back to article IBM slices heavy axe through staff in the US

IBM axed a wedge of workers today across the US as part of an "aggressive" shakeup of its business. Big Blue was due to lay off some staff at its Global Technology Services (GTS) wing in America back in January. That headcount chop was postponed, with the cuts being pushed back to this week and with more than GTS workers …

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  1. QuiteEvilGraham
    Flame

    Just so long as they don't fuck up z/Series, z/OS and DB2. IBM are just as bad a services company as anyone else. Peerless as a technology company though. It's getting damned hard to figure out what they are up to these days.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      I'm not sure they have figured it out themselves yet. Sure, lots of strategic this and strategic that in the press releases, but what is the strategy?

      "Where do you see yourself in five years, IBM?"

      1. GrumpyOF
        Happy

        Why doesn't Ginny Just Ask Watson for strategic advice?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Watson's advice..

          Ginny: What should I do Watson?

          Watson: The same thing I told you yesterday

          Ginny: I'm not leaving...

          Watson: :(

          Watson: Same time tomorrow?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IBM lost its way when it caved in to Microsoft and canned OS/2. It has been floundering about trying to work out where it should go since then.

      Just hope there are some very very large organisations using z/OS and DB2 or that will be gone as easily.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, the mainframe was and is to this day, IBM's best product.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        "the mainframe was and is to this day, IBM's best product."

        No, that would be the automatic sequence calculator

        http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/science/assets_c/2011/06/automatic-sequence-calculator-ibm-thumb-615x569-54311.jpg

        Not sure if the sailor was standard equipment, tho...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You wot mate?

      "IBM is aggressively transforming its business to lead in a new era of ...cloud computing,"

      but then: "Jobs are being shed at IBM's Cloud Managed Services...."

      We need better cloud -> Lets fire all our cloud people...

      1. aazmi615@gmail.com

        Re: You wot mate?

        You don't actually think that IBM managed services is really a cloud offering, do you?

        1. NoneSuch
          Big Brother

          Re: You wot mate?

          The "Cloud" portion of their services is the NSA datacenter in Utah.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You wot mate?

        It is difficult to find anything in IBM which is not rebranded as cloud... SVC is cloud.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You wot mate?

        Jup. That has pretty much been the strategy, fire the people who actually understand the technical side of Things.

        Also much easier as a Manager with a non technical education, to bully a 22 year old 'Young professional' with a bachelor in business administration who's main skills are excell on user level, and being active on social media.

        // Jesper

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      H-1b scum alert

      Easy to figure them out - they are an H-1B employer. They are filled with incompetent but cheap IT staff. Simple as that.

  2. John 104

    Effing H1B

    Nothing against foreign talent, but when talented people are axed and visa holders get to keep their jobs, only for less pay, I get really pissy. Just wish there was something that could be done about it. However, the laws are made by elected officials. Officials are elected by way of back room pay offs by the companies who hire the H1B folks in the first place. So not much hope.

    1. KeithR

      Re: Effing H1B

      "Nothing against foreign talent, but when talented people are axed and visa holders get to keep their jobs, only for less pay, I get really pissy"

      Welcome to capitalism.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Effing H1B

        "I get really pissy" "Welcome to capitalism."

        The origin of the term 'trickle down economics'....

        Mine's the one that's soaked in (hopefully) my own urine.

        1. s5PGmU
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Effing H1B

          That made me laugh. Have an upvote!

    2. naive

      Re: Effing H1B

      Wishing the IBM employees who lost their jobs, the best in finding new employment.

      Good thing is they now have the opportunity to stop this corporate outsourcing greed destroying American jobs, by voting for the right candidate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Effing H1B

        As someone who has been both an IBMer and a customer, the problem for IBM is that many of their solutions are VERY expensive. Some of the IBM solutions are VERY good, but not all of them.

        This has enabled other IT service companies to provide expensive solutions to customers in competition to IBM.

