European banking firm UniCredit to introduce cloud in its datacentres

European banking firm UniCredit has signed a multi-billion dollar deal with IBM to bring cloud into its datacentres

European banking and financial services firm UniCredit has signed a multi-billion dollar agreement with IBM to introduce cloud-based infrastructure within its datacentres and to create new IT service models.

The 10-year deal also involves the creation of a joint venture firm between the two companies, which will sell cloud-based IT services to other European companies and institutions.

The long-term IT agreement is aimed at transforming UniCredit’s IT infrastructure that supports all its commercial and private banking activities in Europe. By introducing cloud-based services to its datacentres, UniCredit will gain dramatic IT efficiency and flexibility, according to the financial services firm.

As part of the agreement, a joint venture between UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions – the global service company of UniCredit – and IBM will market and deliver IT infrastructure services to other European companies and institutions.

The joint venture will have employees in Italy, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Czech Republic representing both companies.

Together, IBM and UniCredit will establish a “Value Creation Center” that will aim to harness innovation to provide superior service and drive success for clients on a continuous basis. The centre will monitor trends in the banking and IT industries and identify emerging disruptive technologies to be rapidly introduced into UniCredit’s infrastructure, according to the financial firm.

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Cloud-based analytics will enable UniCredit to better predict and understand trading in financial markets, manage spending and provide innovative services to its customers, according to IBM.

“UniCredit’s innovation-driven approach to sourcing reflects changing motivations in the strategic sourcing marketplace,” said Erich Clementi, senior vice-president of IBM Global Technology Services.

“When making sourcing decisions, organisations like UniCredit are moving beyond basic needs, such as cost-cutting, to higher-order business outcomes, such as growth, competitive advantage and, of course, innovation.”

According to the IBM Center for Applied Insights study, Why partnering strategies matter, which questioned more than 1,300 business and IT sourcing decision-makers worldwide, organisations that have made that shift are outperforming on a host of financial measures, including revenue and gross profit growth.

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UniCredit operates in 20 different European countries. Its deal with IBM comes as the blue chip reported second quarter revenues of $24.9bn, missing market estimates. IBM’s $3.23bn profit was down by 17% compared with the same period in 2012, but its cloud revenue was up 70%.

In the previous quarter too, IBM's revenue and profit fell short of analysts' forecasts – for the first time in eight years. As a result of the poor first quarter, the company cut 3,300 jobs and turned its focus on cloud computing and data analysis to revive its business.

As part of its focus on cloud computing, IBM bought Israel-based virtualisation management provider CSL International to expand its cloud offerings by adding management capabilities.

It marked IBM’s second acquisition in two months as the company aims to achieve its objective of reaching $7bn annually in cloud revenue by the end of 2015. In June, it acquired cloud computing infrastructure provider SoftLayer Technologies for a reported $2bn.

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