IBM taps new leaders for hybrid-cloud battles ahead

IBM installs Arvind Krishna as CEO, and appoints Red Hat execs to round out new cloud-oriented team

IBM logo sign
Stephen Lawson/IDG

Amid the business chaos COVID-19 is causing, IBM has set its course by installing Arvind Krishna as CEO and Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst as IBM president.  The company also named Red Hat veteran Paul Cormier as CEO of Red Hat.

Krishna replaces long-time CEO Virginia Rometty, who will  retire at the end of the year, and the package of executive moves solidifies the team that will lead Big Blue into to hybrid-cloud world where it will battle Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Right now, though, that team must also compete in the face the COVID-19 pandemic, an issue Krishna mentioned in a letter he posted on LinkedIn on his first day on the job, April 6.

“During this challenging time, we all need to have empathy, solidarity, and understanding for each other…If there’s one thing that this public health crisis has brought to light it is the ever essential role of IBM in the world. We are the backbone of some of the most critical systems of the world. Our technologies and services help banks run credit-card transactions, businesses run supply chains, telcos connect customers, healthcare providers improve patient care, and companies and cities tackle cyberthreats,” Krishna wrote.

IBM has been part of the technology community that is helping address COVID-19.  For example, IBM Research has been developing cloud and AI-powered technologies that can help researchers battle against coronavirus, in part by accelerating COVID-19 drug discovery. 

IBM is also leading the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium with AWS, Google, HPE, and Microsoft as well as US National Labs, NASA, and others to bring high-performance computing systems together to help researchers run massive modeling calculations.

While COVID-19 is a focus for now, the long term-goal is developing cloud technologies.

“I believe we can make IBM the most trusted technology partner of the 21st century. For this to happen, we have to ensure that IBM continues to innovate and lead in the transformational journeys our clients are on. Hybrid cloud and AI are two dominant forces driving change for our clients and must have the maniacal focus of the entire company,” he stated.

Linux, Kubernetes and containers

Krishna also wrote about IBM’s strategic cloud directions going forward. “First, we have to deepen our understanding of IBM’s two strategic battles: the journey to hybrid cloud and AI. We all need to understand and leverage IBM’s so

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