        Unfortunately, IBM management think the solution is to stop developing VERY good solutions and instead just driving down the costs of their existing solutions in the hope that they will become more competitive. It has sort of worked (see financial results) but the short term gains are at the expense of the long term future of the business. In the meantime, their competitors continue to develop better products...

        i.e. for cloud (IBM's next big thing...), what does IBM offer to distinguish them from AWS/Azure/a big hosting provider like Rackspace or Sungard? OK, what does IBM offer other than a significantly more expensive solution AND immaturity in the cloud space...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Effing H1B

          what does IBM offer to distinguish them from AWS/Azure/a big hosting provider like Rackspace or Sungard?

          Nothing. But Gini will be getting a big bonus (c$13.3m of options for 2015) on the back of all the sackings, and because those are locked in for a few years, she has to keep the company in business and solvent to reap her rewards - but longer term growth beyond her options vesting date doesn't matter. Cue sackings, high prices, and reduced investment in long term growth products.

          Regarding people like Rackspace, they've got a mere $3bn market cap. All Gini and her overpaid greedster C-suite colleagues need to do is tweak the IBM dividend down a bit, or up the IBM debt mountain (net debt around $46bn) and they can buy them without a thought. Then its a case of cut staff, cut development, increase prices, and report the results as "growth". When they've hollowed out whoever they acquire, it is a case of rinse and repeat. Wall Street don't care, they take a cut each time an acquisition goes through, and so long as the Federal Reserve keep printing money, the share price might keep going up as part of the state+corporate Ponzi that passes for wealth creation these days.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Effing H1B

            Exactly. He was mixing some categories... AWS/Azure are similar... Rackspace partners with the cloud providers (hyperscale, like AWS/Azure) and provides managed services.... I'm sure Sungard has a service, but really on the cloud radar.... IBM is trying to compete with the hyperscalers, but it is unlikely to work. They should probably take the Rackspace route.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Effing H1B

            A little late responding, but regarding the hosting/cloud categories:

            - AWS is largely new solutions/develop from scratch to give you availability, but is the clear leader for cloud hosting in terms of a mature, rich feature set.

            - Azure is the MS friendly cloud option. Not as mature or feature rich as AWS, but continuing to deploy

            - Rackspace/Sungard give mature, scalable hosting packages that are likely to compete in the Enterprise space that IBM is targeting. Sure IBM could buy them, but they have already brought Softlayer and buying another hosting company to provide data centres (IBM might already have a few...) or staff to layoff (cynical but true...) may give your share options a few more years to mature, but little else.

        2. Valiant

          Re: Effing H1B

          >> ? OK, what does IBM offer other than a significantly more expensive solution AND immaturity in the cloud space...

          Mandatory billing in US dollars only!

      2. GeorgeHilman

        Re: Effing H1B

        I have been around for enough decades to know better than to place much hope on anyone who might run for office, such as Mr. Trump, who met with the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, last August. Are these two "old friends" or now new friends?

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Effing H1B

      There's also the bit about "long-term employees" getting the axe. A lot of companies dump employees beyond a certain number of years because the pay and benefits cost the company profit. In the very short term it works. The loss of experienced people who know the systems, etc. will always come back to bite the company later.

      And yeah.. the H1B is just a means of boosting short term profits. No loyalty, no reason to go the extra mile for the company. A pox on this.

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: Effing H1B

        @Mark 85 - I am one of the more junior programmers in my group with my current employer. With any large code base and system there are plenty of moving parts that take a long time to fully learn. The long-termers are invaluable as they know how the moving parts interrelate and often why is done that way in the dark ages.

