175 research proposals from researchers in more than 15 countries.

In its second phase of operation, the Consortium is particularly, though not exclusively, interested in projects focused on:

  • Understanding and modeling patient response to the virus using large clinical datasets
  • Learning and validating vaccine response models from multiple clinical trials
  • Evaluating combination therapies using repurposed molecules
  • Epidemiological models driven by large multi-modal datasets

“In just eight months, we’ve brought together an unprecedented scale of computing power to support COVID-19 research, and dozens of projects have already utilized these resources,” said Dario Gil, Director of IBM Research. “At this stage, the Consortium partners believe that our combined computing resources now hold the potential to benefit patients in the near-term, as well as offering the potential for longer-term scientific breakthroughs.”

“The Department of Energy is proud to play a significant role towards ending COVID-19,” said Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar. “The second phase of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium can potentially provide tangible results to those affected by the virus, and we look forward to delivering these results to the American people.”

Since its launch, the HPC Consortium has attracted new members from industry, government and academia worldwide. As a result, the Consortium’s computing capacity has almost doubled to 600 petaflops, from 330 petaflops in March. Together, the Consortium has helped support more than 90 research projects including:

  • Understanding How Long Breath Droplets Linger: This research from a team at Utah State University simulated the dynamics of aerosols indoors, offering insight into how long breath droplets linger in the air. They found that droplets from breathing linger in the air much longer than previously thought, due to their small size when compared to droplets from coughing and sneezing.
  • Understanding How COVID-19 Impacts Different Populations Research from a team at Iowa State University on so-called orphan genes could help better understand why African Americans are more vulnerable to COVID-19. They found that a little-studied gene, F8A2, is expressed more in African Americans than European Americans in every tissue studied. Since the gene is believed to be involved in endosome mobility, this could affect COVID-19 infection.
  • Researching Drug Repurposing For Potential Treatments: A project from a team at Michigan State University screened data from about 1,600 FDA-approved drugs to see if there are possible combinations that could help treat COVID-19. They found promise in at least two FDA-approved drugs: proflavine, a disinfectant against many bacteria, and chloroxine, another antibacterial drug.
  • Examining the Potential of Indian Medicinal Plants: Research from India’s Novel Techsciences screened plant-derived natural compounds from 55 Indian medicinal plants to identify compounds with anti-viral properties that could be used against eight SARS-CoV-2 proteins. They found that phytochemicals from plants Withania somnifera and Azadirachta indica show multi-potency against different coronavirus proteins, meaning that they could help fight multi-drug resistance that may arise as the virus evolves

Alpitour World Selects IBM Hybrid Cloud and AI Capabilities For a More Personalized Customer Experience

IBM Services is helping to implement a digital transformation strategy for the global travel company, using IBM Watson and Red Hat OpenShift

ARMONK, N.Y. and MILAN, Nov. 2, 2020 — IBM and Italy’s leading  travel company, Alpitour Group,  announced that it has selected IBM Watson, enabled by hybrid cloud solutions, to modernize existing customer-oriented digital applications and help accelerate the development of new ones to promote a more user-friendly, personalized experience for its clients.

With its five divisions – Tour Operating, Aviation, Hotel Management, Incoming and Travel Agencies – Alpitour Group provides vacation services to millions of travelers worldwide and works with thousands of travel agencies. It has a mission to meet the growing expectations of travelers looking to make the most out of their journey, while also addressing the complex challenges of the sector like the ebb and flow of the travel seasons and the current pandemic.

As part of the solution, Alpitour Group is working with IBM Services to use natural language processing (NLP) solutions from IBM Watson to help develop applications to design and provide more personalized, simpler booking experiences. Using IBM Watson products including Watson Discovery and Watson Natural Language Understanding on IBM Cloud, the solution is aimed to extract the subject and text of each email to help recognize the type of request, capture the main information and classify its content.

With more than two million messages being received by Alpitor annually, the AI solution is expected to process an estimated 80% of those, thereby enabling their employees to focus on effectiveness and efficiency in their responses, with the most complex and priority requests addressed with greater precision and speed. The alliance between AI and IT infrastructure, could help produce a real leap in the delivery of digital services.

“The organized tourism sector has been going through a new phase of transformation for some years now, driven by digital technologies but also by the emergence of an increasingly open and dynamic business model along the entire supply chain: it is the concept of the business-platform, which has in its agility and ability to interconnect with the socio-economic ecosystem in which it operates its distinctive factors,” said Francesco Ciuccarelli, CIO and CTO of Alpitour Group. “This path has been accelerated by the recent crisis, which has made clear the importance of the ability to adapt the elasticity of infrastructure and applications: in a word, resilience. The collaboration with IBM aims to help build this capacity, first by taking charge of legacy infrastructure and applications, then by introducing new enabling technologies, such as Red Hat OpenShift, and finally by using AI in various areas across the Alpitour Group, from contact center to B2C sales.”

Additionally, with the support of IBM Services, Alpitour Group has moved from on-premises environments to hybrid cloud environments, to help gain extra capacity during peak seasons and to create new cloud-native applications that use IBM Watson NLP services. Alpitour Group implemented an open model, based on Red Hat OpenShift – the industry’s leading enterprise Kubernetes platform, designed to help quickly build applications that can be run anywhere, on-premise, on private and any public cloud- according to business needs. The Red Hat environment rests on Alpitour’s infrastructure managed by IBM Services at its Italian data centers and enables applications to scale automatically according to load, be released automatically, avoiding downtime and, with an efficient monitoring system, be quickly able to detect anomalies in individual instances and if necessary, restart them automatically.

“We manage enviable information assets and thanks to the exponential technological enhancements of the last years, the right time has come to draw value from this information,” said Fabio Olgiati, head of AI & Automation competence center of the Alpitour Group. “Dominating the information and no longer being only observers, is a challenging goal that absorbs our full energy. The application of the right AI models in the mail channel, will not only bring added value but it will be the enabling challenge to obtain the complete technological mastery, in order to space on future new channels.”

“Today, companies in all industries operate in an experience-first world, where you can get immense value from data if your confidence in technology and the flexibility that comes with it remain at the core,” said Stefano Rebattoni, Vice President Enterprise Sales at IBM Italy.  “It is with these principles that we continue after more than 10 years to help accompany Alpitour in its innovation process, integrating AI functionality, enabled by Red Hat Openshift platform and enhanced by our infrastructure and business experience to help address current and future challenges in a major sector for our country.”