Zollar Moves from Lotus To Server Group

IBM sends Lotus chief Al Zollar to head iSeries server group; software GM Ambuj Goyal to replace him.

Al Zollar is leaving his post as general manager of IBMs Lotus Software division to head the companys iSeries division, IBM officials confirmed this morning.

Zollar, the first IBM executive to run Lotus, will be replaced by Ambuj Goyal, currently general manager for solutions and strategy at IBMs Software Group.

Zollar, 48, joined Lotus in January 2001 and has sought to integrate the messaging and collaboration software developer into the rest of the software development operations of IBM. This sometimes rankled Lotus developers who have bristled at the Lotus Domino platforms growing links with other IBM products such as the WebSphere application server, Tivoli network management suite and DB2 database.

He will now head the iSeries (formerly AS/400) server group, replacing Buell Duncan, who is moving to IBMs Software Group as general manager for developer/ISV relations. Duncan replaces Bob Timpson, who is retiring after 35 years with IBM.

According to an industry source, the moves are part of shift by Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM to make the iSeries an integral part of its eBusiness On Demand computing initiative that the company will announce within the next few weeks. IBM will reposition the systems as "software servers" that will come preloaded with all of the key IBM software, including DB2, WebSphere, Tivoli and Lotus, the source said.

"You boot it up, and its all on there for you," the source said.

Zollar, who has held major executive positions within all of the companys software units over the past two dozen years, will bring that knowledge into the hardware business.

"Thats part of the reason why it makes so much sense to have someone like Al Zollar to head it," the source said.

Goyal, like Zollar, is an IBM veteran. He is currently responsible for setting business strategy for IBMs Software Group and delivering industry-specific solutions based on IBMs middleware. He previously served as chief technology officer for IBMs Application & Integration Middleware Division, which includes the WebSphere and MQ product families.

Goyal, 46, first joined IBMs T.J. Watson Research Center in 1982, where he worked on or lead research teams that developed DB2 Universal Database, WebSphere, the RS/6000 SP mainframe and the Deep Blue chess-playing computer.

"I dont think that the fact that [Goyal] comes from the WebSphere world should be seen as a negative," said Richard Schwartz, president of RHS Consulting Inc., a Lotus consulting services company in Nashua, N.H. "His career path within IBM gives me the impression that he has the ability to mobilize resources to turn ideas into products that make money for IBM, and Lotus needs that.

"He is more of a technology visionary than Zollar, and that should earn him a lot of respect in [Lotus] Cambridge and Westford, [Mass., offices] and from customers."

Schwartz said he wasnt surprised that Zollar was moving on.

"I think that Mr. Zollar has accomplished his primary mission at Lotus, which was to fully integrate it into IBMs strategies and business organizations," he said.

Zollars challenge at the iSeries Group will be to re-energize a sagging product line, according to Steve Josselyn, an analyst with International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass. He said the iSeries has hit difficult times in recent years, not only because of the weak economy, but because it competes with the growing number of cheaper Intel-based systems.

"It certainly seems that—based on the lack of announcements from iSeries, in terms of product refreshes since 2000—IBM has not focused its technology prowess [on the iSeries] in the last two years," said Josselyn.

The only major upgrade of an iSeries product came in April 2002, when IBM installed the Power4 chip into the i890, he said.

IBMs iSeries line of mid-market servers includes six systems that range from the i270—which is designed for e-commerce and working on the Web, and starts at $10,788—to the i890, which can scale up to 32-processors, is powered by IBMs 64-bit Power4 chip and is priced starting at $1.5 million.

All the servers carry the companys proprietary OS/400 operating system, but in recent years, IBM has worked to open it up to Linux, Unix, Java and Windows.

(This story has been updated to include additional comments.)