After IBM closed the $2.1 billion dollar sale of its x86 server division to Lenovo late last year — a deal that included some lines of network hardware — it was unclear how seriously it would continue to support the remaining software side of its networking business. But IBM now has roughly 160 developers working on its networking services, with a large number devoted to software-defined networking (SDN), SDxCentral has learned.
IBM had reportedly considered selling off its SDN unit in early 2014, as the Lenovo deal was being finalized. Instead, the roughly 135 developers then working on SDN split off from the outgoing x86 division and were integrated into IBM’s cloud services unit, IBM CTO of Cloud Services Mac Devine revealed in an interview earlier this week.
The shuffle — which included a move to shift IBM’s software networking products to an OpenDaylight platform — coincided with the departure of several high-ranking engineers from IBM’s SDN team. Gone were IBM’s CTO of network operating systems Vijoy Pandey and chief SDN architect Anees Shaikh, who both left for Google.
Devine, who spearheaded IBM’s $2 billion acquisition of dedicated server and cloud provider SoftLayer in 2013, scooped up IBM’s remaining SDN talent late last year. It was shortly after that move that IBM VP of Networking Development Inder Gopal, who had come under cloud services, departed for Ericsson.
As the dust settles, Devine has staffed up the networking services team to roughly 160, adding engineers from cloud services’ innovation team. The largest team in that group is devoted to pure SDN, says Devine, who now also holds the title vice president of SDN.
As IBM expanded SoftLayer’s cloud services client base to more than 32,000, says Devine, “the networking got in the way a lot.” Devine believes software-defined network solutions will help expand IBM’s cloud services client base even further.
“Compute, storage, network,” he adds. “The network is the last of the three that hasn’t matured in terms of agility.”