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Q & A with the 5 General Managers of IBM's Software Group
By: Jeremy Geelan
Apr. 28, 2004 12:00 AM
John Swainson, WebSphere
WebSphere Journal: Let's start at 35,000 feet: What's been the main impact of IBM's "On Demand" vision on the Information Technology scene to date?
Making it possible for people to do this required that we create a new, standards-based computing model. This model is based on the technical principles of a service-oriented architecture. It is delivered in our products, ones like WebSphere Business Integration, that customers can buy today. However, more and more, we are seeing customers starting to approach this from the business process angle, using our business consultants to define the business processes, and then tying the delivery of those processes to a set of technology models that help them achieve their goals.
Many customers have begun to realize the business benefits of on demand. Charles Schwab has implemented a WebSphere-based solution to allow their financial advisors to deliver portfolio analyses to their clients in near real time. By taking advantage of grid computing features in WebSphere, they have been able to make more efficient use of server resources and reduce the elapsed time to run these transactions from 8 - 10 minutes to just 15 seconds.
WebSphere Journal: How favorably does it resonate with your customers, the fourfold typology of 21st century businesses as needing to be responsive, resilient, variable, and focused? Are there any further attributes that have emerged as being equally important?
WebSphere Journal: How large do SOAs loom in IBM's vision for the future?
We have worked with thousands of customers on Web services and SOA engagements, and we lead the industry in every aspect of SOA, including products, standards, education, services, and experience. Our work includes standards created by the big market share of products like WebSphere MQ enterprise messaging, as well as more formal standards. IBM was a primary driver behind the Web Services Interoperability Organization, and we work with other vendors to introduce specifications for transactions, reliability, management, and grid computing. JSR109 is a recent example.
WebSphere Journal: And grid computing - where does that fit in?
WebSphere Journal: In terms of the competitive landscape, since Gartner reported that 37% of all deployed application servers were WebLogic vs. IBM (at 22%), things have changed dramatically. What are the current statistics in terms of market share between you and BEA?
WebSphere Journal: When talking to your customers, what are the key integration drivers from their perspective, and how is IBM delivering on each of them?
We help them get there with IBM's open, standards-based approach to integration, with WebSphere. We enable customers to automate the flow of information and process transactions to help them become more agile and responsive. We use horizontal end-to-end integration to leverage existing investments to increase business flexibility and efficiency and drive ROI. IBM can tailor integration solutions to best suit the needs and priorities of any customer, no matter the industry. IBM offers 63 industry-tailored software solutions spanning 12 industries. And every one of those 63 solutions is based on WebSphere.
WebSphere Journal: How about the breakdown between large enterprises and SMBs - where does IBM see the most growth? What kind of things are you doing for the SMB space?
Also, while SMBs may not have the size, global reach, and revenues of larger organizations, they still have the desire to have a successful, profitable, and growing business. IBM's Express portfolio of middleware, hardware, services, and financing is a comprehensive suite of offerings built from the ground up for SMB customers and priced with their needs in mind.
WebSphere Journal: Jonathan Schwartz went on record in JDJ as saying "middleware is history." Clearly that wasn't meant literally, but he was saying that end-to-end "systems" will supplant it as a focus. Is the IBM view that middleware, on the contrary, is just beginning?
WebSphere Journal: Scott McNealy once said "We're down to three - IBM, Microsoft, and Sun." Does the recent Microsoft-Sun pact change anything as far as IBM is concerned?
WebSphere Journal: Some of IBM's moves in the Java space appear to be moving away from Sun - Eclipse tooling rather than NetBeans, SWT instead of Swing, and now a new virtual machine. From one perspective it looks like IBM is trying to break away from having any licensed Sun code in its product offerings. Is this the end game?
SWT was developed because many of our customers demanded user experiences that the Java Swing code couldn't provide. The whole notion behind Swing is to have a consistent UI model across clients; SWT, on the other hand, allows people to build UIs that are deeply integrated with the look and feel of the host platform. So you can build Windows applications with that look and feel that fully integrate into the Windows desktop, and the same goes with Linux and pervasive platforms. Having said that, Swing is part of the Java standard, and IBM delivers more products using Swing technology than anyone else in the industry.
