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January 26, 2017

Another senior IBM exec departs as cloud & POWER hardware undergo restructuring

Robert LeBlanc to retire after 36 years at the company.

By James Nunns

IBM is facing a corporate restructuring of its cloud and POWER hardware units following the departure of Robert LeBlanc.

LeBlanc, who is the senior vice president of the IBM Cloud division and has spent 36 years at the company, started at the company in 1981 and will retire in June.

The planned departure and restructuring will see the vice president and director of IBM research Arvind Krishna appointed as senior vice president, Hybrid Cloud, Krishna will report to SVP, Cognitive Solutions and IBM Research John Kelly.

LeBlanc, who was named head of IBM’s cloud unit in January 2015, helped to oversee productive cloud growth for Big Blue. In the company’s Q4/ year-end earnings the cloud business revenue grew to $13.7bn, up 35% year-to-year, with cloud as-a-service run rate standing at $8.6bn, up 63% year-to-year.

The IBM Power Systems family.

The departure of LeBlanc comes after the exit of other long-serving IBM staff last year. Steve Mills, EVP software and systems retired after 43 years at the company, while CTO and GM of the cloud unit Danny Sabbah also left.

Further restructuring at the company will see Bob Picciano, SVP for IBM Analytics join IBM systems as SVP and will report to IBM Systems SVP Tom Rosamilia.

IBM’s new lines of business, Cloud and Cognitive solutions, have been the highlight of the company’s recent financial results, frequently being the large growth segments.

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The company’s efforts in the area have recently seen it merge Google’s artificial intelligence tools with its own cognitive computing technologies. The move is designed to allow deep-learning systems to more accurately do things like recognise images, voices, and find answers to complex questions.

The move will see Google’s open-source TensorFlow machine-learning tools integrated into IBM’s PowerAI, the toolkit that it offers for computer learning. The combination will then be applied to IBM’s Power Servers.

Although Watson is one of IBM’s leads in this area, and is already using both advanced software and hardware to complete the aforementioned tasks, the PowerAI solution offers more options for customisation.

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