back to article IBM cuts deep into workforce – even its Watson and AI teams – as it 'pivots' to cloud

IBM is swinging the axe on its staff, with significant numbers of employees not attached to the cloud being told their time at Big Blue is up. In response to questions from The Register about the extent of and nature of the cuts, the IT grandee did not deny jobs will be lost and declined to offer specific numbers "for …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    add high-value skills to our workforce

    HR executives in charge of redundancies ?

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: add high-value skills to our workforce

      Well, when you are performing the way IBM has over the last several years, knowing how to give workers the chop is maybe the highest-value skill in the company!

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: add high-value skills to our workforce

        they should be moving people around within the company, just sayin'. Probably are, when possible, but I don't know since I don't work for IBM. A friend of mine did, for a while. They have their fingers in a LOT of pies.

  2. James Anderson Silver badge

    The one thing they are really good at.

    Not P45s (Pink Slips) which has certainly become a core skill, but hardware.

    Which has been abandoned by management in spite of the fact that the niche zSeries mainframe line is the only real money maker the company has left.

    While power series may be overpriced it is superb kit.

    Ditching the laptop and PC market may have pleased the Wall Street analysts but it pleased Lenovo even more as they acquired a very profitable line in [prestige laptops. (Thinkpads just get better!).

    1. Trollslayer Silver badge

      Re: The one thing they are really good at.

      One of the big contract electronics manufacturer (Celestica) got started when IBM built the world most automated laptop manufacturing plant and lost money on the laptops because there were so many managers involved.

      They sold it to a group of managers who set up Celestica and sold the laptops at a good price then began to expand.

      I worked for Celestica starting in '99 on production test for an IBM product.

  3. LucreLout Silver badge

    Best of luck

    Good luck to all the soon to be ex IBM staff. It's not a great environment out there just now, but this will pass and things will get better. Higher quality employers will find a need for you shortly. In the mean time, at least its summer(ish) so outdoors will be a bit more pleasant.

    Beer, because everything is better with beer. Except driving.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Best of luck

      I am told by some that even driving is better after drinking

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Best of luck

        We have drunk driving laws in the US but I refuse to comply with them, it's just too risky to drink enough to legally drive here.

    2. onemark03

      Everything better with beer? Except driving.

      And bonking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Everything better with beer? Except driving.

        Nah, tried it sober once - it's horrid.

  4. Bob Vistakin

    IBM has a cloud offering?

    You learn something every day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IBM has a cloud offering?

      Still not RA'ed yet ... so keeping head down!

      IBM's "Cloud" is pretty much unknown/irrelevant outside of IBM.

      About time we stopped trying to play catchup with the hip/trendy internet stuff-on-demand or stuff-as-a-service and stuck to making world class hardware that other companies will then need to do their stuff.

      If I can see it, why the hell can't our management? Unless its because from their unique viewpoint, all it looks like is sweaty and brown.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: IBM has a cloud offering?

        Red Hat's influence should help. I suspect RH has more influence on IBM than IBM does on RH.

        Maybe that's why they're moving away from Watson... ?

  5. vtcodger Silver badge

    IBM assets

    AFAICS, long term IBM has only two real corporate assets -- its staff and its patent portfolio. It's dumping the first, and the second is perishable. The phrase "burning the furniture to warm the house" comes to mind.

    1. Trollslayer Silver badge

      Re: IBM assets

      That has been going on for decades, to varying degrees.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cut loose, foot loose

    > The whisperer added IBM even looked at cutting its storage and POWER systems businesses loose

    It's a shame POWER systems weren't cut loose years ago. Hopefully the market is not so grim they don't have a chance because it's a great product hampered by having to align with the rest of IBM. Perhaps one of the big cloud people will buy them and offer POWER as a service? And the very fine grained slices of processor time the architecture offers would be ideal as a host for serverless.

    1. James Anderson Silver badge

      Re: Cut loose, foot loose

      It was a great pity when they failed to step up to the mark when Motorola bottled out of the PowerPC market. IBM had all the expertise to produce a viable chip somewhere between the low power Xbox games console chips and the mega Power server chips.

      1. spold Silver badge

        Re: Cut loose, foot loose

        Funny you should say that. The Risc System/6000 (RS/6000)s were the first systems to use IBM's Power/PowerPC processors. I was product manager for the IBM venture into immersive virtual reality systems in 1995 (yes what is old is new again) using some technology from a company called Virtuality PLC. The IBM graphics bit consisted of a PC card stuffed with 4 of these processors that crunched all the graphics processing on the fly.... Some of the appications were semi-serious business apps/ virtual world demos... some were actually games!

    2. whitepines Silver badge

      Re: Cut loose, foot loose

      You can get commercial time on a Power cloud over at Integricloud, and I think non-commercial time at a university in Brazil (?), but if you're looking for AWS style stuff you're out of luck at the moment. IBM saying it looked at cutting Power loose entirely won't help adoption there either, in my opinion.

      It's a real shame, I love my OpenPower desktop, but it may end up being my last secure machine. Orwell always seems to win in the end, somehow...

    3. MikeLivingstone

      Re: Cut loose, foot loose

      Agree, there is value in Power.

      But IBM's Storage business is dead and I am 80% certain it will be shutdown.

