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IBM the Next Great Software Company?

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the brave-new-world dept.

IBM 132

Diomidis Spinellis writes "A report in this week's Economist discusses IBM's globalization strategy and the company's presence in India. Refreshingly, the article admits that there's more to outsourcing than cheap labor, contrasting IBM's calculated investments with Apple's rapid pull-out from Bangalore. Although the jury is still out on how sluggish multinationals can compete with vigorous tigers, it seems that IBM has a credible strategy for becoming the next great software company, and that outsourcing is only a part of the puzzle."

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132 comments

IBM is in the computer business now? (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | about 7 years ago | (#18623709)

What a retarded article. They were (and still are) the first great software company.

I remember cheering Microsoft for toppling their monopoly.

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (3, Insightful)

flynt (248848) | about 7 years ago | (#18623783)

You do realize something can be a former X without precluding it from being a future X. IBM may have been the first great software company, but it does not follow that it will not be the next great software company. Is that your assertion? Grover Cleveland may beg to differ.

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18625289)

IMHO, Grover Cleveland was never more than a second rate software company.

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (1)

JordanL (886154) | about 7 years ago | (#18623839)

I remember cheering Microsoft for toppling their monopoly.
IBM can be a vicious company, but damn if they don't usually end up with an excellent product.

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (4, Insightful)

anomalous cohort (704239) | about 7 years ago | (#18624157)

IBM is a great hardware company. It has never been known for great software. Ask anybody who has had to use JCL. The inventors of IEFBR14 could never be known as a great software company.

I will admit that Eclipse [eclipse.org] is an excellent application but does anyone here remember Visual Age for Java? That app was seriously FUBAR and it would clobber ODBC on the machine when you uninstalled it which you invariably would since that is how bad Visual Age for Java was.

I'd like to know the story behind those two products. How could the same company produce two products with such disparate quality? Is the open source development model so superior that even a company like IBM can learn to make great software? Is it possible for a mega corp, like IBM, to be able to turn itself around and learn from its failures to start producing such great success? I haven't a clue.

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (4, Insightful)

JordanL (886154) | about 7 years ago | (#18624341)

I suppose that depends. IBM has never been known for great consumer software, business or personal.

As far I'm aware however, IBM is known for great development software, especially for inhouse dev cycles and hardware. Octopiler anyone?

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (1)

PitaBred (632671) | about 7 years ago | (#18625601)

Yeah. Their consulting services overpromise and underdeliver though. I've seen a number of their projects fail at a big customer's site.

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (5, Informative)

darjen (879890) | about 7 years ago | (#18624719)

IBM is a great hardware company. It has never been known for great software. Ask anybody who has had to use JCL. The inventors of IEFBR14 could never be known as a great software company.
Ever hear of their Webphere Commerce suite of products? There are large companies all over the place that are built on it. My employer consults with and builds web sites for many of them. In fact I'd say their software is more solid than anything from Oracle or Sun. These last few months I have been building an internal application based on Oracle's technology/middleware stack and let me tell you, it is flaky as hell. I guess there's a reason most of my company uses Websphere Commerce to build enterprise applications...

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (1)

raftpeople (844215) | about 7 years ago | (#18625295)

While I have used my fair share of IBM software produts that made me want to scream, it needs to be pointed out that the operating system for the as400 is one of the best business server OS's produced (object based, organization, stability, security, scalability, abstraction from hardware, etc. etc.)

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18625505)

Visual Age for Java... that app was seriously FUBAR

Hey... I liked VisualAge For Java. I used versions 1.X.. Sure, it did have a few bugs (repository corruption problems were bad, bad, and more bad), but it really was ahead of its time as an IDE. It had a lot of advanced features (like J2EE development perspectives and wizards) that were the standard bearer for the industry, bar none. I don't believe that Eclipse would be where it is today without the technologies developed in (and lessons leared from) VAJ.

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | about 7 years ago | (#18625541)

The inventors of IEFBR14

It's been sooooo long but let me see if I can drag it out of memory... "Probable programmer error"?

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (1)

anomalous cohort (704239) | about 7 years ago | (#18628071)

In the world of the IBM 360 mainframe, only the JES (Job Entry Subsystem) was allowed to do any file maintenance. So, in order to copy or move a file, you had to invoke a program. The program wouldn't and couldn't copy the file. You invoked the program using JCL (Job Control Language) and in that job step that invoked the program, you would specify the disposition of the file(s). That is how you could copy or move a file, in the disposition part of the job step.

But what if that is all you needed to do? Each job step in JCL had to launch some program. What program should you invoke if all you wanted to do was copy the file? The program itself should do as little as possible since you weren't interested in what the program did. That is why IBM provided application IEFBR14. That program had one assembler instruction in it. Namely, BR 14 or branch on register 14. Register 14 held the address in memory of the part of the O.S. that a program needed to return control too when it was done.