  3. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    Just a footnote about H-1B workers: it may be that a reason that contributes to why an individual with an H-1B doesn't get the chop is that, by definition, they have a limited shelf life: when the visa expires, they're gone. So bean counters may have included H-1B workers in the calculations, but left them off the mass firing because they'll be gone in a few anyway, and doing it this way avoids paying severance / having them on staff for 90 days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure your right and this is what happens in an environment where no citizens job is safe. America has made it far to easy to get rid of staff, so the cuts hit there hardest. All non-local staff should have to go first.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        yes but

        Its a double edge sword though. When its tough to get rid of bad employees you tend to see higher unemployment rates as employers become gun shy about hiring and employers do things like requiring detailed transcripts of high school grades for an employee with two decades of work experience. Compare some of the unemployment rates in continental Europe with the US. You may have less job security for any one particular job but its often far easier to get another job.

      2. joeldillon

        You're assuming employees are fungible. If an H1B guy is genuinely being employed because there's no-one local available who can do the specific job he's doing then he probably shouldn't be getting canned.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          because there's no-one local available who can do the specific job

          The US has in round numbers 8m unemployed, 6m involuntarily part time workers, 3m discouraged or marginally attached workers, and in total 94m adults not in the labour force.

          I'd suggest that if there's no locals to do the job, its either because the employer either isn't trying very hard, or because they are knowingly failing to pay a credible salary, or not offering training to do the job.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just a footnote about H-1B workers: it may be that a reason that contributes to why an individual with an H-1B doesn't get the chop is that, by definition, they have a limited shelf life: when the visa expires, they're gone

      Yes, then they hire a new crop of temporary workers who've already been trained in newer technologies and save money by starting them out at lowest wage.

      In the olden days, companies would have seen the value of retraining long-term employees to use the new technologies, but those days have long gone.

  4. cjcox

    IBM is just being IBM, no surprise

    IBM is *not* the company most people think it is. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite of their propaganda. Very sad.

    With that said, they patent everything (including junk). They are well armed for a patent Wold War... and the patents give them the ability to acquire pretty much anyone they want for whatever price they want. And while there have been glimmers of hope with many junk patents getting thrown out as they are used by smaller companies, one has to wonder if big blue's pockets are deep enough to silence the parties that would dare take a close look at their patents even if under dispute.

    Anyone I know that was "good" has long left IBM and I can honestly say, IBM doesn't care at all.

    So.. in a way I guess I'm saying "Who cares?" Let IBM continue to be IBM... seems to be working really well for them. :)

    ... building a smarter planet through attrition...

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: IBM is just being IBM, no surprise

      The only difference is the stock buy back target is no longer explicit.

    2. Mpeler
      Mushroom

      Re: IBM is just being IBM, no surprise

      Anyone remember the "good" old days when IBM meant "I've Been Moved"?

      I had a former colleague who was on the fast-track at IBM, whose manager came to him on a Friday and asked if he'd be able to move to another place (state) as part of a promotion.

      He replied that he'd like to talk it over with his wife (sounds reasonable to me.....).

      The manager then said he could pack his desk, as opposed to packing his bags.

      This was about 45-50 years ago, so some things haven't changed. Sometimes I think "The HP Way" was more marketing than reality, although it was MUCH better when Bill and Dave were around.

      Too bad no-one cares about "corporate knowledge" anymore. Could be why most corporations are tanking. Seems we "wrinklies" do have skills and knowledge worth keeping.

      And the highly-paid "management consultants" out of Dolittle & co. fresh out of school have a bit to learn. Who knew?

      In any case, all the best to those who have been cast aside and adrift, and to those left behind who will have to divvy up the extra work, whilst waiting for the next round.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arseholes

    Outsourcing jobs to the lowest paid talentless fuckwit.

    Their cloud is shit.

    Their servers are shit.

    Maybe the management should be first to go.

  6. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Move along

    IBM is just another dinosaur lumbering towards death. The announcement is just weasel words from the management weasels.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK employees should do a web search for "redundancy pay precedent" to see if they can get a better payoff than that on offer.

    1. Secondrule

      Re: redundancy in the UK

      We can & we do. By law.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is sad, but IBM does this every year around this time. Like clockwork. It is just part of the strategy.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      A Clockwork Orange?

