IBM Ratchets Up Attention To Open-Source And Standards-Based Software

Oversight group will ensure that new products support industry standards and open-source architectures
IBM has quietly placed some of its most senior executives in a new unit that will develop a strategy to more precisely define the role the company will play in an IT market in which big business customers increasingly look to open-source and industry standards-based software to build their next-generation computing networks.

The group will be headed by John Kelly, senior VP and group executive for IBM's Technology Group. Under the plan, Kelly's title becomes senior VP for technology and intellectual property. He will continue to oversee the company's Technology Group. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, general manager for IBM's E-business On Demand group, will also be part of the effort, as will Linux general manager Jim Stallings. Both executives will also retain their current responsibilities. An IBM spokesman confirmed the moves Monday. The company has not yet formally announced the changes.

Observers familiar with IBM's plans say the move signifies the $100 billion company's intent to more effectively and quickly apply its intellectual property to a rapidly changing IT market. Among other things, IBM wants to ensure that its support for industry-standard and open-source computing architectures isn't just a discussion point for product designers but an executive-level priority. Part of the new group's responsibility will be to ensure that IBM can deliver products that, out of the box, support standards-based tools used in specific vertical industries--such as the Uniform Code Council's UCCnet electronic-commerce network for retailers.

IBM has invested billions in developing a technological ecosystem that supports Linux and other open-source computing standards even as it seeks to retain commercial control of key pieces of a typical enterprise computing architecture--such as the application server. IBM sells application-server software through its WebSphere line of middleware. The company is expected to unveil a number of enhancements to the product group this week at the TechXNY conference in New York.

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