A Conversation with Doug Balog, General Manager for System z, IBM: Part 1

SHARE in San Francisco Journal:
A Conversation with Doug Balog, General Manager for System z, IBM Corporation: Part 1

Doug Balog, IBM’s General Manager for System z, attended SHARE in San Francisco, delivering a keynote address, participating in an executive panel and demonstrating his organization’s commitment to the mainframe community. Doug was gracious enough to sit down with me for several minutes during the conference. Here’s what we discussed…

Doug, I attended the System z Executive Panel, where you told the audience you would be leaving SHARE in San Francisco “pretty jazzed.” What have you seen or heard during the conference specifically that spiked that feeling for you?

What I found at SHARE is a positive and excited community around System z. I know from my discussions that [mainframers] at times feel they’re under attack from alternate technology choices. Who doesn’t these days? That’s just some healthy paranoia, I would add – but they felt they saw the market trends shifting back in their favor. Whether it be cloud, operational analytics or security, these are trends that resonated with them, that they saw in their own shops, whether they are a partner or a client. They saw that our organization is focusing on furthering the platform and were excited about it. As I walked around the SHARE Technology Exchange, there was such positive energy in terms of innovation and excitement, just a sense that this platform can grow.

The other part of my excitement was that I met a whole bunch of younger-generation System z folks here. This is not only an experienced crowd, but it’s becoming more and more a youthful crowd.

In the same Executive Panel, one of the audience members challenged you to raise IBM’s voice as an advocate for mainframe computing. In turn, you challenged the mainframe community to help you in this pursuit. What specific ways do you recommend they become more involved?

First, a community needs to stand together as a community. If we want the voice to be louder in the market, we need not only IBM but the members of SHARE to raise their voices as well. On the Executive Panel you saw a fairly broad array of IBM executives. We intentionally came to the conference because I don’t think the members of SHARE are reaching out to us enough. I travel the world. I talk with hundreds of clients each year, and it’s not uncommon during these visits to hear “The CEO of this other [competitive technology] company was just here yesterday meeting with [management].” I think the members of SHARE could be more active in pulling us in when they feel under attack. We’re a great tool. That’s why we’re here. We want them to call us.

Second, IBM has a corporate agenda under Ginni Rometty to be a leader in the marketplace on social, social business and social connections. I know SHARE does, too. How do we connect these efforts together to have a premier social presence? Both are doing it. But are we doing it effectively?

Third, around the three initiatives I laid out in my keynote – cloud, analytics, security – let’s make sure SHARE is aligning around those, too, setting the right tracks in place so that we’re working together to grow the whole ecosystem and platform around those spaces. If you’re all in the boat rowing in the same direction, it’s amazing how fast you can go.

In part 2 of this post, members of the SHARE community submit their questions for Doug Balog via social media. Stay tuned to hear his responses!

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