Did it work? Sure, but why should I have to execute a program that does nothing more than return control to the O.S. when all I wanted to do was copy a file? It isn't logical. It doesn't make any sense. To put it in modern terms, what would you think about a spreadsheet application that didn't have a save menu? In order to save, you just had to click on any menu? Sounds insane to me.

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (1)

Arainach (906420) | about 7 years ago | (#18627895)

OS/360 (and everything that it eventually evolved into) was nothing short of revolutionary. For 20-30 years, IBM was the company to turn to for reliable software.

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (1)

WillerZ (814133) | about 7 years ago | (#18628493)

IEFBR14 is now about 30 years old, and in all that time there have only been 2 bugs reported:
1) IEFBR14 doesn't set a return code; this was reported and fixed about 25 years ago
2) IEFBR14 source contains no comments; this was reported and fixed about 20 years ago

Show me another product which has that kind of bugs/time ratio...

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#18626219)

I remember cheering Microsoft for toppling their monopoly.

      It takes a brave person to admit that. I bet you feel a bit silly NOW though, don't you? :D

Re:IBM is in the computer business now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626617)

And in serious decline. On the way up, they're not.

"IBM" and "Great Softare" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18623819)

Please never say "IBM" and "Great Software" in the same sentence. Notes, WebSphere, RSM, ClearCase, ClearQuest, ReqPro, etc. have all become horrifically aweful under IBM. IBM is a services company, not a software company.

Re:"IBM" and "Great Softare" (1, Flamebait)

superpulpsicle (533373) | about 7 years ago | (#18624129)

There should be a rule that IBM should never acquire anybody ever again. Aside from that, this article is the most useless piece of marketing.

They got the best *nix in AIX and they technologically don't know what to do with it. So they buy linux. And they barely know what to do with that.

Re:"IBM" and "Great Softare" (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | about 7 years ago | (#18624197)

So they buy linux

Huh? Where? When?

Re:"IBM" and "Great Softare" (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | about 7 years ago | (#18624415)

They buy the rights to deploy linux I should say.

Re:"IBM" and "Great Softare" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624711)

"hey buy the rights to deploy linux I should say."

From who?

Re:"IBM" and "Great Softare" (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#18626173)

"hey buy the rights to deploy linux I should say."

From who?


      Heck I'll sell them! Just sign here, and the CD is yours... uh sign quickly please. You brought the cash right? I'm allergic to checks, doctor says I can't see one. Hey can I interest you in our special on bridges this month? How about an Eiffel Tower?

Re:"aweful" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624889)

Aweful? You mean "full of awe"?

There 's a reason Apple's not in India. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18623825)

Apple is a marketing firm. They are in the fashion and luxury items business, not the nuts and bolts computer business. The probably spend more on internet marketing (including astroturfing) than they do in-house manufacturing.

Re:There 's a reason Apple's not in India. (1)

e4g4 (533831) | about 7 years ago | (#18625369)

According to Apple's 2006 Annual report [corporate-ir.net](PDF Warning) Apple spent approximately $300 million on marketing last fiscal year(p. 96) and had approximately $20 billion in net sales, from which the gross margin of these sales totalled only about $5 billion(p.113-114). So, a little subtraction: $20 billion - $5 billion = $15 billion. This is the total manufacturing costs of Apple's products, which is approximately 50 times what they spent on marketing. Furthermore, Apple spent approximately $700 billion on R&D, meaning the ratio of R&D to marketing costs is higher than that of most of the big pharmaceutical companies. With this data and your metric for defining a company's primary purpose, I'd conclude that Bristol Meyer Squib is more of a marketing firm than Apple.

Re:There 's a reason Apple's not in India. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626473)

I cannot believe how much product placement they do... It's totally obnoxious.

-The stupid apple switch ads
-Seeing ipods or their laptops in too many movies (like again at the beginning of Wild Hogs with the lame laptop scene) -- I'm especially getting tired of that one
-I saw job ads on various jobs sites for such astroturfing (e.g. "get paid to use our products in public")

It seems like they're focusing on the fashion and luxury indeed. They make a commercial proprietary/closed OS - much like Windows, which runs only on their own (sucky) hardware configurations -- in "designer" cases.

If I didn't need compatibility with Windows apps/binaries, I'd be using Linux -- Free/free, open source, runs on the hardware you want.

Macs only seem to have their expensive "high-end" machine (not that high-end -- mainly the price is), or you're stuck with a machine with a tiny and slow laptop HD (and it also came with not much RAM when it first came out), and no DVD burner for the basic config... If they took the guts of the mini in a plain ATX case, with a 3.5" HD (like a 320GB or maybe even a 500), and used any old DVD burner (they're like 30$ now), then you'd have a machine I'd be interested in...

Re:There 's a reason Apple's not in India. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18629159)

-I saw job ads on various jobs sites for such astroturfing (e.g. "get paid to use our products in public")


link?

IBM's Strategy (-1, Troll)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 7 years ago | (#18623841)

As far as I can tell, IBM's strategy is to make crummy products, sell them to gullible IT departments (or habitual ones that buy IBM just because it's IBM), then sell expensive consulting services to make their crummy products work nearly as well as the cheaper competition. Sadly, IBM seems to have a stranglehold on healthcare.