    4. Anonymous Crowbar

      Re: Duff batch spotted

      When i was last working on power about 5 years ago i set up PowerVM with a number of Power795s, FlashSystem9000s and Storwisev7000s.

      It was basically OpenStack on Power connecting directly to the SANs and the HMCs/LPARs and it was fantastic for our environment being able to spin new dev envs in extremely short times as opposed to the normal nonsense. Never got to try to do production loads with it, as i left the company due to manglement being a bunch of jackasses, but it was a valid in-house platform for us anyway.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Wow, that's cold

    "some posts were made by staff who recently completed certifications on major cloud platforms but were still let go"

    So, you go through the effort of improving your skills on your own time, likely paying for the privilege, and you still not only get no recognition for it, but get the chop.

    That is one massive fuck you right there.

    Never trust a conglomerate. You're nothing but a number there.

    1. nxnwest

      Re: Wow, that's cold

      Apparently Number 2. (Maybe Number 6).

    2. sjb2016reg

      Re: Wow, that's cold

      "Never trust a conglomerate. You're nothing but a number there."

      I worked at IBM for about 2 years. It would have been both an honour and a privilege to have been treated as a number. Sadly, most didn't even get that.

  8. ST Silver badge

    other than laying off people

    and being an irrelevant accounting firm in charge of managing its stock price, does IBM do anything else these days?

  9. a_yank_lurker Silver badge


    When I saw the manglement turn pivot my thoughts were I've Been Mangled is pivoting to irrelevancy and eventual liquidation. The death watch continues.

    1. whitepines Silver badge

      Re: Pivot

      If they finally do sell the rest of their hardware divisions, yes, Itsy Bitsy Morons would effectively be in an assisted care facility, waiting to shuffle off this mortal coil...

      1. MikeLivingstone

        Re: Pivot

        Storage will definitely go, Power will if they can find a buyer.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not surprised

    {insert rant} ... rearrange-the-deck-chairs-on-the-titanic .... {insert poorly remembered 3rd party personal anecdotes} ... distressed gorilla at the zoo eating its own vomit ...{continued ranting} ... {something about zombies} ... {conclusion that is really a segway into a vaguely related topic}.

    At least that's how I'd expect my post to go if I tried to make sense of IBM's continued existance.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: I'm not surprised

      "conclusion that is really a segue into a vaguely related topic"

      Fixed it for ya (but we all knew what you meant, yeah)

      or, was it REALLY just a joking reference to the 2 wheel electric scooter? in which case, I failed...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Journey to the cloud

    I guess it's true, their staff will probably end up working for a cloud vendor when they leave IBM so this is the most efficient journey to the cloud. It's certainly more fruitful than waiting for IBM to have a real cloud! Their consultants will be finishing the discovery phase any year now, ready for the start of design which will also take 20 years and billions of dollars.

    Ahhhh karma :)

  12. Grumpy O'Toole

    Saw the axe first-hand at Lloyds (LBG). Soon as LBG staff were 2p'd over to IBM, there was a mad scramble to get back on the good ship LBG. Them that didn't make it ended up having to go to India with the remit to teach people how to do their job. In 2 weeks. Morale must have been through the floor for permies. It wasn't much better for us contractors. I was given the chop by someone I'd never met over email. Nice touch.

    Shareholders really love this arrangement though.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Shareholders really love this...

      "Shareholders really love this arrangement though."

      Not so much. I sold mine several mass firings ago, when there was a brief upwards tick in the share price. Good move, as it turns out.

      Interesting, though, that Arvind is slashing the services arms that his two predecessors were so keen on. That does signal some sort of change. But "pivots to cloud"? Two buzzwords in one phrase, so I have no idea what it really means.

      1. Beavis-101

        Re: Shareholders really love this...

        Not Warren Buffett, he dumped all his IBM stock. He's normally right about companies.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. meetra

    Even Indian workers weren't spared the axe.

    That's funny. If the Indians don't survive these cuts... then IBM is in a real mess.

  15. fredesmite2

    India Business Machines

    All you need to know.

  16. fredesmite2

    India Business Machines

    India Business Machines uses VmWare for Watson HC

    Read this slowly.

    IBM ,owner of Red Hat , has migrated it's RH Openstack Watson Healthcare deployments to VMware platform at Softlayer due to reliability issues.

    I worked on Watson HC for a year .. It was horrible.

  17. Randall Shimizu

    Hopefully IBM cuts a lot of middle management. IBM has a lot of bureaucracy. I am surprised that IBM made cuts to their services division.

  18. Bill Riot

    Pivoting to cloud. It will be interesting (like a documentary on disasters is) to see this business that's constantly failing to stop the shrinkage of its profits even in its core competencies, try to take on 3 very profitable incumbents in the Cloud business.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardware no more

    I've heard the Storage business will almost certainly go, and that Power will be looking for a buyer.

  20. BillyHey

    Greener grass

    After surviving 10+ rounds of RA in my 7 years of IBM, I got TUPEd out to a much worse company in the form of Atos. But at least they were honest and told us before we even arrived we were out the door. I've since landed a job (one I actually enjoy) at a UK company that cares about its staff, and it made a refreshing change to attend a town hall meeting where 'meet our business objectives' and 'increase margins' - both IBM code for layoffs were nowhere to be heard. I would have done it sooner but I had TUPEd redundancy rights and a good enough length of service to not let either IBM or Atos off with it!

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