I am part of Watson and we have been hiring a lot (as well as providing great internships).
IBM's heavily into research - and has its fingers dipped into a lot of exciting areas. "A boy and his atom" come to mind.
That they're not customer facing is the issue.
A good example is their predictions on mobile phone OS market share. According to them, windows mobile is poised to take the no2 spot from iOS in just two years. The problem is that they move those two years forward every six months when their latest report on actual market share and updated predictions are published.
The original link went to http://www.itworld.com/article/2875112/ibm-is-about-to-get-h... - it got changed (for good reasons) to the origoinal Cringely page (which _doesn't_ have the comparison to IBM's 1993 layoffs)
But more seriously, have there been any other large, but not "biggest ever" firings since 1993? Anyone have a chart?
When my friends project got cancelled as conexant, they gave everyone a list of the ages of everyone being let go, likely to avoid an age discrimination suit.
Even if they didn't make it public, one bets they look at age if to just avoid a reason for a lawsuit.
It's shitty, but I'm sure a company as big as IBM will make sure they're ass is covered.
Look at this stuff. It's fucking beautiful: https://www.apple.com/business/mobile-enterprise-apps/
Enterprises don't need as much help setting up and running their disappearing data centers. But they do still need help building better software for their business. And more than ever before there's a focus on the ROI of better designed software. Definitely most enterprises don't have that kind of software expertise in house.
I think it would be mistake to advise IBM to try to just focus on competing with Amazon. The margin in enterprise services has moved up the stack and that's where it looks like IBM is moving. Definitely some pain along the way though.
Except that "people", i.e. employees, are not the decision makers when it comes to what software/hardware they get.
A better outlook is to make IBM (or any other company) work for _you_.
Work there for a couple years. Be bold. Challenge inept management and others that are only looking for stability and a paycheck regardless of outcomes. When you get tired of being stonewalled, bail to a smaller business and poach the people you identified as top talent.
Nobody's looking out for you but you. It's silly to expect an impersonal thing like a corporation to always try and take care of you. Making the company work for you doesn't have any factor in leading an ethical and fulfilling career. You can still deliver real value for a while despite a bloated middle management culture that is scared of the idea of bottom up leadership.
This is especially true if you're in an organization as large and bureaucratic as IBM and not in a senior position. I think you overestimate how much influence you can really have on upper management. True story when I worked there as a GDF lead, talking to a senior manager.
Me: "Hey, I think I found an error in the formula we use to calculate one of the GDF metrics. This is creating garbage data."
SM: "Oh wow, you're right."
SM: "Actually, we made the formula that way on purpose. It's OK."
Me: "What? How? Why?"
SM: "It's OK, don't worry about it."
What am I supposed to do then? Escalate to a VP? On a regular basis? I did. A senior manager got in touch with my manager and delivered the message that I need to get in line. I quote: "No more complaining." Depending on the environment where you're working, it's not easy to be the devil's advocate. It's usually not easy in the first place. In certain environments, it's almost impossible, you might as well have not even joined.
edit clarification: GDF was IBM's attempt to create its own version of the Six Sigma program.
Once you realize it, you can work on those obstacles. By-with-and-through: there will be friends, frenimeies, and enemies that you can use and be used by to advance whatever you set out to do. You can often play political factions against each other and ride between two or more to propel your own. If that sounds deviant, it's not - it's real leadership and starts at the lowest levels.
Set an aim point rather than specific criteria for success, so you may lose some battles but you can win you own long term campaigns.
As long as you are ethical and not simply an outright ass, the penalty for crossing the line is not really a penalty - maybe you get squeezed out of somewhere you don't want to be and are at least as valuable elsewhere. When you get some confidence, you'll find that the line is quite a bit farther than you expected once you enact this outcome based mindset that is in line with the real intent of the organization.
It will never be fun all the time. But you're there for some reason, and the alternative is at best purposeless mediocrity.
Some further sources of reading:
* I stumbled across some interesting second hand stuff of a mainframer that brought Boyd inside Big Blue: http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/subboyd.html. Some of it seems interesting.