WebSphere Journal: Scott McNealy told IBM to stop pushing him to open source Java until you do the same with DB2. If Java is not open sourced, how does this affect IBM's licenses with Sun in the future? How serious was the call to Sun to collaborate with you on an open source implementation of Java?
WebSphere Journal: What major product announcements is IBM likely to make this summer, or should we be waiting for the fall for the next big additions?
All these products are part of IBM's effort to help customers compete more effectively in the marketplace. We will continue to help customers solve pain points, such as integrating far-flung silos of information across the enterprise and with trading partners. And we will continue to deliver on IBM's on demand vision through industry leadership in open standards, ongoing investment in research and software development, strategic acquisitions of companies like Rational and, more recently, Trigo and Candle, and our unmatched portfolio of software, hardware, services and financing. That's how we are making on demand a reality for our customers.
Janet Perna, DB2
QHow does DB2 rate at the moment in terms of the competitive landscape, versus Oracle for example?
Our information management efforts are focused on helping customers manage their growing requirements, enabling them to more easily integrate, manage, and gain value from their business information. Companies today are not only challenged with finding ways to integrate and manage hundreds of different database systems that are scattered throughout their organizations, they are also struggling to manage information based on a wide variety of formats, across different vendor platforms and in silos throughout their enterprise. They want to be able to leverage the information within these systems to improve their operational efficiency, customer relationships, and productivity of their people.
IBM provides customers with the broadest capabilities to meet these requirements, allowing them to streamline business processes, gain deeper insight into their business information, and ultimately gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
Q What impact does your division have on IBM's on demand strategy? How are you delivering on this?
Most enterprises have silos of applications and information, which have evolved over the years. Now they want to automate these systems across the enterprise and horizontally integrate them so that they work in a "demand to deliver" environment. Our unique offerings help customers automate the flow of information throughout the enterprise and enable them to analyze it in real-time, placing business information at the core of their business strategies. As a result, they can streamline business processes, improve inventory flows, and boost customer service. And of course, they can protect their existing IT investments. These are all key attributes of our on demand strategy.
Q What are the key factors driving the information management marketplace?
Q Why is enterprise content management so crucial for companies and what is IBM's strategy in the marketplace?
Content management continues to be a major focus for IBM this year. In addition to targeting small- to medium-sized businesses, addressing vertical markets and rolling out industry-specific middleware solutions, we have also upped our investment in research and development, increased our CM sales staff, and made three acquisitions for CM technologies in the past two years. No other vendor can provide the breadth of capabilities that IBM delivers today.
Q What are you doing to better support Java?
Q What are you doing to appeal to the developers that cater to the mid-market?
Q How great a role does IBM see for Linux in combination with DB2?
Last year we introduced, DB2 ICE, an integrated DB2 cluster offering for Linux on our xSeries eServer platform. DB2 ICES scales much higher and deploys faster than anything else available in the marketplace. This year we are extending our database leadership on Linux with specific enhancements to the next version of DB2, that will help database clusters scale higher and perform faster. The new offering will also support the new Linux kernel (Version 2.6) that better exploits DB2's 64-bit capabilities and takes better advantage of servers that use multiple processors.
We also see strong demand for DB2 on Linux in the SMB space with DB2 Express. Nearly 65 percent of solution developers who will use DB2 Express tell us they prefer the Linux platform.
Q What sets you apart from the competition, such as Oracle?
An on demand business is an information-based business. IBM is providing the framework for the evolution of the information infrastructure, which will be required to deliver information on demand. No other software company is taking this approach to information management.
Robert LeBlanc, Tivoli
Q IBM invested in Tivoli years ago for its systems management framework. Tivoli struggled in recent years - what changes took place to strengthen the business, and to integrate with the rest of IBM's software offerings?
When I took over as GM in mid-2001, I spent the first 60 days visiting 45 customers. We were right on target with our open standards and cross-platform approach, but had to fine-tune the delivery, so we made changes based on what we learned from these meetings. Essentially, we learned we were confusing customers with our offerings and we weren't taking full advantage of the technology in other brands. We also learned that our customers were looking to reduce the cost of operating their IT systems while maintaining growth. So, we focused on a few key areas and modified our strategy.
