Software Group Realigned

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-03-03 Print this article Print


Software Group Realigned

Meanwhile, in an effort to further tap the emerging market for solutions, IBM recently realigned its software business. In January 2010, IBM's Mills announced the realignment to further position the company to build out its technology portfolio and capture marketplace opportunities. By creating two umbrella organizations, IBM Software Solutions Group and IBM Software Middleware Group, the company will more closely align its industry and analytics growth plays, as well as its core middleware capabilities.

In a Jan. 12 memo to all IBM Software Group employees, Mills said the "Software Solutions Group will focus on integrated offerings that target high-growth opportunities, such as business analytics, collaboration and industry solutions." And the "Software Middleware Group will include our industry-leading capabilities that build, manage and run our middleware and are fundamental to our business."

Added Mills:

"Businesses today want technology to solve their business problems and make them leaders within their own industries.  In response, we have been moving our middleware portfolio into new, higher-value opportunities, growing our core capabilities, strengthening our portfolio and building solutions that support IBM's Smarter Planet agenda.  Now we have the opportunity to take advantage of our middleware leadership and differentiated offerings to accelerate the growth of our business.  By better aligning our organization to marketplace requirements, we can focus across our broad portfolio more effectively, ensure the right levels of investment to grow our business exponentially and deliver new levels of innovation to our clients."

The two new groups are headed by Mike Rhodin, Software Solutions Group, and Robert LeBlanc, Software Middleware Group, both of whom have been promoted to senior vice president. They will report directly to Mills in their new roles. IBM granted eWEEK exclusive access to Mills, LeBlanc and Rhodin to talk about the ongoing transformation of IBM's software business and other issues like Smarter Planet.

Mills told eWEEK the IBM software realignment is simply just the evolution of the organization. "The things we are doing in 2010 are really the same things we've been doing for quite a few years," he said. "We've reached a point in terms of size and in the different things we're trying to get accomplished that I thought it was time to spread the organization a little bit. It's sort of the classic challenge of as things get bigger and bigger you have to come up with practical division of labor. And I thought we had reached that point where some of the things we were trying to get done were not getting quite as much time and attention. My own personal scalability has its limits. We haven't fundamentally changed the structure of the software group overall. We haven't created independent entities. The nature of what we do for customers doesn't lend itself to literal separation. The organization for years has had to work across horizontally because customers are looking for systems. The reality is what they're looking to deploy are systems that involve multiple products."

Moreover, Mills said IBM has set a high bar relative to an integrated build, run and manage environment. Yet, the company does a lot of code sharing and follows common architectures and common structures.

"We're still running architecture as a single integrated approach to architecture for the software business, and that's not going to change," Mills added. "But what this does allow is it puts Robert and Mike in a position to focus in with greater intensity on the respective areas. And the rough division of labor here has Robert somewhat more focused on aspects of infrastructure-aspects of the deeper plumbing. And Mike operating above that. So, Mike does a lot more aggregation of technology that Robert produces, and adds an incremental function to deal with industry patterns and industry-specific types of offerings."

LeBlanc said his group's sister organization will deal with analytics. However, "My organization is going to worry about managing the data," he said. "So, if you think about it in basic terms, it's managing data and analyzing data. And we're on the managing side, and the other side will be the analytics. That's an internal thing. From a marketing side we've got one strategy, which is the information agenda. And that's what the client sees. They don't see the organization."

LeBlanc also notes that middleware has been IBM Software's core business for some time and where it has grown in the past. "But there's still a hell of a lot of opportunity out there. You see people who'll ask, 'Is that why you split out the solutions because that's the high growth and the middleware is the low growth?' No, not at all. They're growing at different paces, but they're also growing very differently. Because the infrastructure has to be there to support the next generation of solutions."

And with IBM continuing to move upstream to aggregate capability with the industry frameworks that it builds, the company is making it easier for its customers to build systems. As it becomes easier for customers to build systems, the more they will need to add to their middleware. "So all boats will rise," LeBlanc said.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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