IBM Cloud Guru Erich Clementi Looks Back at IT History to Gauge Its Future

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-11-19 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

From 2003 through 2005, IBM veteran Erich Clementi helped lead the resurgence of the revamped IBM mainframe as general manager of the System z division. When obituaries were being written about the demise of the mainframe, Clementi and his team went off to rethink and redesign the old-fashioned Big Hunk computer. Now he's leading the all-encompassing cloud computing initiative.

There's more than a little irony in the fact that Erich Clementi, the man charged with looking into the future and identifying strategic initiatives for IBM, made his considerable reputation largely by looking back and rebuilding a part of Big Blue that's truly old school: its mainframe business.

From 2003 through 2005, Clementi helped lead the resurgence of the revamped IBM mainframe as general manager of the System z division. When obituaries were being written about the demise of the mainframe in the early part of this decade, Clementi and his team went off to rethink and redesign the old-fashioned Big Hunk computer.

They were successful. Today, more than 40 percent of all data centers still have at least one mainframe, according to a recent survey by AFCOM, the data center industry group. Most of those are built by IBM.

His job completed there, Clementi has reversed directions and ventured out to the cutting edge by directing Big Blue's fast-growing cloud computing initiative. Again, Clementi is looking back at where IT has been in order to know where it's going in the future.

IBM's Blue Cloud and CloudBurst are huge projects that involve the whole company. How does one person with so many responsibilities, who coordinates so many moving parts of such a large multinational corporation, focus his energies most effectively and read the road signs correctly?

"How do you do this at IBM? Frankly, you do this by integrating IBM," Clementi told eWEEK. "This industry has a tendency to go through a wave of disintegration, where you compete around storage, you compete around software, you compete around 'gotchas.' From time to time, complexity comes back to be integrated, and integration gives you a simpler consumption model, which is what people like."

Ironically, Clementi does not like to use the term "cloud computing," preferring to describe the new wave of computing on demand via the Web as just that: a new wave of computing, via the Web.

"The fact that people cannot see how this [new computing model] comes about has made this metaphor of this thing being 'behind a cloud' so powerful," Clementi said.



 
 
 
 
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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