Global CIO: IBM's New CIO Sheds Light On Priorities And Plans

After two months as IBM's first company-wide CIO, Pat Toole talks about battling 80/20, a massive data-center consolidation, cloud initiatives, and cutting 11,500 apps.
That's why IBM is swapping out 3900 System X servers for 24 or possibly even just 22 newer and more-powerful servers, including some System Z mainframes. That greatly reduced number of new machines will provide the infrastructure driving the company's "Blue Harmony" global single instance of SAP applications, which we wrote about yesterday in IBM Taps SAP For Global Single Instance Project.

That standard set of applications is one element of the company's goal to become a truly globally integrated enterprise, and on a parallel path Toole and his team have been attacking a separate example of out-of-control application sprawl by cutting the number used across the company from 16,000 down to 4,500.

The outcomes go well beyond cost savings, Toole said, by also offering the resilience and flexibility IBM needs as it pushes its people out to where its emerging customers are, as it refines its set of products and services with a particular emphasis on business analytics, and as it looks to further optimize the 200 or so applications that Toole says are absolutely critical to IBM's global operations.

And as he speaks with CIOs from outside IBM and pursues these massive IT projects that have allowed IBM to take out $3 billion in costs over the past three years with more to come, Toole says he tries to think on three levels simultaneously:

--Short-term: how IT can help leverage the ongoing financial performance of IBM;

--Strategic: where is the enterprise going, and what will the potential impact be of things like the SAP project, the infrastructure consolidations, the cloud projects, and gains from virtualization;

--Risk and compliance: what are you doing each day to ensure I'm always improving our stance on this?

With those in mind, Toole believes, CIOs can avoid the fate he said awaits those who refuse to shake off the supremacy of cost-cutting: "If they don't come out of that cost-cutting mode and help drive the transformation of their company, they're going to be irrelevant."

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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

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