The Return of the IBM PC Division

By Rob Enderle  |  Posted 2004-02-13

The Return of the IBM PC Division

Im not a big fan of software programs spawned by hardware vendors, and to date IBM Corp. has done little to change my mind. However, I recently learned about some new developments that could make me rethink Big Blues efforts.

The concept behind IBMs ThinkVantage program has always been sound: Corporations need to control costs, protect users, deploy purchased technology promptly, and realize benefits from purchasing new laptop and desktop computers.

Each vendor has its own method of addressing this challenge. IBM, Dell and Hewlett-Packard have been the most aggressive about creating specialized tools and services for these tasks. Dells solution includes services from partners and software from Altiris. HP also uses Altiris as well as OpenView, although it taps its own services to drive innovative technologies like PC blades.

Unlike its competitors, IBMs entire solution is homegrown, but the company hasnt always seemed prepared to back it up. Until recently, the software was poorly integrated and enjoyed almost no marketing. To add insult to injury, the tools often didnt work.

I sit on IBMs advisory council, which meets every six months. Twice a year, we have heard that IBM understands these problems and plans to address them. Until now, they never were.

So whats changed? The IBM PC Division has a new executive manager named Steve Ward. Hes IBMs most powerful "fixit" guy, and he has been in the job long enough to begin to fix some historic problems. Ward was previously Gerstners go-to guy, and has a direct line to current IBM CEO Sam Palmisano. Hes connected to every part of the company, and has been bringing different resources together to make the PC Division (PCD) a success.

After years of neglect, IBM actually looks like it has the corporate mandate, and the corporate support, to make these tools