First, we grouped the business into a few key segments - core systems management (performance, availability, configuration, operations), security, and storage - while simplifying the product offering from more than 150 products to approximately 50.
Next, we began to leverage key IBM technology, starting with WebSphere, shifting to a modular approach for product delivery. Customers have unique needs. One may need the complete portfolio, another might want to add an identity management component to limit security risks, while a third could require storage software to meet compliance regulations. By using WebSphere, and J2EE, as the underpinning technology, customers had easier to implement, easier to deploy management solutions designed to fit their specific business needs.
Following these steps, we recognized that the broader challenge facing customers was the need to shift away from the costly, inefficient "reactive" method of systems management, and move towards a "proactive," predictive model. So we delivered technology solutions built around business policies and needs. This means that corrective responses to security threats or server crashes are now automated, freeing up resources (people, technology) to focus on the more pressing problems of the business.
It's important, as well, to note that our business has grown organically though acquisition and by partnering with industry and market leaders. We have strengthened our portfolio through innovation - continuing to develop our existing product portfolio and driving the IBM on demand initiative. Acquisitions have bolstered all of our segments; security and storage through Access360 and TrelliSoft, respectively; and the on demand management space with industry-leading technology from Think Dynamics. Finally, partnerships with the likes of Cisco, Citrix, and Siebel help us deliver industry-specific solutions to the broadest set of customers.
This focus on the customers, on meeting our customers' unique needs, is having a positive effect on our business: in the first quarter of 2004 we grew 18%, our fourth consecutive quarter of growth (on top of 12% growth for 2003).
Q Where would you position IBM with respect to CA, Veritas, EMC, and others?
Our competitors approach systems management in different ways. Some are focused on specific areas, such as storage, which limits their scope and their ability to look at the entire IT environment. Some of our competitors are not software companies by trade and therefore are in the process of quickly acquiring technologies and learning about the software industry to catch up to the market. Some are reconciling with their customer base while trying to figure out what their role will be in an on demand world.
Our strategy is well based on a solid foundation that revolves around customers needs. We approach systems management as a critical element of a larger ecosystem that we need to keep healthy, lean, and efficient.
Q Tivoli Storage Management Software recently became part of IBM's TotalStorage offering. What drove the decision to join the sales teams? Will the Tivoli brand remain or be assimilated into the TotalStorage offering?
Furthermore, by re-branding the IBM Tivoli storage products under IBM TotalStorage Open Software Family, IBM has been able to strengthen its storage software position by bringing together two key elements of the on demand environment - automated storage management and storage virtualization software. We are now better able to deliver a "TotalStorage" solution that includes end-to-end storage hardware and software while continuing to deliver software that optimizes customers' heterogeneous environments.
Q What is Tivoli's role in the on demand initiative, specifically around automation; why is automation important to customers?
So why is it important? Quite simply, our customers are dealing with increasingly complex systems, limited budgets, and dynamic business environments to which they need to respond quickly. We are providing customers with the tools to better respond to market conditions, competitor moves, and regulatory requirements. Their IT infrastructure needs to be designed to proactively keep pace with these changing conditions and put recent and relevant industry trends in the proper business context.
Automation is important because it will reduce the costs and manual efforts needed to maintain and manage complex environments.
Q IBM has been touting identity management as a critical element of on demand. How are you making it easier for developers to integrate identity management into the applications that make up an on demand environment?
This is evident through IBM's role in developing Web services security standards initiatives and our support for bodies such as WS-Security and OASIS. IBM is a leading proponent of Web services and has assisted in the development of widely adopted security standards like SAML. IBM has also developed the first ever privacy programming language, the Enterprise Privacy Authorization Language (EPAL), designed to give developers the ability to extend specific privacy rules across internal business systems and automate compliance to those rules. In December, the specification was submitted to the W3C for continued development and eventual standardization.
