IBM old guard dropping like flies in POWER and cloud restructure

LeBlanc retires after decades at Big Blue, two years in cloud

IBM software veteran Robert LeBlanc is stepping down after just two years heading the firm's growing cloud business.

Chief executive Ginni Rometty announced LeBlanc's planned departure on Wednesday as part of a restructuring of IBM's cloud and POWER hardware units. LeBlanc, who joined IBM in 1981, will retire in June.

IBM has named its vice president and director of IBM research Arvind Krishna as senior vice president, Hybrid Cloud. Krishna will report to senior vice president, Cognitive Solutions and IBM Research John Kelly.

Rometty praised LeBlanc as "a founding father of IBM's software business" whose imprint on IBM ran "much deeper". He was named head of IBM's newly formed cloud unit in January 2015 and in November 2016 IBM merged the public cloud platform with Watson.

As is so often the IBM way, LeBlanc served in a number of executive posts. These included senior vice president of middleware, general manager for worldwide software sales, general manager for application integration and middleware, and general manager for Tivoli.

It was during the 1990s that LeBlanc helped push IBM's e-business initiative, a campaign that helped transform the perception of IBM from stodgy mainframe provider into a web-savvy businesses player just as the internet took off.

His exit comes as IBM reported its cloud revenues of $4.2bn, up 33 per cent in its recent, fourth quarter. IBM was grilled, however, on when Watson would actually start to make money.

His exit follows the departures of fellow old-guard members last year of software-group chief Steve Mills, who left after 43 years, chief technology officer and cloud unit general manager Danny Sabbah, who had 30 years with IBM, and security group general manager Brendan Hannigan.

In other changes, Bob Picciano, senior vice president for IBM Analytics, is on the move too. Picciano will be joining IBM Systems in the new role of senior vice president reporting to IBM Systems senior vice president Tom Rosamilia.

"We are aggressively reinventing our systems portfolio for cloud, data and AI," Rometty said. "The centrepiece of Cognitive Systems is our Power franchise, which is vital to so many clients and ecosystem partners. Having envisioned and transformed our data and analytics portfolio, Bob is ideally suited for this role."

General manager for POWER Douglas Balog has been named general manager, Storage Client Success leading storage sales, reporting to Picciano. Rosamilia said Balog had been critical to transforming the foundation for POWER upon which IBM would build. He called storage "another critically important opportunity". ®

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