IBM has taken the wraps off of a new multi-cloud integration platform it hopes will help customers manage, secure and integrate data no matter where it resides \u2013 in on-premise, private-cloud or public-cloud applications.\nEnterprise customers are faced with the daunting task of bridging legacy applications with latest cloud service, and many can\u2019t just lift and shift, said Juan Carlos Soto, IBM vice president of Hybrid Cloud Integration. On top of that many businesses are already trying to manage five or more cloud environments, often from multiple vendors, and they can\u2019t keep up, he said.\n\nIBM\u2019s Institute for Business Value estimates that by 2021, 98 percent of organizations plan to adopt hybrid architectures, but just 38 percent will have the procedures and tools they need to operate that environment.\nTo address some of that complexity IBM Cloud Integration Platform (ICP) is an amalgamation of new and enhanced IBM cloud components. Big Blue says it will let customers securely connect applications, software and services from any vendor regardless of where those systems are, reducing integration time and costs while accelerating new application development.\nSpecifically the ICP runs on Big Blue\u2019s IBM Cloud Private environment which can manage Kubernetes and other containers. The ICP includes a number of existing IBM offerings that include the following.\nIBM MQ Series messaging middleware:\u00a0 IBM MQ is software that simplifies and accelerates the integration of applications and business data across multiple platforms. It uses message queues to enable the exchanges of information and offers a single messaging system for cloud, mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and on-premises environments. IBM says by connecting virtually everything from a simple pair of applications to the most complex business environments, MQ helps organizations improve business responsiveness, control costs, reduce risk and gain real-time awareness from mobile, IoT and sensor data.\nEnterprise-grade Kafka: Specifically IBM Event Streams is a platform built on the popular open source Apache Kafka big data technology and a key open-source technology that underpins responsive and intelligent applications. Event Streams helps organizations focus on writing applications rather than deploying middleware. It enables customers to deploy mission-critical workloads and helps them connect new applications to existing infrastructure, IBM says.\nThe platform also includes support for integrating siloed application on premises and in the cloud with support for key APIs such as REST, IBM said.\nThe idea is that with all the integration components of the platform customers can cut coding time and costs by reusing assets they are familiar with, Soto said.\nOffering a multi-cloud, portable hybrid integration solution is important for IBM in a few ways, said Cassandra Mooshian, a senior analyst with Technology Business Research. It greatly reduces the perception of vendor or platform lock-in, which in the world of hybrid IT is attractive, Mooshian said.\n\u201cIt underscores that IBM is willing to play in a multivendor world (rather than promoting IBM IaaS as the technology underpinning ICP and solutions atop it), it can help bring IBM to the table more often in enterprise and midmarket organizations now that it is \u2018playing nice\u2019 more often with peers, and it addresses a fundamental pain point that IT departments are facing, linking on-prem apps and data to cloud apps and data such that processes can become more efficient and customers can get the most business value," Mooshian, said.\nThe Cloud Integration Platform was just one of a number of IBM cloud announcements that emanated from its Think 2019 gathering this week in San Francisco.\u00a0 Others included:\n\nWatson AI for all: Until now IBM\u2019s Watson ran only on Big Blue\u2019s Cloud Private system but that changed this week. The company announced that customers running Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other cloud services will be able to take advantage of Watson\u2019s intelligence by being able to run IBM Watson services, including Watson Assistant and Watson OpenScale.\u00a0 \u00a0IBM said with Watson, customers will be able to apply AI to data wherever it is hosted and with its set of applications, development tools, machine-learning models and management services. Watson can help organizations mine data, predict outcomes and automate time- and resource-sensitive processes. Companies can also develop conversational services such as virtual customer-service agents, IBM said.\nHyper-security: Built on IBM LinuxONE technology, which features pervasive encryption support, IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services is aimed at securing Big Blue\u2019s public-cloud offering. The service will provide encryption-key management with a dedicated cloud hardware security module (HSM) built on FIPS 140-2 level 4-based technology.\nCloud at your service: IBM rolled out a service customers can consult with to build hybrid-cloud environments. IBM Services is establishing dedicated teams of consultants certified in the latest services and technologies across multiple cloud platforms.\nMulti-cloud management: The company has added IBM Services for Multicloud Management to provide a single system to help enterprises manage IT resources across multiple cloud providers, on-premises environments and private clouds. The service lets customers track costs and monitor service levels among other tasks.