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IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good way

By Andrew Pollack on 07/20/2010 at 12:54 PM EDT

Steve Mills is now in charge of both hardware and software. According to The New York Times....

The management changes, announced in an e-mail message to I.B.M. employees, were intended to improve the company’s products and services, Mr. Palmisano wrote. For example, computer hardware and software are for the first time being placed under the oversight of one executive......Increasingly, Mr. Palmisano wrote, computer systems must be “designed and brought to market as tightly integrated” packages of hardware and software.


So, am I the only one totally confused by this? What hardware and software is that?

Certainly it isn't the PC and PC based server world -- unless they're planning to come out with the "PS/2 2.0" or some product directly competing with the entire Wintel world like Apple. The idea of selling a PC with its own software and hardware tied exclusively to it went out with the Tandy 2000 in 1982.

Certainly it isn't the networking and SAN businesses, because while there is software for that - it's already managed by the hardware team as what is essentially firmware and specialty OS stuff.

Are they now talking about specifically refocusing entirely on the Mainframe world? Are HP and Hitachi (is that still who competes there?) pushing them so hard as to make it worthwhile to put all of the software division under that group?

Is it just that Hardware and Software combined now have about the same revenue and budget as Services by itself?


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Henning Heinz on 07/20/2010 at 01:26 PM EDT
IBM will probably still sell big iron in 20 years but it is not strategic
anymore. But for a company of this size you just cannot say that you are giving
up in that area (well you can but that would cause some heavy damage).
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Bill Dorge on 07/20/2010 at 02:04 PM EDT
I'd probably start thinking appliance, kind of like IBM Cloudburst,
http://www-01.ibm.com/software/webservers/cloudburst/ . They have the tools,
products, and know how to take this farther than anyone in the market today,
just not sure Mills is the guy to pull it off though.
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Gregg Eldred on 07/20/2010 at 02:06 PM EDT
The only "tightly integrated" hardware and software package that IBM sells is
Lotus Foundations, right?
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Craig Wiseman on 07/20/2010 at 03:51 PM EDT
"sells"?
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Nathan T. Freeman on 07/20/2010 at 02:22 PM EDT
Look at the numbers. Systems & Technology is in a free fall. 1H revenues for
2007-2010 are: 9622MM, 9431MM, 7083MM, 7370MM. IBM didn't report per division
Income in 2007, but 2008-2010 looks like: 546MM, 361MM, 51MM. That's down over
90% in two years.

So either the hope is that they can bring margins in hardware back up by
tightly bundling software (which is where most of the value comes from unless
you're talking about consumer devices anyway) or this is a way to consolidate
reporting and bring the reported margins back up.

Either way, it has to be done, or S&T is going to report a loss in 2011, and
that's something that IBM just doesn't do.
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Andrew Pollack on 07/20/2010 at 02:27 PM EDT
Bingo. I think you've hit it dead on. I was saying in another venue, that
this is a bookkeeping change not a technology change. I don't follow the
numbers for their divisions enough to have made the specific call, but if not
you're right on, you're very close I think.
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Stephan H. Wissel on 07/21/2010 at 08:19 AM EDT
Let us look at computers where the hardware and software are tightly integrated:
- Appliances (Firewall, Storage, Anti-Virus, databases etc.)
- Wifi Router
- TV Box
- SmartPhone
- iMac
- iPhone
-iPad

if you compare the growth rate of all these it looks intriguing.
Of course the question is: does that work for servers too. Seem both IBM and
Oracle think so.
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Stephan H. Wissel on 07/21/2010 at 08:20 AM EDT
and Steve Mills has a track record of successful innovation, specifically in
Lotus software.
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Andrew Pollack on 07/21/2010 at 10:51 AM EDT
Please tell me you're joking about Mills. You are, right?
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Craig Wiseman on 07/21/2010 at 12:12 PM EDT
Innovation = change

Successful = he got promoted.
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Jerry Carter on 07/21/2010 at 03:40 PM EDT
Don't for get the Amiga Computer and the Atari ST.
re: IBM has invented the time machine - and not in a good wayBy Lisa Duke on 07/22/2010 at 08:11 AM EDT
Well, if you have a bunch of sellers and partners who push boxes even though
the profit is in software, slap the software on the box and viola! problem
solved!


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