Promotions for architects of IBM’s $34bn Red Hat deal

Former CEO of Red Hat and IBM’s cloud chief are now heading up Big Blue as it moves forward to a multicloud, hybrid computing future

Arvind Krishna, who heads up IBM’s cloud business, has been named as successor to Ginni Rometty as the company’s chief executive officer.

Krishna, currently senior vice-president for IBM’s cloud and cognitive software business, architected the company’s acquisition of Red Hat in July 2019.

“Arvind is the right CEO for the next era at IBM,” said Rometty. “He is a brilliant technologist who has played a significant role in developing our key technologies, such as artificial intelligence, cloud, quantum computing and blockchain. He is also a superb operational leader, able to win today while building the business of tomorrow.

“Arvind has grown IBM’s cloud and cognitive software business and led the largest acquisition in the company’s history. Through his multiple experiences running businesses in IBM, Arvind has built an outstanding track record of bold transformations and proven business results, and is an authentic, values-driven leader. He is well positioned to lead IBM and its clients into the cloud and cognitive era.”

Along with Krishna’s promotion, James Whitehurst, former CEO of Red Hat, has been elected president of IBM.

Rometty added: “Jim is also a seasoned leader who has positioned Red Hat as the world’s leading provider of open source enterprise IT software solutions and services, and has been quickly expanding the reach and benefit of that technology to an even wider audience as part of IBM.  In Arvind and Jim, the board has elected a proven technical and business-savvy leadership team.”

Krishna said: “IBM has such talented people and technology that we can bring together to help our clients solve their toughest problems. I am looking forward to working with IBMers, Red Hatters and clients around the world at this unique time of fast-paced change in the IT industry. We have great opportunities ahead to help our clients advance the transformation of their business while also remaining the global leader in the trusted stewardship of technology. Jim will be a great partner in the next step of this journey.”

Whitehurst added: “I look forward to working with Arvind, and with IBMers and Red Hatters alike, to continue to bring together the best of our companies and cultures.  I’ve had the opportunity to interact with IBMers across the company over the past few months, and I have been so impressed with the talented and dedicated team we have. When I first joined, I said I believe we have the opportunity to be the defining technology company of the 21st century. After working with our clients, IBMers and Red Hatters over the past months, I am even more convinced of that opportunity today.”

In its results for the fourth quarter of 2019, IBM said the integration of Red Hat was critical to the company’s next evolution of cloud computing, which is very much focused on hybrid clouds. Red Hat delivered $1bn in revenue for IBM during Q4 2019.

In a transcript of the earnings call posted on the Seeking Alpha financial blogging site, CFO Jim Kavanaugh, senior vice-president and chief financial officer of IBM, said: “The next chapter of cloud will be driven by mission-critical workloads managed in a hybrid, multicloud environment. This will be based on a foundation of Linux, with containers and Kubernetes.”

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