1. I am claiming that for many of these battles, it's not simply political. It's a fight for the existential foundation of what the organization should be all about. When the web team at Microsoft went head-to-head with the Windows team in the late 90s, that wasn't simply a brouhaha over who should get power. It was much more than that. It was a question about Microsoft's future ability to dominate/survive/die. Yes, the weapons to fight the battles and the war are political in nature. But something at that level isn't simply about the politics.
> You're most often actually fighting a political battle masqueraded as something else, and a necessary shift is to recognize that early on.
Likewise, let’s not let the weapons being used mislead us to incorrectly conclude what the fight's really all about.
2. Once the strategy has been decided by the top, it's hard for one person, especially at lower levels, to change the momentum. The executive team is all in. If an executive is not all in, the executive is demoted, reallocated, or leaves the company. It's the CEO's job to get his/her executive team on the same page. He/she should have the political savvy necessary to accomplish this. It’s each executive's job to get their directors on the same page. It's each director's job to get their senior management team on the same page. It's each senior manager's job to get their managers on the same page. And it keeps trickling down until it reaches the bottom. A CEO who is not able to achieve this organizational buy-in cannot be considered someone who can lead the company. Someone at the bottom cannot and will not change the existential direction of the company, no matter how politically savvy he/she is.
Once Microsoft settled that Windows would be their focus and won the browser wars with IE6, they sat on that for years. It would not have mattered how politically talented you were, you were not going to convince Microsoft to invest into improving IE for a long, long time. Pretty much the only way to win at this is to be a super genius and create something fantastic on your own time in secret from the organization. Like the story of how OSX was ported to x86. http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/11/3077651/apple-intel-mac-os...
Otherwise, you need a concerted effort from multiple parties and sponsorship and political protection from a very senior level.
3. > It will never be fun all the time. But you're there for some reason, and the alternative is at best purposeless mediocrity.
Or you can leave if you can’t find any reason to stay. Staying can also mould you into purposeless mediocrity, whether or not you resist it. Let’s not underestimate our environment’s ability to influence our life, mindset, and behaviour. When I was graduating from university, I asked a prof which job offer I should take. He said whatever I choose, be careful if I choose the larger corporations. He said they’re like zoos. If you stay in them too long, you become tame and become unable to survive in the wild again.
Another piece of advice I received from a very senior engineer who had run his own fairly successful company was to always be aware of companies where decisions and promotions are made based on politics instead of data and merit. In such organizations, the people who stay and get promoted are the ones who are the most politically savvy, not necessarily the ones who are correct/capable. Sometimes there’s overlap. Often, there isn't. Ultimately, I think we have to decide if we’re more interested in becoming good at politics or good at doing our real jobs. Politics are supposed to be a means to an end, not the final product that a customer receives. As such, it’s better to have people who are good at product, and it’s just a nice bonus if they’re also good at politics because politics are inevitable, especially as an organization grows. But the focus should never be on politics primarily.
Note: I've never worked for Microsoft, I've only cited their examples here because their history is so well-documented through various books and media, especially due to their monopoly trial. I just chose the example that I thought would best get my point across. I have worked in other large corporations where my job was to create organization-wide disruptive change. We actually won an international award for it. But nobody would relate to that stuff. ;) My thoughts are mostly taken from those experiences, Microsoft is just the vehicle to convey those thoughts.
Honestly I too would hate "that guy." This isn't his fault though it's corporate's fault. Just know this is how things work in tech.
A fine platitude, but not useful advice that you can reasonably expect everyone to follow.
You can only be exceptional if there is a large group of ordinary people to stand out from.
Being exceptional is nice, but living in a society that nurtures everyone's talents and gives everyone a useful way to contribute is better.
Remarkably, really caring about outcomes does make you exceptional in a mid to large size business. Most people's vision begins and ends with not rocking the boat and group think of the way things are and always have been.
The more willing you are to do the right thing per outcomes regardless of self-assessment of "keeping a job", the less likely you will worry about finding employment there or somewhere better down the line. Good managers can taste this zeal and will seek you out.
> The question I have to ask is why isn't Rometty one of the 110k. IBM has seen 11 straight quarters of declining revenue and it's hemorrhaging customers, according to both my source and Cringely.
So what should IBM do here? For one, IBM needs a complete makeover. Why should I pick SoftLayer over AWS, Google, Microsoft, etc? They need a new image, something that will draw customers and something other than being the canonical story of corporate bloat and mismanagement.
Palmisano bailed when he recognized the ship was going down. She got handed the keys to the titanic. IBM has been on this collision course for a decade.
That's not to say she's executing brilliantly (or not), but I don't believe there's anything a new CEO could have done about this mess in the last few years that would have made a difference short-term. The consequences from the last 10 to 15 years of mismanagement were going to be paid for one way or another, sooner rather than later.
A lot of employees in developing countries in which IBM has a presence.
If not, then the billion figure represents a reasonable lower bound estimate on the savings.
So a billion saved per 10k of average employee salary, just way of quantifying it in something understandable.
A nice Fermi problem: IBM's revenue (2014) is around $90bn, from this rule of thumb this could support around 300,000 developers at a mean salary of $100k. From the model above, IBM's 400k employes should be producing a turnover of $120bn. The shortfall of $30bn equates rather nicely to the 100k employees they're laying off.
IBM like any company will employ support staff, admin/HR, cleaners, managers and so on. Plenty of those people earn over $100k and plenty of people earn a lot less. Ultimately we don't know the mean salary of the people they're (maybe) laying off.
But hey, it's a Fermi problem, order of magnitude. I would guess it's not too far off.
(You can tell a lot of the software is sold with IBM thinking "We'll tell them its their fault for a couple of years unless they hire a few of our consultants, then if they realize the product actually sucks hopefully we will have an upgrade ready by then.")
However, whenever I see articles from that Cringely dude (the one referenced repeatedly in this summary) I have to think "eh, maybe.... I'll believe it when I see it". He is pretty much an anti-IBM conspiracy theorist from what I can tell, though of course they are a strange enough organization that a lot of what he says turns out to be true.
Funny thing is, all the consultants who specialize in these products are awful pseudo-programmers & I end up bypassing their techs (WMB, BPM, etc.) with pure Java solutions whenever possible since the overhead of speaking to them creates like a 10x productivity loss. If the nosy busybodies (awful below average pseudo-programmers within our own group) didn't tattle to mgmt to help them reign us back in, the whole company would be none-the-wiser & we'd get work done at breakneck speed... ALL MOST OF US NEED IS A GODDAMN SPRING OR EE CONTAINER + THE JVM, hah.
Most of the layoffs happened in the summer of 1993, but in all, Gerstner reduced IBMs workforce by about 100k in a couple years.
The 1993 job cuts saved IBM about $4b/yr and IBM's market cap rose from $29b in 1993 to $168b in 2002 when Gerstner retired.
If you're interested in more, I recommend the book, 'Who Says Elephants Can't Dance' - a memoir by Gerstner.
Over time, companies accumulate cruft... employees who underperform. Same thing with governments and their programs (not software).
One of the ways to clean house is to dump a massive chunk and rehire the people on an as needed basis, likely with higher pay. The company has still managed to get rid of the dead weight, and the employees who are genuinely needed get more money. Similar to doing a clean OS reinstall.
That's the theory anyway. Very disruptive but it can be successful.
It's decided that the civil service needs to be reduced by some factor. With heavy heart, it is decided to do this the humane way: voluntary redundancies are offered to those who want to take them, with a generous severance.
If you've been doing well, great deal! You will get a good reference, and can easily find a new job.
If you've been twiddling your thumbs...uh...no thanks, I'll stay put.
I really appreciate when a solution is so almost-right that it is very, very wrong.
It's hard to see how it is in the public interest to promote these schemes with tax incentives. It would be interesting to see an official rationale for them.
 eg. http://law.ato.gov.au/atolaw/view.htm?docid=%22CLR%2FCR20137...
 it gets complicated, but see page 6 of https://www.ato.gov.au/uploadedFiles/Content/MEI/downloads/B...
But the layoffs weren't merit based from what I understand, and they usually never are for legal reasons. You just lop off whole teams of people. And you are right: they cut too far, and have to rehire some of those people back...but I'm not sure if they would hire the right people back. You know, the ones that could get a job somewhere else just pack up and leave pretty quickly, what was left were the good people who didn't want to leave South Florida, and once they did the move to Austin, they lost all of those people anyways.
Are you claiming IBM wasn't a major player by the 1980s?
When you optimize for market cap you may end losing sight of long-term relevance.
The P/E pretty much says it all.
Over those couple of years IBM went from using almost all of the sizable campus it had built to just one small section, renting out the rest. DFW was otherwise undergoing massive growth at the time though, so the cuts were readily absorbed by Dell, MS, and many others (my father went to AMR). It wasn't like in the early 2000s when virtually everyone in DFW was downsizing or closing and as a fresh college graduate I was competing for entry-level jobs with admins with 10 years at MS.
IBM has three problems that are coming home to roost.
1) They abandoned a large portion of their technology business, and became a consulting & services business. There is very little special about them now, they are almost a commodity business with a famous name.
2) They invested a very large sum of their earnings, not into innovation, R&D, science - but into financial deception and gimmickry. Basically they've attempted to deceive investors by projecting earnings per share growth through share buybacks, while the underlying business was rotting.
3) The consulting & services business they've chosen to focus on, rises and falls with the global economy. The global economy hasn't been great the last six years, and most of the governments of the world are struggling when it comes to spending and budgets. With global economic weakness, even big corporations have been restrained on spending for IT the last six years, there have only been a few bright spots.
I'm still very curious about the partitioning of these claimed layoffs.
ps: 4 times 'still' in one comment.
I'm not knowledgeable about the product, but it seems to me commercializing Watson is the smartest thing you could do. I feel like Watson could allow IBM to become dominant in almost every field and produce trillions in value for their customers. Am I off base? Has Watson development stalled over the past few years?
I should also point out that IBM talks up Watson's abilities way too much -- to the point that customers have thought that Watson could essentially tell the future.
There were several documentaries about Watson after it won Jeopardy, and this weakness was quite evident to those paying attention.
Watson never really understood Alex's Jeopardy "answers" at all. This was quite obvious in "final Jeopardy". Watson's response clearly showed its limitations.
Here's how it went down:
The category was US Cities, and the answer
was: “Its largest airport was named for a
World War II hero; its second largest,
for a World War II battle.”
The two human contestants wrote
“What is Chicago?” for its O’Hare and Midway,
but Watson’s response was a lame
“What is Toronto???”
I have to believe that the situation gets a lot lot trickier in a "medical context".
Still, couldn't it be possible to harness Watson as a super-smart assistant to humans? But there's probably not enough money to be made in that.
It's easy to suspect that the main
goal of the Watson computer playing
Jeopardy was really just luster.
Really, there were some severely
negative attitudes on (1) Research
working on projects that could result
in revenue and (2) transferring projects
from Research to the rest of the company
for development or sales. Our project
in Research was quite exceptional and transferred
two projects, both of which went
to customers and got sold, but our
group was unusual, and our success was not
wanted by the higher ups.
At one time Gerstner mentioned
"all the exciting projects coming out of
Research" -- right, about like the wings
about to sprout on all those pigs.
The explanation I like about IBM
is one given to me by the manager of the
Chicago branch office: "You might think
of IBM as an electronics company or
a computer company, but you would be wrong.
IBM is a marketing company, and it would
get into the grocery business tomorrow
if it saw a business opportunity there.
You might think that Research comes up
with new product designs, development
turns them into products, and marketing
sells them, but that is exactly backwards.
Instead, marketing figures out what
they can sell, development builds it,
and they go to Research if necessary."
So, maybe the current changes amount to
IBM trying some new things to market.
I also think IBM has the right model by creating Watson as a service on 30% revenue share -> Let external developers find all the various products and business models. They'll be better at finding and optimizing new products than a services companies would be and some of them will be able to go after much smaller products. You end up with more diversification and less of IBM's capital at risk for 30% of what's likely to be a much larger pie than IBM can generate on their own.
I don't know the actual amounts of time contestants are given, but on TV the final category is disclosed many minutes ahead of the "answer". Then a contestant has perhaps 30 seconds to formulate a "question". An eternity for a massively parallel computer like Watson. Quite different from the rest of the show, which relies on lightning reflexes when played by "champions".
Viewed from 30,000 feet (quite appropriate for an airport question, eh) I think that Watson didn't understand the category. Watson did not know what the words "US cities" meant. Those aren't words that would normally have any sort of double meaning, so if Watson understood the category, why would it have "ignored" category information? That doesn't make sense, especially for final Jeopardy.
As Dr. Venkman might say: "good guess, but wrong!" In Watson's defense, it did not have very high confidence in its answer.
We'll probably never know the real story. That's not the kind of information that IBM would want to disclose, mainly because it would probably make Watson look bad.
I think if a product were truly compelling, they'd be able to find (and polish) at least one really awesome use case internally.
The program that won Jeopardy was more of a specialized search engine with really good query parsing. Many of the other things they have announced as "Watson" look like entirely separate programs that they are marketing under one brand name. While looks like one amazing AI is just a mish-mash of domain-specific algorithms with some well-built glue.
(For the avoidance of doubt, I am not suggesting that Watson is anything remotely like a do-everything general-purpose AI.)
The way they answer questions is very, very different. Watson effectively translates the question into something equivalent to an SQL query, then executes it, and answers the top result.
What a human mind does is very, very different. It could perhaps be described like this : "put the electrical impulses on the outgoing nerves that seem like past successful Jeopardy players would have put on theirs in this situation". Your mind doesn't "answer" any question for starters. It simply reacts to the situation, the difference is in that your mind doesn't know or care about the difference between a question and a rocket falling out of the sky. Same prediction happens.
This reaction contains far more data than Watson will ever output. It contains the actual answer, encoded in had movements necessary to write them down. It contains instructions to pick up the pen, hold the board, crouch over the board so your hand would be in reach of the board, hide the answer from your competitors, ... You could easily write a 1000-page book about the response of your mind to simple situations (I've read a near-2000 page book that talks exclusively about the 3d math needed to control two fingers). This answer was produced by your cortex, which contains more computing elements than the internet. More data was transferred in your mind to weak computing elements than gets transferred on the internet in an entire US state for the same time frame. Granted, those computing elements are somewhat (a LOT) slower than a CPU, but there's 100 neurons in your cortex for every CPU ever sold, which is estimated to be a billion. (and I'm cheating with those numbers, for example the total data transfer that occurs in a single CPU easily outstrips internet traffic for a medium city. So your mind looks at the same amount of data as about a dozen cpus in the same time, much less impressive)
Fundamentally it's the "best" reaction your mind knows how to have. Best being defined something along the lines of "if you did this in front of me, you'd get maximum attention from my mind" (in this case hopefully because you'd win Jeopardy. But it's the attention that matters, not the win. E.g. if your girl/boyfriend plays, you'll play more like him/her, regardless of who wins).
The fact that we've seen little of Watson since Jeopardy makes me wonder if development hasn't stalled.
Something like "What's the minimum supported number of CPUs to run IBM DB2 on a new system Z?" or another customer-focused question.
Things like that don't require any insight, but would be a boon to the sales/marketing team when the customer has questions of that ilk.
Yes, that's positioning Watson simply as a better search, but what was Google, originally, other than better search than Altavista?
IBM sales force - on a non-tech level that is.
IBM's product line just seems completely irrelevant to modern tech companies.
If you'd like to view them more from a hardware deployment perspective, you can think of them more like the Dell Poweredge VRTX series than your usual decoupled stacks of network, pizza box servers, and SAN chassis. Cisco UCS is more connection-oriented with the emphasis upon making your network topologies far more flexible than with mainframes, so mainframes are compute-oriented versions in that respect with historically weaker support for scaling out with interoperability across the rest of your network infrastructure (not sure if anyone at IBM or CA has seriously taken standards like BGP and OSPF into account for mainframes, that is). People still remote into mainframes with TN3270 commands, I know we had customers still asking for that as of 7 years ago with no expectation of sunsetting.
The mainframe market is still $10B, and the fact that you can't think of a good use for one does not mean that IBM's product lines are irrelevant. The market should be addressed by major hardware manufacturers, there is still profit to be made here.
The fact that you are comfortable as a "hardware person" saying things like this publicly is a pretty clear indication that your world is much, much smaller than you think it is, relative to the size of the real world.
> At any rate, the mainframe is a hugely profitable business for IBM. Only around 4% of the firm’s revenues come from mainframe sales. But once additional hardware, storage, software and all kinds of related services have been factored in, the mainframe accounts for a quarter of IBM’s revenue and nearly half of profits, estimates Toni Sacconaghi of Berstein Research.
Read that again. HALF of profits. A QUARTER of revenue.
If you have any suggestions about how I can phrase this in a way that makes you both comfortable, and that still makes it clear that I do not believe you have any business speaking on this subject, then I am 100% happy to listen to you. :)
I'm sure you're otherwise intelligent, but this is an area where you should probably just listen.
You first write:
"The mainframe market is still $10B" and then
"the mainframe accounts for a quarter of IBM’s revenue" (that would be about $25B).
Which one is it? :)
$10B are spent each year on sales of actual mainframe computers. 
The article quoted in the last article claims that everything you sell around mainframes, like services, is a quarter of revenue.
Now, it's your turn to do something for me. Don't respond if you're not willing to read before you speak. I should not have had to explain this to you.
> IBM Hursley laboratory director Rob Lamb says: “There are 6,900 tweets, 30,000 Facebook likes and 60,000 Google searches per second." The mainframe CICS runs 1.1m transactions per second, which equates to 10bn per day 
Mainframes are overpriced and inefficient, but they are the only option for a F500 without the in-house talent to build any kind of distributed, fault tolerant system.
But people have been predicting the death of big iron for several decades now, yet they live on.
I don't doubt mainframes might be overpriced, but I also suspect the reason they persist is they have yet to come up with a cheaper option, offering the same performance figures.
Also, there is a remark that in major
parts of the financial industry, running
an IBM mainframe is nearly a necessary
condition for compliance.
I'm don't doubt that is a major factor. Add to that the major risk that what every new system you move to might actually fail to work or end up costing more.
But isn't that what Facebook, Google, and Amazon are doing? Using massively distributed commodity x86 hardware to eat away at incumbent businesses that would outsource their IT services to mainframes? Last I read, Google is about to go into auto insurance, and all three companies I listed do payment processing.
If software is eating the world, SV behemoths are eating business verticals.
96 of the world’s top 100 banks, 23 of the 25 top US retailers, and 9 out of 10 of the world’s largest insurance companies run System z
Seventy-one percent of global Fortune 500 companies are System z clients
Nine out of the top 10 global life and health insurance providers process their high-volume transactions on a System z mainframe
Mainframes process roughly 30 billion business transactions per day, including most major credit card transactions and stock trades, money transfers, manufacturing processes, and ERP systems.
The new mainframe delivered in 2010 improved single system image performance by 60 percent, while keeping within the same energy envelope when compared to previous generations. And the newest mainframe which shipped in 2012 has up to 50 percent more total system capacity, as well as availability and security enhancements.
It uses 5.5 GHz hexa-core chips – hardly old technology. It is scalable to 120 cores with 3 terabytes of memory.
Second, since I assume, most of the programmers here don't have access to mainframes, it is hard to testify those numbers. Also, since it is a benchmark it will be useful to revel what exactly the task they are using here, otherwise I would simply throw this claim into my 'pure PR mess, don't take it seriously' bin :)
One use of CICS was for heads down medical
claims processing, across all four US
time zones. The site our team from
IBM Research visited wanted high reliability:
If the site was down for, say, an hour,
then the data entry staff would have to
be called back on a Saturday, for at least
half a day, at a higher rate per hour.
One such outage in a year, and the CIO
could lose his bonus. Two and he could
lose his job. The site was very uptight.
Getting into the glass house was
not easy; might have been easier to get
into the White House Oval Office.
At one time to make CICS more secure,
there was some interest in having
processor hardware support for
address sub-spaces. Another
idea was cross memory where a
program could call and execute, say,
a function in another address space.
There were also data spaces, that
is, address spaces with just data and
no code but that could be accessed
by other address spaces with code.
Net, the IBM mainframes are not really
simple things. Cloning one would not
be easy, and at IBM's next version of
hard/software, the clone could be
unable to run the newer software and
suddenly be a boat anchor.
The mainframes have their own CISC type architecture and typically have massive amounts of cache and a high clock speed (5Ghz and above)
Their instructions sets are also different in that its not strictly of the von-Neumann variety. Mainframes can do things like memory copies directly in memory without requiring copying via registers. This kind-of attacks the von-Neumann bottleneck directly and is good for batch and high volume transaction processing.
The software for mainframes is also typically fused into their kernels, things like CICS and DB2 are not "user" programs, they're part of the OS so I/O is handled much better and things don't "block" as much.
if you want reliability and solid software you don't go anywhere else other than mainframes and minis from IBM (z, i, and x)
The companies that run these do so because they are proven, the languages they support are all business oriented (math is a specialty), and the code bases are vast and stable. Oh, they all do Web-centric work just fine too.
db2 is just fine with SQL and highly optimized as well. Modern is what they are, quit thinking small is modern
Also people seem to forget IBM invented SQL.
Edit: I believe that the linux server lines have recently been moved to Lenovo though
High throughput transaction processing with ~100% uptime guarantees, and someone to call who will Fix It Now should anything go wrong.
Systems & Technology: 14%
(http://www.ibm.com/annualreport/2013/bin/assets/2013_ibm_ann... - page 37)
Accenture has averaged 3.x% sales 'growth' in the last two fiscal years. Account for inflation, and they're lucky if they're not contracting as a business.
Not that anyone necessarily cares, per se, but if they do this, what happens to the companies invested in platforms like System z that only IBM can really support? Does "generic tech consultancy" include developing and supporting proprietary hardware and software?
As I understand it, the big selling point of Big Iron has always been the idea that it's more stable at the hardware level than other kinds of computer. Is that actually true? If it is, can a company get similar uptime with non-Big Iron hardware? Because it seems like that would be a hard prerequisite for replacing those systems.
 Then again, the fact you're commenting on HN probably means you're a strong candidate who'll find an internship with ease. So follow your dreams. ;)
 Again, just assuming this based on the fact you're an HN reader. You might be horrified to see what proportion of people in a BigCorp company can't do even basic reasoning.
 Pay an intern pennies to do pounds worth of work! Yay!
And that's why they are (or could be) losing customers... charging a premium for intern work.
I know what my skill was worth straight out of school... vs after putting years of practice in...
My current employer (Microsoft) has a reputation...but the reality is no where near what I felt when I was at IBM.
At the moment it seems to be down, probably from being overrun with traffic now that this story is trending a bit.
The information industry in in an exponential power curve right now. Participants are either in the stage of disruption or already evolving democratization. The classic monolithic mega-company just isn't engineered to twist and turn like that. I'm amazed they've lasted this long.
One way to survive is to admit failure and do an emergency fracture. Break off all divisions with any profit potential into their own manageable chunks which don't suffer from upper management overload. Wow that would be an expensive proposition. And IBM stock would burn.
When the global economy hits a wall, as a consulting & services company you can't innovate your way out of it, you depend on eg growth in government spending and big corp spending, both of which are shaky around the world right now.
I wonder who would be the right person.
And it's not even like they're just maintaining legacy URI's for search engine purposes, either: Go to ibm.com and click on "Services" > "Cloud Services". For me I got sent to http://www-935.ibm.com. Do they know how load balancers work? Do they just not want a global namespace in the HTTP paths, and everything has to be namespaced by the hundreds of different servers it runs on?
Whether or not the layoff rumor is true, this doesn't feel like the most insightful of articles.
Whilst I'm sure these ~100,000 are from services and sales - I'm equally sure that if they had something unique to sell in the first place, they'd be doing a heck of a lot better.
I'll get my coat...
Anyone who read IBM & The Holocaust is probably celebrating right now.