IBMs New Linux Strategy Pushes Solution Sets

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-08-21 Print this article Print

In keeping with its On Demand model, IBM is positioning itself as a problem-solver for customers, even if that means installing other companies' products.

After six months and some 300 customer engagements, trying out a new sales and services approach that concentrates on industry-specific solution sets, IBM has decided to realign its global Linux-related sales and marketing teams around this model. The Linux teams are now concentrating on selling and marketing 17 solution sets that address IT and customer business problems, rather than focusing on selling specific products. The shift recognizes the growing demand from IBM customers that the company transform enterprise operations to become more responsive, "real time" and on demand, Scott Handy, the vice president for worldwide Linux at IBM in Somers, N.Y., told eWEEK.
Click here to read about how IBM is wooing SMBs with open-source tools.
IBM has aligned each solution with a services-led delivery capability, with specific business insight and solution customization by industry. This solution-delivery capability supports all operating system platforms relevant to IBMs customers, not just Linux, and is an extension of IBMs On Demand strategy, which is now tied more closely to Linux, he said. Handy said the solutions are also really rallying or starter points for the various engagements, and while these industry-based solution sets represent the top issues those customers are dealing with, if there is a solution or technology they have that is not part of the set, IBM installs it. "We prefer our stuff but well install anybodys stuff and, so, if we have to install someone elses product, well do that," Handy said. "The 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," he added. But some competitors are not so kind. Martin Fink, the vice president and general manager of Hewlett-Packard Co.s NonStop Enterprise Division of its Open Source and Linux Organization, said IBMs change in strategy indicated they were being called to the carpet by customers to make their execution match the message. "There is nothing new, different or challenging there, as it doesnt change the holistic nature of IBMs go-to-market model. 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. Steve Mills, IBMs senior vice president for software, said the company firmly believes in the co-existence of open-source and proprietary software across its solution stacks and offerings. "That is very evident across a whole range of things we at IBM are doing that combine open-source and proprietary software. They are not contradictory, and help provide incremental customer choice. For businesses, the leveraging of value comes about through integration, and they want the certainty of openness, the freedom of choice and to take advantage of lower cost," Mills said at the recent LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco. Thriving communities are also building up around these technologies and customers have the ability to leverage that, he said. "These things can be made to fit together, combining fee and free into offerings that customers can leverage. It also widens the ecosystem, facilitates more packaged offerings and encourages the industry to grow at an even faster pace," Mills said. Next Page: How IBM adds value for customers.

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


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