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Zollar out as iSeries GM

Mike Borman, general manager of IBM's $30 billion Global Business partners group will now head up the iSeries. Experts say this latest executive shuffle bodes well for the iSeries.

Al Zollar, the iSeries chief credited with reviving the ailing platform, has been named general manager of IBM's Tivoli software group. Zollar will be replaced by Mike Borman, general manager of IBM's $30 billion Global Business partners group.

Zollar was brought into the iSeries fold in January 2003, replacing Buell Duncan. An IBM veteran for 28 years, Zollar was previously head of IBM's Lotus software unit.

Borman is a 25-year-veteran of IBM and previously held positions as general manager for the RS/6000 and vice president of Worldwide Sales and Operations Web Servers. He will now report to IBM Senior Vice President and Group Executive for Servers and Technology Group Bill Zeitler.

I think IBM decided to move people around where they're most needed.
Charles King
AnalystSageza Group

While under Zollar's tutelage, the iSeries platform made huge gains ,particularly in technology and branding and marketing efforts. However, the midrange server continues to be plagued by poor sales.

While iSeries revenue was up in 2003 and the company claimed to have signed over 2,000 new customers, the most recent quarter results showed a 28% drop in revenues. The results, according to IBM, are a reflection of a drop in demand because of the product transition to Power5 architecture – not a lack of interest in the platform.

Although executive shuffles are part of the IBM culture, the company's troubles in the software group may have been the impetus for Zollar's departure from the iSeries group and other major executive changes.

Analyst Charles King of the Mountain View, Calif.-based Sageza Group said given that Stephen Mills, senior vice president of IBM's software group, made the announcement, it could be reflective of the general problems the group has been having.

Revenues from software were $3.5 billion, essentially flat compared with the second quarter of 2003 (down 4%). Revenues from IBM's middleware brands, which include WebSphere, DB2, Rational, Tivoli and Lotus products, were $2.7 billion, the same as the second quarter of 2003. Operating systems revenues decreased 2% to $577 million compared with the second quarter of 2003.

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"It's not a big knock on IBM when you see what's happening to the software industry in general," said King. "They've all been taking a spanking. But I think IBM decided to move people around where they're most needed."

Borman, who has extensive background in RS6000 (now the pSeries), is the point guy for IBM's partner program —a huge push for IBM as it strengthens its place in the SMB market—where the iSeries has a major play. He also has an intimate understanding of IBM's Power5 technology, which the next-generation of iSeries will be based on.

"Borman is a really good choice," King said. "His expertise plays to areas of need in the iSeries. IBM needs someone who understands the speeds and feeds, but also the culture of iSeries and capitalizes on that."

Zollar was moved over to the iSeries group to improve the software stack and his job there is done, King said.

Other executive changes within IBM include Donn Atkins, a 25-year IBM veteran who was most recently vice president of worldwide software sales, to replace Borman.

Robert LeBlanc, who was heading up the Tivoli organization, was named general manager of WebSphere. And John Swainson, who was heading up the WebSphere organization, will replace Atkins as the top software sales executive for IBM Software.

While Zollar's departure is likely a disappointment who see him as the key to a better future for the iSeries, King said Zollar's expertise is needed in the Tivoli group. In fact, King said that although he can't say for sure, it wouldn't surprise him if it were Mills who tapped Zollar personally.

"Mills might have gone to the systems group and said, 'Look, we really need him back.'"

How would you rate Al Zollar's performance as head of the iSeries group?Take our poll.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Kate Evans-Correia, Senior News Editor

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