In general, IBM Tivoli offerings have long been touted for their interoperability. The security management portfolio is no different - IBM Tivoli security products are Javabased and support XML and different specifications including SAML.
Taking all this into consideration, developers using IBM Tivoli to bring identity management technologies to the forefront of their IT systems are at a distinct advantage - IBM is unique in that it combines industry leadership with comprehensive identity management solutions to create a truly valuable environment for developers.
Ambuj Goyal, Lotus
Q Lotus remains to most people associated with groupware, its prime invention. What role does Lotus play now in the technology landscape? How does it fit for example into IBM's "On Demand" vision?
The Lotus Workplace and Lotus Notes/Domino product families are how businesses connect their people with their business processes; they are the collaboration component of IBM's on demand strategy. IBM WebSphere Portal is how businesses provide their people with single, integrated access to the information, applications, and people they need, in the context of their role. Together, they can make organizations become more focused, responsive, and better able to compete in today's ever-changing marketplace.
Lotus Workplace enables people to interact, communicate, and collaborate across diverse computing systems in a single workplace environment. An organization realizes the value of e-business on demand when its people and processes are integrated end-to-end across the organization - and with key partners, suppliers, and customers.
Q How big a driver for Lotus is customer choice?
To meet customer needs, Lotus is delivering flexible, portal-ready collaboration components, built using Web services and the J2EE architecture that can be easily customized to fit a specific industry or business. The modular, on demand design of Lotus Workplace allows customers to pay for what they use, which leads to reduced total cost of ownership.
At the same time, Lotus Notes and Domino can be a big part of a Workplace solution. IBM will continue to support Lotus Notes and Domino. With over 100 million users, it is proven technology that provides value to customers around the world. Investments in IBM Lotus Notes and Domino can be leveraged because they will continue to function seamlessly as an integral part of Lotus Workplace.
The Lotus Workplace collaboration platform is comprised of industry leading software from across the IBM Software Group brand teams. Lotus Domino's rapid application development capabilities will continue to be available, as well as new Workplace Builder capabilities being released in May. We will also provide new capabilities to leverage Domino applications in Lotus Workplace. New tools, for example, are being developed that will help customers bring new and/or existing Domino applications into the dynamic portal environment of Lotus Workplace.
Q How would you summarize the value proposition of Lotus Workplace?
Additionally, Lotus offers customers value through several Workplace business value offerings, such as Lotus Workplace for Business Controls and Reporting, designed to help companies manage processes, controls, and information that may be useful in compliance with the internal-control reporting requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Q What's the reaction of ISVs to the direction that you are moving?
Our Lotus Notes and Domino partners are excited as well. While many of them will continue to develop applications with Lotus Domino, most realize the additional value Lotus Workplace can provide. In the end, it is the customers that win. We are providing a clear path for customers to stay where they are, or adopt the Lotus Workplace model. Either way, their investments in Lotus Domino applications will be preserved.
Now, there are more opportunities than ever for ISVs with our recently announced IBM Workplace Client Technology. With this technology, ISVs in particular will be able to extend the value of existing Web- or Java-based applications, and develops new applications that will provide users with a rich user experience. This includes many rich client functions, including disconnected use, and is still centrally managed just like the network centric applications they are deploying today.
Currently, no other software vendor is offering this type of integrated collaborative platform on which partners can build customized applications and business solutions - applications and solutions that can be deployed on a variety of clients, including rich clients, Web browsers, portals, and mobile devices. At Lotusphere this year, more than 50 business partners announced news, capitalizing on the new Lotus Workplace platform and demonstrating their commitment to working with IBM Lotus software.
Q What's happening with Lotus Freelance Graphics?
Mike Devlin, Rational
Q It's now nearly 18 months since IBM's announcement to acquire Rational. What's been the main impact of the acquisition, so far as you are aware, on the world of software tools development?
An example of this is the IBM Software Development Platform, a proven approach for business and technology leaders who recognize software development as a key to business transformation.
The IBM Software Development Platform is a comprehensive set of products and proven best practices for teams who build, extend, modernize, integrate, and deploy software. It is a cross-IBM Software Group solution that includes 18 core products and dozens of complementary and technology-specific extensions, enabling clients to choose the optimal solution for their team and technology environment.
