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IBM says Watson AI services are now working on a cloud

FILE PHOTO: The IBM logo is seen on the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on 19 October 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – IBM Corp announced Tuesday that some of its Watson artificial intelligence services are now working on rival cloud computing providers such as trying to win over customers who want more flexibility in how they store and analyze data.

The announcement builds on IBM’s move to position its services as compatible with almost any form of computer infrastructure of a customer wants to operate. Other efforts are in anticipation of an acquisition of open-source software company Red Hat for $34 billion.

With the change, companies can make use of Watson AI tools such as Watson-Assistant, which can help them in the development of interactive services, such as a virtual customer service agent, in mobile apps, hosted on Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and IBM servers.

“With most large organizations store data on hybrid cloud environments, they should have the freedom and the choice to apply AI to their data, where it is stored,” Rob Thomas, general manager of IBM Data and AI, said in a press release on Tuesday when it opened to “Think” its annual conference in San Francisco for the presentation of new technology.

IBM will rely on an open source software package known as Kubernetes to make links to rival clouds.

IBM has in recent years sought to strengthen the faster growing cloud and analytics companies in the withdrawal of slumping hardware products and traditional software offerings.

Charles King, president of technology consulting firm Pund-IT, described the extension of Watson to other clouds as “an important step forward in the creation of Watson, the AI is more customer-friendly.”

Nick Patience, co-founder and research vice president at 451 Research, said IBM’s strategy is a “confirmation that we live in – and will continue to live – in a hybrid cloud environment in which companies do not want to be locked into a single cloud vendor for each type of service, be it for the AI, or something else.”

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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