IBM and Vodafone have launched a joint venture aimed at helping companies across Europe to allow easier integration of cloud technologies.

According to the launch statement, the new strategic commercial agreement will provide clients with the "open, flexible technologies they need to integrate multiple clouds and prepare for the next wave of digital transformation enabled by AI, 5G, edge and Software Defined Networking (SDN)".

Around 70% of organisations now use up to 15 cloud environments in order to access modern, digital business services and solutions.

Under the new venture, Vodafone Business customers will immediately have access to the full portfolio of IBM’s cloud offerings and IBM will provide managed services to Vodafone Business’ cloud and hosting unit, in an eight-year engagement valued at around $550 million (€480 million).

IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty said "IBM has built industry-leading hybrid cloud, AI and security capabilities underpinned by deep industry expertise" and "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".

Vodafone CEO Nick Read said through the new venture the company will "accelerate our growth and deepen engagement with our customers while driving radical simplification and efficiency in our business". 

The two companies said the "convergence of multicloud and connectivity promises to speed decision-making, enhance automation and personalize experiences for end users in any location – even some of the most remote.

"For example, in the past, innovating on an oil rig would have been a challenge due to lack of connectivity and disparate IT systems.

"Today, thanks to edge computing and IoT technologies from Vodafone working with the latest AI and augmented reality applications from IBM, engineers will be able to pinpoint and resolve faults on equipment in minutes rather than hours, potentially saving millions in lost productivity."

The initiative is set to be up-and-running during the first half of this year.