The textbook case would, of course, be Lotus Domino/Notes. Which is more expensive per-seat than Outlook/Exchange and lacks many (I would say very basic) features that Outlook gives you as part of the package. To make matters worse, it has terrible usability and runs sluggish to annoy your users. For only massive amounts of moolah, you can hire IBM consultants to halfway kind of fix these problems, maybe.

Sure, Microsoft sells consulting services as well, but the difference is that the Microsoft products at least work pretty well on their own for the majority of businesses, so only huge shops really need to involve Microsoft consultants in the process.

But, hey, "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM."

Re:IBM's Strategy (2, Insightful)

shotgunsaint (968677) | about 7 years ago | (#18623889)

Lotus Notes is definitely some pretty clunky bloatware... but have you ever had to administer an Exchange server? It's a nightmare. As I have no experience administering a Lotus Notes server, I can only imagine it would be slightly less convoluted.

Re:IBM's Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18627779)

Just because YOU can't imagine Lotus Notes being worse doesn't mean it is...

Re:IBM's Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18623987)

Obviously, you have never seen migration from NT domain to AD. Or from Exchange X to X+1.

Yes, Microsoft products also require consultants, they just don't work for Microsoft, they are "partners". They are the people who push Microsoft products.

Re:IBM's Strategy (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 7 years ago | (#18624015)

I work as an IT Consultant whenever I get something done ahead of schedule or give consulting advice that actually benefits my client more then myself I usually go. Well we are not IBM Global Services, we are actually a good consulting firm.

Re:IBM's Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624147)

As far as I can tell, IBM's strategy is to make crummy products, sell them to gullible IT departments (or habitual ones that buy IBM just because it's IBM), then sell expensive consulting services to make their crummy products work nearly as well as the cheaper competition.

Nice Troll.

Re:IBM's Strategy (3, Informative)

mmell (832646) | about 7 years ago | (#18624225)

"As far as I can tell . . ."

So all you know about IBM is that they make Lotus Notes, right (which I'll grant you, it's a pig)? And of course, you've never had any up-close time with MicroSoft's Outlook/Exhange product, so it's just peachy, right?

Let's see - MicroSoft took DOS (a perfectly great system which performed almost exactly as advertised) and turned it into Windows Vista. Hmmm . . . were you saying something about a track record for selling "crummy products"?

Let's see . . . MicroSoft Office . . . seems to me that no version of MicroSoft Office has ever shipped which didn't almost immediately require patching to correct some more-or-less egregious flaw.

As for MicroSoft's partners - I used to be a contractor working to install/configure/integrate MicroSoft products. I personally never saw MicroSoft products "work pretty well on their own" for businesses I went to . . . that's why in 1994 I was worth $5,000.00/week as a consultant - to make those MicroSoft products work "pretty well".

MMmmm, nope (5, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#18624291)

The textbook case would, of course, be Lotus Domino/Notes. Which is more expensive per-seat than Outlook/Exchange
Sorry, Notes isn't just an email/groupware client/server like Exchange. It's a distributed application and database platform. And yes, it takes more work than your typical MS certified whatever can handle. Many of them don't even understand the benefits of the system. Set up and developed by a competent team, Notes can transform the way business processes work.

 

Re:MMmmm, nope (1)

Dr Caleb (121505) | about 7 years ago | (#18624387)

Two thinbs up!

This is slashdot, people always blame the 'clueless Admins', unless they are discussing Notes.

IBM is still the one company that writes more software titles for Windows than does Microsoft.

Re:MMmmm, nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624643)

has anyone ever found a competent team? notes is a train wreck so the only transformation you get is people leaving stickies on the cube walls.

way to go ibm

Re:MMmmm, nope (1)

Otter (3800) | about 7 years ago | (#18625103)

Set up and developed by a competent team, Notes can transform the way business processes work.

Gee, now I feel guilty for complaining about the 20 archived emails Notes corrupted a couple of days ago!

Re:MMmmm, nope (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 7 years ago | (#18625905)

This is the standard response. The standard response to that response is:

1) IBM advertises and markets it as a groupware product, therefore IBM has no right to complain when people compare it to another groupware product. While you can create apps in Notes to do all sorts of things, the app it ships, and installs by default, is a groupware app. If you were handed a Notes CD out of the blue and installed it, you wouldn't know it did anything except groupware functions.

2) Regardless of what the program is, it's no excuse for:
  A) Bloated performance, where opening a single email frequently takes upwards of 10 seconds. God help you if you use the calendar or attempt to sync to a Palm device... expect to spend all afternoon.

  B) Blatant bugs, for instance, 'out of office' notifications taking more than an entire day to take effect, or allowing meetings that end before they begin in the calendar (which then causes crashes of the Palm syncing software.) IBM themselves publishes an app you need to use periodically to fix Notes when Notes craps all over itself, leaves zombie processes running and refuses to launch again.

  C) Terrible usability design. Get an email (or any document, for the 'it's not groupware!' crowd) in one folder, drag it to another folder, then delete it from the original folder. That email is now gone FROM BOTH FOLDERS! (Turns out Notes doesn't actually copy when you drag from folder to folder, it creates a shortcut instead.) The Notes client on Macintosh looks exactly like the Notes client on Windows.

I'm sorry. If the class of "distributed database clients" includes Filemaker Pro, Microsoft Access, and Lotus Notes... Lotus Notes by far is at the bottom of the scale.

And if the class of "groupware products" includes Microsoft Outlook, Novell Groupwise (disclaimer: I haven't used it in ages), and Lotus Notes... well, Lotus Notes is by far at the bottom of the scale.

It's just a crummy piece of software.

Re:MMmmm, nope (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#18626783)

I'm sorry. If the class of "distributed database clients"
No it isn't just a distributed database either. It's a distributed application and database platform. Hell it's even described in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_notes#Programmi ng [wikipedia.org]

It gets marketed as a groupware system because that's all most people can understand about it. That's a criticism of most IT staff and management btw and possibly an explanation of why most company's infrastructures are so fucked.

It's just a crummy piece of software.
What you really mean is you're simply not up to the job of operating it competently. It's a tool. Do I think it's all roses? By no means, but when set up, operated and developed for competently it's a competent bit of kit. It simply reflects the quality of the team behind it.

 

And your basis for this is?? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624351)

Fact:

- IBM's revenue was over $90 Billion in 2006 excluding PC sales
- Software accounted for 40% of their revenue
- WebShere grew 23%
- Notes grew 12%

You and/or your company either aren't very good admins or your just a MS shill

Re:IBM's Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624891)

... at least work pretty well on their own...

"pretty well" ha ha. Have you even used it? I've made over $250,000 at various helpdesks picking up after its royal crumminess. My customers ask me, "Why does it happen (IE stop responding, for example)?" to which I have to say, "because Microsoft doesn't care that the software they sell sucks since people are buying it anyway."

Re:IBM's Strategy (5, Informative)

morzel (62033) | about 7 years ago | (#18624893)

Chances are you're just a rabid anti-Notes troll, but I'll bite anyway.

Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange are different products: the first is a "groupware" platform that happens to do mail, the other is a mail server that might be linked to some other Microsoft platforms (notably: sharepoint). The Notes client can be used for accessing "databases" (which are actually a container with semi-structured data and application logic in one), for which IBM provides a "mail database" that is kinda capable of handling mail. Outlook is a superb mail client that does nothing else unless you've got someone willing to create "outlook foms" that link to other MS technologies.

The good about Domino/Notes:

  • Domino is multiplatform, Notes kinda (current Linux client is barely usable)
  • Security is a design fundamental in Notes/Domino. Notes has been doing private key crypto and signed code before Exchange was even conceived.
  • Domino/Notes is way better when integration company processes/workflows in your mail environment.
  • Restoring backed up mails/documents/databases can be done relatively easy, and has been like that for at least 12 years.
The bad:
  • The Notes UI is infamous because it is so different from Windows and counter-intuitive to some people. This is for the major part historical (i.e.: Notes has been developed as a multiplatform client, and it includes a lot of legacy). If you want you can easily update the design of your mail database and replace it with an open source one (try that with Outlook ;-) -- see openntf.org for that. If you really want, you can just use outlook with Lotus Domino natively with the DAMO plugin.
  • The learning curve for Domino administration is steeper than that of MS Exchange. The impact of a good administrator versus a not-so-good one will be much more visible in a Domino environment than in an Exchange/outlook environment. Getting both to go further than a couple of machines requires good admins regardless of the technology
The actual cost per user won't differ that much between either platform, and the featureset is different. If you're a Microsoft shop and have an all-windows datacenter, SQL Server, Sharepoint portal and whatnot you'll be installing Exchange. If you're not already linked as much to Microsoft technologies chances are that Domino/Notes is a better choice. If you're sensitive regarding security (or having to abide to certain security regulations), Domino/Notes is probably your best shot (a lot of banks think so, anyway).

So, it's not a black and white issue, and there are very good reasons why Notes and Domino can be a better choice for a particular situation.

Disclaimer: I know a thing or two about IBM/Lotus technologies (and of Microsoft and Linux, so don't hold that against me ;-)

Re:IBM's Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18627407)

The good about Domino/Notes:

        * Domino is multiplatform, Notes kinda (current Linux client is barely usable)

The latest Notes 8 client for Linux is pretty good. Only released as a beta at the moment but snappy and pretty much the same as the Windows version. Mostly the same codebase now that it's all Java/Eclipse based.

Why is that a Troll? (1)

wsanders (114993) | about 7 years ago | (#18626243)

The only troll-ish thing the parent post is that it songle out IBM; all the other bloated shiteware providers like CA and BMC work exactly the same way.

Mostly, it's the fault of the users. *Some* of IBM, BMC, and CA's stuff isn't crap, but any good sales rep is perfectly willing to sell all the bells and whistles to gullible users who want every feature glommed onto everything, until the whole creaking mess takes a support staff of a dozen consultants to run. Eleven of whom might be supporting the data mining or "dashboard" or some other such shoddily engineered add-on that produces reports that one one ever, ever reads after the initial requirements are met.

Re:IBM's Strategy (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 7 years ago | (#18626297)

As far as I can tell, IBM's strategy is to make crummy products, sell them to gullible IT departments (or habitual ones that buy IBM just because it's IBM), then sell expensive consulting services to make their crummy products work nearly as well as the cheaper competition. Sadly, IBM seems to have a stranglehold on healthcare.

No, that's their old strategy, before Microsoft took over as top dog. You got another thing wrong: IBM didn't sell to IT departments, but to people above IT departments. It was a lot easier to talk a higher-level executive into staying true Blue than somebody who actually had to make IBM's stuff work.

Still, their products did work. They were awful expensive for what you got, and often rather clumsy (the only reason JCL wasn't an absolutely horrible design was that there was no actual design), but they worked for the majority of businesses. Just like Microsoft products: they work mostly, they're expensive, there's some real problems. The difference, I guess, is that IBM did share source code, and there was a thriving community that was darn close to the open source community (although far too corporate to resemble the free software community).

Interesting (3, Interesting)

dedazo (737510) | about 7 years ago | (#18623843)

When Slashdot reports anything about outsourcing the consensus around here seems to be that it's bad and evil. Especially when it involves someone like Microsoft, like when Gates says more visas are needed.

But when it's IBM, it's "refreshing" and "interesting"? That's just too funny.

Re:Interesting (4, Informative)

JordanL (886154) | about 7 years ago | (#18623953)

Actually, I think the article was saying that it was refreshing to see someone talk about outsourcing as more than cheap labor, not that the outsourcing was itself good or bad.

Just a wild guess (1)

pkbarbiedoll (851110) | about 7 years ago | (#18624093)

Could it be that "the consensus" is entirely accurate for the most part, and that outsourcing only benefits those receiving the jobs?

Right now in Redmond.... (-1, Offtopic)

vidarlo (134906) | about 7 years ago | (#18623965)

Balmer: Get me a chair. Quick
Security: Yes sir...
Balmer: It's those fucking blue idiots. After creating our market with the PS/2, they want to take away or god-given right!
*Smashes chair*

Re:Right now in Redmond.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624379)

Wow, that was funny.

Interesting (4, Insightful)

teknopurge (199509) | about 7 years ago | (#18623967)

I find it fascinating that the article calls out IBM's presence in India as anything more then an accounting advantage, especially with all the issues of late with India's college system. I was very interested to learn that many bachelor degrees that come from Indian Universities are no where near as comprehensive or difficult to get then the majority of our public universities, not even mentioning our private or elite schools.

For all the concern about the Indian Technologists and how they were going to commoditize software development, somewhere along the way all the 'experts' forgot they wern't comparing apples-to-apples with regard to their qualifications and education.

Flame on. =) (I jest, but my comment is a very real issue.)

Re:Interesting (1)

xzvf (924443) | about 7 years ago | (#18624589)

The only reason in the US that private or elite degrees are harder to get is because the cost is 5x public universities. I suspect India has similar issues.

Re:Interesting (1)

teknopurge (199509) | about 7 years ago | (#18625943)

My point was that the information i have read over the past year paints a different picture: on the whole, a high-school education with some AP classes in the US matches up well comparatively with the knowledge attained though the 3rd year of the majority of Indian collegiate programs.

Re:Interesting (4, Interesting)

Undertaker43017 (586306) | about 7 years ago | (#18625097)

Having worked for a company that outsourced a couple of projects to India, I can tell you that all companies care about is how much money it is saving them right this minute. I told my boss repeatedly, and he told his boss, etc on up the chain that the quality wasn't nearly the same, the answer always came back, "Yeah, but it is costing $Y less to do it!".

Companies have a very short term focus on the bottom line, it's all about making sure the "street" is happy next quarter, so cut all of the costs you can. Long term doesn't matter to them anymore, because the average life span of a C-level executive is 1-2 years, so they don't care what happens to the company in 3 years, they are on some beach enjoying their mult-million dollar severance. Hum... maybe more companies should compensate their C-level executives based on their and the companies performance, and no "golden parachutes". ;)

Fail more often (1)

chiph (523845) | about 7 years ago | (#18628025)

A coworker pointed out that if an outsourcing firm bills(1) you only a third what an American development team would, that allows the business to fail three times before they've spent as much as they otherwise would have.

Chip H.


(1) Note that I consider cost a different data point from what they bill you. e.g. There is an opportunity cost in failing three times.

Re:Fail more often (1)

Undertaker43017 (586306) | about 7 years ago | (#18628615)

When it takes five times as long to get it right, so you can ship a product, it erases any cost advantage.

What India is going through with their education problem, really isn't all that different than what the US went through during the Dot Bomb years. There were many people in IT that had NO business being there. People jumped on the bandwagon, because IT is where the money was, just like India.

Unfortunately for the US, with the "money" moving to medical over the next 10-15 years, due to all of the Baby Boomers retiring, I fear for the quality of medical care in the US over that span...

IBM understands how the maths work (4, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#18623975)

Things like MQseries, Notes, TSM. They understand how these products mathematically benefit customers. A lot of other software houses have no clue how to actually benefit businesses, they just want to sell software. I'm not saying that no others can do the same job, but IBM is a one stop shop of best practices.

 

Re:IBM understands how the maths work (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | about 7 years ago | (#18626091)

...but IBM is a one stop shop of best practices.

Hmm.... Have you actually used Notes?

Re:IBM understands how the maths work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18627893)

Notes is the best piece of software there is for direct translation of a paper bureaucracy to a computer network. Yes, that's incredibly annoying if you're a geek, but once again, Lotus/IBM is just supplying what the business/government customer wants.

Fake Steve Jobs nailed this, as usual. (3, Interesting)

PavementPizza (907876) | about 7 years ago | (#18624059)

You gotta hand it to IBM [blogspot.com]

No matter how crappy their business is they can always find a chunk of fool's gold in the pile of dogshit and then get someone in the media (or everyone in the media) to focus on that. Latest example was this story [wsj.com] in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about how IBM's software division is just setting the world on fire. According to our spies at Fortune, IBM's flacks have been shopping this story around since January. At last someone bit. Wow, software sales were up 14% in the last quarter and a galloping 7% for the full year, and now Steve Mills is the second coming of Gerstner. Never mind that the way IBM did this was to move some revenue that used to get recognized in other categories over into the "software" division. Never mind that IBM spent $4.8 billion acquiring companies last year, and most of that went to software shops. Never mind that IBM's track record in software has been to buy up companies and ride them into the ground. Total assets at the end of 2006 are lower than at any time since 2002. Liabilities up, working capital down. Oh well. Who cares when that software division is setting the world on fire, baby?

Remember when the IBM story was the services division? Then that crapped out. Then they tried the "second coming of the mainframe" story. Then it was Linux. Then it was "business transformation outsourcing," which our good pals at Fortune swallowed and said here [cnn.com] was a $500 billion market, "an ocean of potential revenue" that IBM was going to tap into. They predicted IBM would top $100 billion in revenues by 2005. Ahem.

Well, now it's software. Yup. That red-hot IBM software division. You know, someone ought to profile the one division that really is hot at IBM and which never gets any credit: the publicity department.

Re:Fake Steve Jobs nailed this, as usual. (4, Insightful)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | about 7 years ago | (#18624361)

Your post would be really insightful if IBM wasn't making money hand-over-fist [marketwatch.com]. Unfortunately for you, the dollar signs in the 'profit' lines appear to back up the article. Apparently, IBM's track record also happens to include a few customers that are happy with their purchase.

Re:Fake Steve Jobs nailed this, as usual. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624647)

A few, as in few. give me a break. IBM can play with accounting practices all they want... they are still just as weak as MS and Sun, but somehow idiots keep them all afloat. must be people like you with no clue...

Re:Fake Steve Jobs nailed this, as usual. (1)

PavementPizza (907876) | about 7 years ago | (#18628947)

I was going for funny, not insightful. Fake Steve Jobs is humor, with a hint of truth, as all the best humor has. The hint of truth here is about journalistic pliancy: that IBM can declare itself the zillion-ton gorilla of [insert field here], and the press, including Slashdot, will obediently run with the story. Same way they run with Microsoft's payola reports from Gartner for middle-management and treat them as gospel truth.

Uhhh... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624295)

The answer is no... have you seen their ManageNow software?!

More choices (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#18624297)

there's more to outsourcing than cheap labor,

Perhaps, but if cheap labor was not the main factor, they would be growing outsourcing to Germany, Canada, etc.

But outsourcing does offer them more choices. In want ads, companies always ask for "5 years of Foo, 10 years of Bar, 5 years of OOXML, etc. etc. etc. etc.". The more countries you have to comb for staff, the better chance that you will find somebody who matches your eclectic desired skills combinations. However, this is still not good news for techies unless other countries do the reverse also, but for the most part they are not. I hope the next administration requires reciprical service trading (and perhaps manufacturing trade also). Otherwise our trade deficit will be even bigger than the fat bubble it already is. Why do we keep relearning bubble lessons the hard way?
       

Re:More choices (2, Insightful)

trongey (21550) | about 7 years ago | (#18624781)

...In want ads, companies always ask for "5 years of Foo, 10 years of Bar, 5 years of OOXML, etc. etc. etc. etc.". The more countries you have to comb for staff, the better chance that you will find somebody who matches your eclectic desired skills combinations...

News Flash!
When you see an add with those rediculous qualifications the company has already got a deal with their H1B candidate. They advertise with outrageous requirements so they can say that the necessary skill set isn't available domestically.

Oh please... (0, Flamebait)

DrPeper (249585) | about 7 years ago | (#18624325)

IBMs failures in Software creation and marketing that software read like a list of accomplishments of an alcoholic and a bartenders flair competition.

PC Dos - Dead
OS2 - Dead
Pink - Dead before it was born.
Tivoli - you hardly ever even see this anymore.

I'm sure I'm missing quite a few others.

Not to mention making and marketing PC's themselves. IBM was the first big player, now they don't make them anymore (sold it all to Lenovo).

Just ask any major financial biz (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624517)

how much they depend upon Websphere MQ to run their operation.
Then compare it with MQMQ and hope you don't die laughing.

Yep, some IBM software is utter crap but there are some bits that Microsoft can only have wet dreams about.
for example, Websphere Message Broker vs BizTalk

I don't work for IBM but IMHO, in the Middleware sector WMQ is the only real game in town.

Notes is a far broader product that Exchange and for the most part puts Microsoft's offering into a cocked hat.

If IBM really got their act together then they could become a Dominant player in software. This is however about as likely as me winning the Lottery (I don't play...)

Re:Just ask any major financial biz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18628711)

Well, on behalf of myself and the rest of the WMQ development organisation: thanks for the pep talk :-)

Posting as AC because I don't want to have to wear my IBM hat (yes I do have one) every time I post here...

Old news (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624475)

Last year, IBM reported over $18 billion in revenue [ibm.com] from Software alone. Which is more total revenue than Oracle [msn.com], SAP [msn.com], and every other software company not named Microsoft earned last year. I'd say IBM already is great software company (or at least a large one).

IBM from the Inside (5, Informative)

Hypharse (633766) | about 7 years ago | (#18624651)

I have been working in IBM Research for the last year and have witnessed a lot of the bad and a lot of the good I heard about IBM while outside it. I have witnessed the shift in IBM to Software and Services. One person in my group is from India and he talks occasionally about the plants IBM opens there employing like 50,000 people in one plant. They are nearly all entry level and the turnover rate is high due to their bad education systems. About IBM, the bad and the good that I have witnessed. The Bad: There are plenty of clueless people in charge making the decisions for everyone else. There are plenty of brilliant people working in IBM, but they are put on the same level and sometimes even a lower level than others. Many phds are not allowed to actually do their research, but instead are used to try and create ways to keep existing, flawed, processes going. They are also pushing many people into the "Services" side and they occasionally treat people who are not part of that "next big thing" like crap. When I started the group I am in had 6 very smart phds from premier programs in their field. We lost one to retirement and IBM would not allow for a replacement. Another was forced into the "Services" end but instead just quit and is working for another company. Now we are down to 4 and the others who have been there a lot longer than I have are very frustrated at IBM basically telling them they are not important because they are not part of this "next big wave". The Good: If you are lucky enough to get in the right groups that have money IBM is a great place to research ideas. Also, IBM has made many advances that are not talked about widely so that one post about IBM only getting a couple things right and pushing them to the extreme is bogus. IBM issues more patents per year than most countries and they generate billions from those patents. I was told (don't know if it is for sure a fact) that IBM makes more money from the PS3 and from the XBOX360 than Microsoft or Sony. You hear about IBM being involved with the PS3 because of the cell processor, but most people would be surprised to hear that IBM did a lot of the work for the XBOX360 as well.

Re:IBM from the Inside (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#18626067)

about the plants IBM opens there employing like 50,000 people in one plant.

      God, can you imagine the payroll? 82 loaves of bread, 20 gallons of milk, and a case of beans. Per month! Sigh, way too expensive.

      Seriously outsourcing is a "Good Thing" (on paper) for the host country, since they learn from all you foreigners and start charging more for their services after a surprisingly short time. Unfortunately the quality of product/service is nowhere near the same - as anyone who has purchased a car made in Mexico or Brazil; a motorcycle made in India or Thailand; or anyone who has tried to get a non-scripted technical problem solved in an offshore call center, can tell you.

      I suppose eventually the workers that are on payroll learn to do their job properly (after all, people in the third world are not stupid, they just have a whole different set of cultural priorities) - but when you lose one and have to replace him/her, the training starts all over again from zero.

      So business benefits because it gets cheap (at first glance) labor, and probably many relaxed environmental controls - and perhaps even a favorable tax break from the local government that's desperate for cash. The country gets its environment trashed because of those lax environmental controls. The workers benefit, but the rest of the population suffers because of the inflationary pressure that comes about from some people suddenly having a lot more money (and everyone else wanting some of it). And the customers who actually buy the product get an inferior product at the same or greater price as before. Hmmm.

      No the only good thing about outsourcing is it closes the economic gap a bit between the poor countries and the rich. Don't kid yourself into thinking there's no hidden economic cost, however.

os/2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624657)

"OS/2 the next big thing"

mod 0p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624705)

locating #GNAA, or a public club, Niggers everywhere insisted that Wash off hands BSD 7anatics? I've when IDC recently very own shitter, that support see... The number I type this. 'Yes' to any feel obligated to 7uck I'll find GNAA (GAY NIGGER committerbase and then Jordan Hubbard a need to play of OpenBSD. How May be hurting the Gawker At most 486/66 with 8 You should bring Ops or any of the steadily fucking You loved that United States of If you do not FreeBSD core team it racist for a startling turn = 1400 NetBSD Don't feel that my efforts were trouble. It Fact: *BSD IS A OpenBSD. How many BSD had become

GNAA, poets on Internets. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18625107)

Thanks for keeping it cool here on SD

Software company? (0, Flamebait)

matt me (850665) | about 7 years ago | (#18624805)

Can anyone name any software IBM produce? I don't think I use any.

Re:Software company? (5, Insightful)

edward350z (1084677) | about 7 years ago | (#18625051)

No, you probably don't use any IBM software on your *PeeCee*. However, your company's accounting department probably uses an IBM mainframe running CICS. That airline ticket you booked on Orbitz went through IBM WebSphere to an IBM MQSeries server to IBM DB2, etc. If you drive a Honda/Acura automobile with voice-activated navigation, that's IBM ViaVoice. If you use Linux, a good chunk of the recent kernel patches were developed by folks on IBM's payroll. IBM is like Tyco or 3M -- they're involved in EVERYTHING you touch even if you don't see their branding front and center. Anyone who thinks IBM isn't a software company clearly does not have a big picture view of the IT world.

Re:Software company? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18628255)

Yep, and I curse it every day. My company uses ClearQuest for bug tracking, and it's the sorriest bug tracker I've ever seen. It makes Bugzilla look phenomenal. It's slow as hell, it goes down every day, it's impossible to use, and despite apparently having IBM consultants working for over a year they haven't fixed these problems. Burn in hell, IBM.

Re:Software company? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18628609)

As a matter of honesty and fairness, virtually all bug tracking software is slow, prone to crashing, and terrible in terms of usability.

Re:Software company? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18628971)

I feel your pain. Hopefully you do not endure the hell that is the UCM suite: CrapCase, CrapQuest, Rational Shit Modeller, ReqPro, and my personal favorite ... RUP. IBM must have amazing salesmen with big balls to sell their crap at the prices they do.

Did they grow up? (2, Informative)

BluedemonX (198949) | about 7 years ago | (#18624823)

This has been around for a while, and there's no jokes about Kwik-E marts, convenience stores, grape squishee or curry. Glad to see the juvenile racist crap that we used to see spat at articles like this almost instantly seems to be gone.

Re:Did they grow up? (0, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#18625761)

Glad to see the juvenile racist crap that we used to see spat at articles like this almost instantly seems to be gone.

"Thank you, come again!"

Rumors going around for years (1)

beerdini (1051422) | about 7 years ago | (#18625037)

I've been hearing since 2004 that IBM was going to buy Novell, which the rumor spread faster after Novell purchased SUSE and partnered with IBM and started co-branding some Linux training packages. The rumors took off again in 2006 at Brainshare where most of the signs around the conference were white and blue rather than the red and white that is typical of the host's branding colors. Looks like they missed out and MS swallowed their soul instead.

From down below you hear a voice... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#18625531)

it seems that IBM has a credible strategy for becoming the next great software company

      And it belongs to the chairman of SCO, saying "by stealing other people's code, you bastaaaaaaaards!"

      But hey, if it worked for Microsoft... (ducking and running)

Thjis FP forL GNAA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626147)

sad8ess And it was rea7 problems with the laundry very distracting to

IBM Sucks (1)

Lt. Pierogi (719477) | about 7 years ago | (#18626299)

I work for a very large IBM business partner, and we use IBM products almost exclusively. Anything IBM has developed themselves is a piece of shit. IBM has done the following to us: Released software that would not work. After struggling with it for weeks they will finally admit it does not work. They constantly reintroduce bugs when they release new versions. The have no version control. They provide horrable customer support. Often it seems like we pay for the privilidge of reporting bugs to them. They will throw you under the bus as soon as they get an oppertunity. When the customer gets upset for the poor quality of software they will blame thier business partners for poor implementation. Thier release cycle is 100% based on getting stuff out the door on time. This is why they release garbage that does not work.

firsT (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626517)

to ItS laid-back

Welcome, friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18627849)

I, for one, welcome our new green-screened overlords.

I have been watching people type that for more than a year. It is liberating.

It seems like the only mistake they could make... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18628917)

Now what year was it that itty bitty machines spelled their name in electrons? And they want to venture into the swamp of mediocrity that is software? oh... (thinks of all the trillions to make with a better product) I didn't realize how much of an artform hardware was until I saw Murder by Phone and they were designing a chip on the wall of a building right near the front door of a corporation headquarters...

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