The IBM Software Development Platform enables customers to embrace software development as a strategic business process like enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and human resource management. This allows customers to automate and integrate their processes across their organization, enabling companies to be more focused, responsive, and resilient, which can yield both top-line benefits and bottom-line results.
Q What's the current status of Rational's approach to software development, Rational Unified Process?
With the acquisitions of both Rational Software Corp. and PwC Consulting, IBM is in the fortunate position of owning two of the leading commercial software methodologies: IBM Rational Unified Process and IBM SUMMIT Ascendant. Each of the commercial methods brings significant and established customer bases. IBM also owns the IBM Global Services Method, which is used by IBM practitioners on engagements and on IBM accounts. These methodologies and offerings are quite complementary, and IBM expects customers will benefit greatly from the combined strength of IBM's full suite of methodologies.
In the short term, IBM plans to continue to support both the RUP and SUMMIT Ascendant offerings, and customers will be able to choose one or more of these methodologies, depending on their project needs and environment. For the long term, IBM plans to examine the best way to leverage the combined strengths of the IBM methods and tools - IBM Global Services Method, IBM Rational Unified Process, and IBM SUMMIT Ascendant - to lead the methodware market.
Q IBM tooling has tended to focus around its core runtimes. Rational, however, is tooled for non-IBM runtimes including .NET, Oracle, etc. What is the future of tooling in this space?
Rational will continue to develop new products that are designed to work in .NET, J2EE, and other runtime environments. One reason that we have kept the Rational brand identity is to allow for some separation between our WebSphere runtime environment and tools specifically designed for it, and more general software development tools, which are appropriate for heterogeneous development.
Q With so much functionality in Eclipse, which is open source, what's the business model that allows IBM to continue make money from its tools? Does "professional open source" resonate with IBM as a useful concept to describe what the new model is?
For the last 40 years, the basic building blocks of software development tools, shells, debuggers, loggers, editing windows, meta-models, etc., have been continually reinvented. So much time has been spent on the basics that the real value to customers can get lost in the shuffle. Eclipse levels the playing field for the basic pieces that make up the development environment. It provides open components for everyone to use as the core of their solutions.
As adoption of those building blocks grows, more attention can be provided to focusing on value at the next level up. There are more than enough customer needs to build a software development business model. The next successful wave of solutions will be those that can take the basic components that are part of the Eclipse framework and put them together in ways that allow teams to go faster, to get closer to their business users, and closer to those that deploy and maintain their solutions.
Q How different is it for you personally, being one of IBM's software GMs instead of Rational's CEO? How do the day-to-day challenges differ from those you faced before?
Q Is it the intention that the Software Development Platform you announced last month will be interoperable with all five brands? Is that what will unite you all more than ever, moving forward?
Over and over, IBM has seen customers use software development as a differentiator, and as a strategic advantage against the competition. By integrating content, processes, and tools from all of the IBM brands, and the services group, Rational is provided access to an incredible wealth of experience, capability, and tooling. IBM brings all of these to bear in the IBM Software Development Platform.
Q If every aspect of what developers want is now covered, from modeling through testing, what will be the future product cycle? How will the platform go on being improved still further?
For example, how long does it take to fix a bug that is discovered in production? A week? A month? Perhaps longer? By focusing on automating the processes behind the point tools, customers can start to solve the real problems that have prevented them from becoming more responsive and flexible - problems of process, communication, and information accuracy. With IBM, we have the ability to approach this problem from all angles, and by moving our tools onto Eclipse, we now have a common, open framework at the point where these efforts meet.
Q What will be the impact of UML 2.0 when the specifications are finally complete?
UML 2.0 has gone even further in this regard with enhanced capabilities to model complex system architectures, Web services, and business processes. However, with its more precise semantics, UML 2.0 also adds a much greater potential for increased levels of automation; things such as executable models, extensive automatic code generation, and formal verification and validation. After all, automation has traditionally been the most effective technological means, by far, for dramatically improving productivity and reliability.
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