Business 2.0 writes about Steve Mills, who heads IBM’s software business and is set to take on Microsoft “in a battle that will shape enterprise computing.”
Instead of thousands of software products, Mills now mainly oversees four complementary lines of Java-based middleware: DB2, which stores and retrieves data; WebSphere, which helps applications work together over the Internet; Lotus, which handles Web-based collaboration and e-mail; and Tivoli, which manages networks. Mills now has a small army of salespeople: The software group has 10,000 of its own, plus those who work at its 9,000 strategic partners. There are also the sales teams from IBM’s other divisions — the legions in hardware and the 150,000 consultants from IBM’s services group — whose products often come bundled with IBM middleware.
“I’ve never met a customer who wants to buy software,” he contends. “They want to deploy software, and they want to know who’s going to be there after they deploy it.” Still, he knows that his products’ complexity is a problem. The fastest-growing market for enterprise software is in small and midsize businesses. Few such customers need industrial-strength middleware. Fewer still can afford to hire a platoon of consultants to make it work.