IBM Global Services: Tangled Up in Big Blue

It’s not as if IBM Global Services (IGS) is the underdog in the Linux market. Even though it wasn’t the first one out there, once the parent company made Linux a priority, IGS has been tailoring many of its offerings for the penguin set—while taking great pains not to step on any open-source toes with its oversized feet.

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One IGS strength is the goodwill many of its clients have toward IBM itself. The PGA Tour has worked with Big Blue for more than a decade, says Vice President for Information Systems Steve Evans. “They understand our business and our applications,” Evans says, which makes consulting contracts an easy decision.

Other customers focus mainly on the savings IGS can provide. Mobil Travel Guide Chief Information Officer Paul Mercurio was immediately taken by IGS’s proposal that Mobil opt for IBM’s Linux Virtual Services (LVS), which, he says, provides “substantial economic and operational benefits that … no other entity offers.” IGS’s plan also allowed Mobil to focus on core activities rather than network operations.

And though IGS does offer a clear line of sight to the mother ship’s Linux hardware—many IGS clients end up using the zSeries server platform and several have signed on with LVS—the division wears as a badge of honor its willingness to play the open source game, working within any Linux hardware and software configuration.

Mercury Insurance Group’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Greg Schueman says IGS provided what he calls “a full surround” to his firm’s Red Hat Linux deployment. IGS helped with a new clustering environment, and built custom kernels where necessary. Schueman says Mercury “looked at Red Hat consulting,” but eventually decided that “IBM could get things done very quickly.”

Unlike hardware and software, consulting’s benefits are found in the individuals involved. Evans notes IGS’s knack for “recruiting and developing people with good technological skill sets and good project-management methodology. They’ve been good at understanding my needs.” Similarly, HON Industries Chief Information Officer Malcolm Fields places a great deal of emphasis on the breadth of IGS’s human assets. “You really need quite a network to cover everything and not have a 6-hour drive—you need to have people where our factory is.” IGS does.