IBM, Vodafone Business sign $550m agreement

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IBM's Michael Valocchi, (left) and Vodafone Business' Greg Hyttenrauch.
IBM's Michael Valocchi, (left) and Vodafone Business' Greg Hyttenrauch.

IBM and Vodafone Business have signed a $550 million, eight-year partnership agreement that will see IBM offer cloud and hosting services to the telco.

The new venture, according to IBM, aims to prepare organisations in Germany, UK and Ireland for the next wave of digital transformation, by providing Vodafone Business customers with access to the full portfolio of IBM's cloud offerings, accelerating their artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, software-defined networking and edge initiatives.

Vodafone business services and solutions consist of mobile communications, unified communications, cloud and hosting services, carrier services and Internet of things services.

While the companies have collaborated in the past, spanning more than 20 years, the new strategic agreement will help speed up the adoption of cloud technologies and new business applications, they say.

IBM will provide managed services to Vodafone Business' cloud and hosting unit, enabling customers to benefit from IBM's optimisation, automation and cognitive solutions to help them run their business effectively in a cloud environment.

"IBM has built industry-leading hybrid cloud, AI and security capabilities underpinned by deep industry expertise," says 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."

The convergence of multi-cloud and connectivity solutions promises to speed decision-making, enhance automation and personalise experiences for end-users in any location, even some of the most remote areas, according to IBM.

Newly released AI and augmented reality applications from IBM will enable engineers to pinpoint and resolve faults on equipment in minutes, potentially saving millions in lost productivity time, notes the company.

"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 multi-cloud, AI and managed services. Through this new venture, we'll accelerate our growth and deepen engagement with our customers while driving radical simplification and efficiency in our business."

While Vodacom is not specifically involved in this new venture, it may reach some of Vodafone's multinational customers with operations in SA, according to IBM.

In 2016, IBM partnered with Vodacom and Gijima to unveil a massive data centre in Midrand, targeting large South African enterprises that want to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives.

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