IBM Applies Vertical Approach to Linux Effort

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-08-22 Print this article Print

IBM is realigning its global Linux-related sales and marketing teams around a new model that concentrates on industry-specific solution sets.

After a six-month tryout that included some 300 customer engagements, IBM is realigning its global Linux-related sales and marketing teams around a new model that concentrates on industry-specific solution sets rather than on just products.

The Linux teams are focusing on selling 17 industry-specific solution sets that address IT and customer business problems rather than focusing on selling specific products.

The shift is designed to address the growing demand from IBM customers to transform enterprise IT operations into more responsive organizations, said Scott Handy, vice president for worldwide Linux at IBM, in Somers, N.Y.

Jean Bozman, an analyst with IDC, in San Mateo, Calif., said the IBM move is significant in that it shows the customer is clearly in the drivers seat and increasingly wants certain open-source components as part of the solution stack.

"While IBMs own proprietary products still remain a very important component of those solution stacks, it is now clearly showing its willingness to include other technologies if these help address customer problems. I dont see this as being disruptive to them selling their own middleware and hardware. In fact, it might be beneficial by growing the customer base," Bozman said.

IBMs Handy agreed.

Microsoft pitches joint research to OSDL. Click here to read more. "Thats a valid point. When we shifted to an open- standards base strategy, that allowed others to have compatible products to those standards, which is why customers like them. We do have to recognize these other implementations of standards," Handy said.

IBMs solution delivery capability supports all operating system platforms relevant to its customers, not just Linux, and is an extension of its on-demand strategy, which is now tied more closely to Linux, he said.

These solutions are also really starting points rather than being set in stone and, Handy said, if a solution or technology a customer wanted was not part of that, "we install it. We prefer our stuff, but well install anybodys stuff and, so, if we have to install someone elses product, well do that. Our services arms are trying to be agnostic, and, a lot of the time, the customer has no preference. In those cases, they will tend to favor our solution. But they are trained to be neutral, and if the customer has an Opinion or already [has] skills that can be used, we accommodate those," Handy said.

But some competitors are not buying it. Martin Fink, vice president and general manager of Hewlett-Packard Co.s NonStop Enterprise Division and Open Source and Linux Organization, said, "From my perspective, its an admission of guilt on their part that they had not mainstreamed Linux within the company, and now their customers are making them do that," Fink said.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel