Jan 212015

January 20, 2015 -by Tom Spring – CRN

IBM is for the first time ever bringing its hardware and software partners under one roof into a Global Business Partner Group in a move designed to push the $100 billion IT goliath into an age of cloud, big data and analytics.

“IBM is putting in place a more integrated approach to IT solutions, breaking down silos,” said an IBM partner who asked not to be identified.

The internal shakeup is wide-ranging, impacting IBM’s channel strategy and includes a reorg of business units and an internal executive changing of the guard. While IBM declined to comment on the shakeup, channel partners confirmed the moves and said that channel leadership remains intact with Marc Dupaquier, general manager of Global Business Partners at IBM, overseeing IBM’s channel business.

Late Tuesday, IBM will announce its fourth-quarter earnings where it’s expected to report its 11th straight quarter without a revenue increase, according to Wall Street analysts.

Channel partners confirmed reports that IBM has put in place a new internal structure within the company that is focused on a holistic approach to solving business problems centered on analytics, cloud, mobile and security. The move is meant to move away from IBM’s existing business unit approach that favored stand-alone hardware, software and services silos.

Partners said the new groups include Research, Sales and Delivery, Systems, Global Technology Services, Cloud, Watson, Security, Commerce and Analytics. Notable to the channel community is that IBM’s hardware and software channel teams will be rolled into a Global Business Partner Group.

By unifying groups, IBM helps customers piece together solutions that span IBM’s vast product portfolio. “This means centralized management of business units and a more unified strategic direction for IBM instead of having separate IBM horses running their own races,” said the partner.

“It’s a welcome change,” said another IBM partner that asked not to be identified. He said IBM was too often competing with itself on sales.

“We’d bring security deals to IBM and one [IBM] group would want to sell it as a service and another would want to sell it as a traditional software sale,” said the IBM partner that specialized in reselling IBM security solutions.

“Each IBM group was in a silo. They didn’t care if they walked into another deal. They didn’t care about confusing a customer. They wanted to make money,” said the partner. “We lost deals. Customers would have to wait for quotes and they would be confused. Ultimately, that pushed customers to the competition.”

Other tweaks to IBM’s channel include a greater emphasis on IBM’s regional sales reps. Partners told CRN that change will impact national solution providers that do business in multiple geographic areas. In the past, when a Chicago-based solution provider needed IBM channel support in Boston, for example, they would work locally with their Chicago IBM reps. Now partners will be encouraged to work more closely with geographic-specific channel reps instead.

IBM will be focusing more on where products and services are geographically landing and not from where they are launching, partners said.

“There will always be a geographic advantage when a rep has boots on the ground where you want to do business,” said a national IBM channel partner who will be impacted by the changes.

The partner told CRN that the number of channel partners that are receiving dedicated channel managers has been reduced. That means less support for remaining partners when it comes to in-house account management, according to partners. On the flip side, it means more support for those IBM partners selling higher-value solutions.

“IBM is putting more focus on less partners,” said the national partner that will be transitioned to receive less in-house support from IBM account managers. “They are relying a lot more on distributors. It’s unclear what the impact this will have on my business,” he said.

IBM has expanded further existing relationships with a number of distributors including Arrow, Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Avnet. For example, both Tech Data and Avnet began offering IBM’s VersaStack solution in December. Distributors have also begun selling IBM’s SoftLayer cloud services.

The change in coverage model, partners speculate, has to do with massive internal changes it has undergone over the past 12 months.

Last year, IBM divested its x86 server business and its chip manufacturing business. The reorganization dovetails major IBM investments in mobile solutions and analytics via its Watson group. Early last year, IBM announced a “workforce rebalancing” that reportedly led to a staffing reduction of 15,000 employees.

Over the past several years, Chief Executive Ginni Rometty has pushed IBM to realign the company for success in delivering big data, cloud, security and mobile solutions. The IBM restructuring comes as the company struggles to reverse over two years of revenue decline and at the same time realigns itself for changes within IT such as a move by companies to SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.

Part of the reorientation has included internal leadership changes.

Former head of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group, Tom Rosamilia, now becomes senior vice president of IBM’s Systems group. According to Rosamilia’s updated official IBM bio he has “global responsibility for all aspects of IBM’s middleware, servers and storage as well as the Company’s global Business Partners organization.”

Bob LeBlanc, who has been shepherding IBM’s cloud business and delivered a keynote at CRN’s Best of Breed conference in December, is now senior vice president for IBM’s cloud group, according to his IBM bio.

IBM’s Arvind Krishna becomes senior vice president and director of IBM Research. Arvind moves into his new role from his previous position as general manager of IBM Systems and Technology Group’s Development and Manufacturing organization, overseeing IBM semiconductor, server and storage systems research, according to his IBM bio.

Steven Mills becomes executive vice president of IBM Software and Systems. Prior to this position, Mills was senior vice president and group executive for IBM’s Software Group, according to his bio.

Partners sais that while they are waiting for the dust to settle on the shakeup, the moves are positive.

“How you solve business problems today is not how you solved them just a few years ago,” said a business partner that asked not to be identified. “Too often there is a wide gulf between customer expectations versus what IBM can deliver. Now, IBM can streamline messaging, expectations and the solutions to solve specific business problems.”

Dec 292014

In keeping with tradition and one of Arbitech’s core values of community outreach and support, Arbitech once again supported the Spark of Love Toy Drive this holiday season.  Participation from Arbitech employees as always exceeded expectations.

ABC7 & Southern California firefighters celebrate 22 years of giving.  Over the past two decades, Spark of Love has successfully collected more than 8 million toys. The campaign collects new, unwrapped toys and sports equipment for underserved children and teens in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Ventura and Riverside counties.

Arbitech takes pride in supporting such a wonderful cause.  We look forward to another successful drive in 2015.


Nov 172014

It’s that time of the year where the ghosts and ghouls begin to drift out from the cracks in the walls and everyone starts to feel the chill of the Halloween breeze.  At Arbitech, this is certainly no exception with more than half of our staff participating in the annual Halloween costume contest.  This year’s contest more than lived up to the expectations, with costumes ranging from cute and funny to downright terrifying.

After the drumroll subsided the judges cast their votes. The dynamic duo of James and Jimmy took the prize for funniest, dressing up as Ryu and E. Honda from the video game “Street Fighter”.  Greg stole the show for the most creative and Jeff scared the judges into submission as Jigsaw from the popular horror movie franchise “Saw”.

Well done and thank you to all of our participants, judges and all else who made this fun day possible. It goes without saying that we cannot wait to see what’s in store for next year.


Oct 062014

October 6, 2014 – by Steven Burke – CRN

Hewlett Packard Monday confirmed that it is splitting into effectively what would become two publically traded Fortune 50 companies: a $56 billion PC and Printing business and a $56 billion enterprise computing business.

HP’s personal systems and printing business will do business as HP Inc. and retain the current branding and logo. HP’s enterprise computing business, which will include enterprise systems, software and services, will do business as Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

HP shares were trading up six percent in premarket trading to $37.20 on news of the split.

Following the split, which is expected to be completed by the end of HP’s fiscal year 2015 ended Oct. 31, 2015, HP shareholders will own shares of both HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

HP said the split will provide each company with its “own more focused equity currency, and investors with the opportunity to invest in two companies with compelling and unique financial profiles suited to their respective businesses.” What’s more, HP said both companies will be “well capitalized and expect to have investment grade credit ratings and capital structures.

The complex transaction, which is intended to be a tax-free distribution to HP’s shareholders for federal income tax purposes, has been approved by HP’s board of directors, but must still receive favorable rulings with respect to the tax free nature of the deal.

HP Chairman and CEO Meg Whitman, who will retain a hand in both companies, said in a prepared statement that the split will accelerate her five year HP turnaround plan which is approaching the fourth year.

“Our work during the past three years has significantly strengthened our core businesses to the point where we can more aggressively go after the opportunities created by a rapidly changing market,” said Whitman. “The decision to separate into two market-leading companies underscores our commitment to the turnaround plan. It will provide each new company with the independence, focus, financial resources, and flexibility they need to adapt quickly to market and customer dynamics, while generating long-term value for shareholders.”

Whitman said that by transitioning from one HP to two new companies HP “will be in an even better position to compete in the market, support our customers and partners, and deliver maximum value to our shareholders.”

Whitman will be president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise with lead independent director Pat Russo acting as chairman of the Hewlett Packard Enterprise board.
Dion Weisler, the current executive vice president of HP’s personal systems and printing business, will be president and CEO of HP Inc. with Whitman acting as non executive Chairman of the HP Inc. board of directors.

Partners said they the split opening the door to unlocking value and increasing innovation in both companies. “It’s a brilliant move,” said Mike Strohl, CEO of Entisys Solutions, a Concord, Calif.-based HP Platinum partner, No. 253 on the 2014 Solution Provider 500. “The PC printer business is more consumer focused and the enterprise business is a commercial focused business. Separating them will allow HP to drive more innovation, propelling them and their partners into a market leadership position.”

HP said the split will provide HP Enterprisewith “additional resources and a reduction of debt at the operation company level to support investments across key areas of the portfolio.” The company assured that HP Enteprise customers will have the same “unmatched choice of how to deploy and consume technology with a simpler, more nimble” company.

“Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will accelerate innovation across key next-generation areas of the portfolio,” assured Whitman.
Weisler, for his part, called the split a “defining moment” in the industry as customers look for more “innovation to enable workforces that are more mobile, connected and productive.

“As the market leader in printing and personal systems, an independent HP Inc. will be extremely well positioned to deliver that innovation across our traditional markets as well as extend our leadership into new markets like 3-D printing and new computing experiences – inventing technology that empowers people to create, interact and inspire like never before,” said Weisler in a prepared statement.

HP said as a result of the split it was postponing its October 8 analyst meeting. However, it reiterated fiscal 2014 non GAAP diluted earnings per share outlook of $3.70 -$3.74 and updated its net earnings per share outlook to $2.60 – $2.64.

For fiscal 2015, HP said it expected non GAAP diluted net earnings per share outlook of $3.83 – $4.03 and GAAP diluted net earnings per share of $3.23 – $3.42.
The HP outlook for fiscal 2015, however, does not include one time GAAP charges the company is expected to incur in connection with the split including advisory and tax costs.


Sep 242014

September 24, 2014 – by Ron Miller – Tech Crunch

There are certain ways of doing things in hardware engineering, and engineers simply follow these rules because there’s no use fighting them even if they wanted to. Frankly, most don’t even think about it because it’s just a given, but during a recent tour of Facebook’s hardware lab, director of engineering Matt Corddry, says Facebook scale requires them to rethink the old rules and let engineers imagine outside industry standards.

Since Facebook has begun building much of its own hardware, that means engineers can rethink how things are done, and when you build equipment for the scale of Facebook, it requires creative thinking. “We understand our challenges, costs, operating environment and needs better than an outside vendor and we are able to specialize on the specific needs of Facebook,” Corddry told me recently.

Corddry explained that one of the ways Facebook encourages this creative thinking is to get engineers to work across specialties and talk to one another. “What I find is you need to give engineers learning experiences to find optimizations and break boundaries to get discussions across disciplines,” he said.

Facebook has found when engineers work together instead of in isolation interesting things begin to emerge. “Many silo these engineering teams –server, storage, database, [and so forth]. We don’t create these barriers,” he said. “We bring different teams together to find new ways to solve problems.”

Another thing they do, that many companies, even hardware manufacturers fail to do is they bring their engineers into their datacenters and they watch how people maintain the equipment they design. When you see someone taking out 6 screws (or 16) to replace a hard drive, and you need to do this hundreds of times a year, you begin to get that there needs to be a simpler way.

That’s how they designed the disk array shown here. It’s designed for easy maintenance with no screws. You simply flip the large green lever to slide out the array, pop the small green lever in front of the hard drive you need to replace, lift the hinged lid (as shown below), tug out the hard drive and pop it in a new one. There are no screws involved at all, and when you have Facebook scale, you need to be thinking about these types of issues.

He said that the disk array design I looked at had been iterated over time to make it as simple as possible to maintain. It’s possible they aren’t done yet.

In contrast, Corddry told me he spoke to one hardware engineer at unnamed vendor who admitted he had never watched a technician try to repair his design. When you don’t think about maintenance, it shows and we’ve all dealt with equipment with way too many small screws and poor placement. You end up with bloody knuckles from scraping against the inside of the machine and it’s not fun.

When you’re dealing with a few machines, that’s troubling. When you’re dealing with thousands or even tens of thousands, it takes on a different dimension.

Another way that the Facebook engineers thought outside the box (literally) was the server design. Corddry told me engineers are conditioned that the server design has to fit into a 2u rack, but he gave them permission to forget about that and imagine how they would design a server if there were no rack limitations.

When they left those limitations behind, it opened up all kinds of possibilities. Left to their own design devices, the engineers came up with a long narrow box. Facebook designed a rack to accommodate the new size. You can afford to do that when you’re Facebook. The box slides out of the rack and the top slides off –again no screws –and as you can see from the pictures below, the engineers laid out the box so that you could see the different parts at a glance. As one hardware engineer friend who looked at these pictures pointed out, some of the design principles still hold in terms of where you sit memory in relation to the CPU and the distance you want information to carry, but once again Facebook allowed its engineers to break the design mold and do what felt right.Inside the Facebook server.

Corddry said the idea is to put specialists with a narrow and deep focus together with broad generalists in a hackathon-style approach and let them have at these design problems and they really do come up with creative ways to solve what would have been much more difficult design problems.

It’s worth noting that when they are done producing these unique forms of hardware they open source them to the Open Compute project where the designs are delivered to a community of designers to further attack the scale computing problem and figure out ways to produce hardware that’s easier to maintain, runs much more efficiently and can be managed more cost-effectively throughout its lifecycle.

Sep 092014

Summer time at Arbitech means only one thing – Wiffle Ball tournament time!  The journey to the final on August 8th took the field of 13 teams just over two months to complete.  Competition was fierce and passionate during the double elimination tournament.  In the end, Makin’ Bacon and The Backdoor Sliders were left standing, battling it out to see who would take home the title of Wiffle Ball Champions 2014.  By a score of 2-0, The Backdoor Sliders edged out Makin’ Bacon for this year’s title.  Once again TK Burger’s mobile food truck supplied everyone with some unbelievable made to order hamburgers and fries while Rita’s Italian Ice helped cool everyone down.  Special thanks goes out to all those that helped make this such a special event.

Wiffle Champs2