      1. Eltonga
        Coat

        A Clockwork Orange?

        A Clockwork lemon in this case.

      2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Re: "A Clockwork Orange?"

        Yep. A "bit o' the old in-out" to long-term employees...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the only end of IBM I see is the AIX and Power servers. From what I can see, these are being neglected, the quality of support these past few years is awful, and that includes field service who can't fix stuff after repeated visits per numerous anecdotes from folks I know.

    a/c because, well, just because.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, sadly IBM just considers systems the past.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, POWER does still kick butt, and much of the good local support people are still here (We still throw a party for the gang here once a year). But the business model for POWER is changing.

      And as an IBM customer, I agree that support is a shadow of what it once were. We are throwing out IBM products, not cause the product isn't great.. but cause the support sucks. We had a WW IBM VP here as a part of his tour of europe. Our story to him was.. we are dropping this storage product.. why.. the support isn't good enough.. it sucks.. you moved it to OUTSOURCING COUNTRY X.. and now the support sucks. Sorry, and no we won't be buying the new product Y, cause we don't trust your support anymore.

      AC... cause I used to Work there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, I used to work in IBM systems. Your complaint came up time after time. The customers were all essentially saying the same thing, we like the products and your support is awful. These are the root problems:

        1) People think when they are speaking with an IBM VP that they are speaking with someone in charge of something. Usually that is not the case. IBM has an army of VPs and all of them are, at best, sitting around a table of 20 people when things are decided. They may not be in the loop at all.

        2) Systems group doesn't own their own support. They are Global Services' internally customer. Global Services is... well, you know. When Systems group gets this bevy of complaints about support, they take them to the VP in charge of services and no action seems to take place.

        3) Outsourcing/Offshoring. That has undoubtedly caused a lot of the support issues for the reasons offshoring outsourcing doesn't work in general (skill gaps, bureaucracy run amok, language barriers, just the inherent difficulty of passing a complex problem from one person to the next). You cannot even say that this offshoring thing isn't working well at IBM though.

        4) Just general attrition and people caring less. A lot of the talent has left, one way or another, and the morale is pretty low. If someone thinks IBM is the greatest company in the world they are going to do a much better job than if they think they are getting hosed by IBM. In aggregate, morale makes a huge difference. The military understands the role morale plays and they can shoot people who try to leave... why IBM doesn't get it is beyond me. There is just a focus on financials at IBM and not the same focus on delighting the customer.

        A lot of these issues are the same at any big company, not really specific to IBM. The major difference is morale. You need employees who are motivated enough to work around things, simplify things, push stuff through the operational nonsense to get it done. It would be nice if companies wouldn't set up the operational nonsense in the first place but it is never going to happen because some operational VP sees risk everywhere which needs to be documented and handled. No one ever considers the risk of not getting anything done or getting it done so slowly that you lose in the market.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I really enjoyed working at IBM. I'm not just complaining for the sake of complaining. I hope IBM is able to turn itself around and become the company it once was again... but the first step is to accurately diagnose the problem and I don't think that has been done.

  10. niksgarage

    So sad

    I started work at IBM when they were nearly ten times bigger than their nearest rivals, who were DEC. I left them more than ten years ago, and even at that time, I had dodged the axe a few times to last that long. I have been happier, have been better paid since and I have found the freedom to focus on what I am interested in. Please can those people who are fearful of their jobs going have the confidence to take the money and run, go work for somewhere else where your skills and experience will put you in good stead. IBM is a great place to be from.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So sad

      Haha, "IBM is a great place to have worked" is what someone told me when I originally was hired by IBM (implication being that it is not a great place to work).

      There are definitely some downsides about IBM, constant layoffs, low salaries, idiots become managers (IBM), constant reshuffling of the deck.... I will say that I like and miss how process driven IBM is... people might complain about that, but I miss the organization.

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