IBM Lotus Software made a major management change Thursday, naming Ambuj Goyal as the new general manager. He replaces Al Zollar, who's taking over as general manager of IBM's iSeries server group. The move comes less than three weeks before Lotusphere, the biggest Lotus event of the year, and is expected to fuel speculation about the future of Lotus. IBM declined to provide any specific reasons for the change.
Many observers expect that Lotus and its flagship messaging and collaboration framework, Domino, eventually will be folded into IBM's WebSphere product line. That speculation has caused some Lotus Domino developers to fret that their development work could go to waste, and Aberdeen Group analyst Dana Gardner says a management shake-up right before Lotusphere will fuel such concerns. "That's not what you want going into your biggest event of the year," Gardner says.
Whereas Lotus needs to be focused on cultivating its developer community and providing a migration path from Domino into WebSphere, Gardner now expects Lotusphere to revolve around the introduction of Goyal.
Zollar is a 26-year veteran of IBM who took the helm at Lotus in 2000. Goyal also is a longtime IBMer, joining in 1982 as a researcher at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center and later serving as director of computer science at IBM Research. Most recently, Goyal was general manager of IBM's solutions and strategy division, and in that role he was responsible for WebSphere business integration and for setting the business strategy for IBM's software group.