IBM VP: Our Search Technology Is Better Than Google's

IBM may be teaming up with Google on a joint initiative centered on highly scalable internet software application development, but IBM's top software sales executive says when all is said and done IBM has better technology, even search technology, than Google.

"Other than their search is something that is enviable, we have technology that we think is probably better but Google has just the dominant market share here," said Mike Borman, IBM vice president, worldwide sales for the IBM Software Group in a wide ranging 90 minute interview at the CMP XChange Conference in Miami, Fla. "But we want to use Google to the advantage that we can to sell our software to partner with us in certain areas that will advantage us in the marketplace."

Borman, who oversees worldwide software sales for IBM's $20 billion software business, said he even believes IBM has better search technology than Google. Some of the IBM search technology is not sold outright as a product "individually," he said but IBM has provided what he calls "some of our (search) algorythms from research" on a customer by customer basis integrated into world class solutions.

Borman made the comments the same day that the two technology powerhouses announced an initiative to improve what they called "computer science students' knowledge of highly parallel computing practices." It's all aimed at helping students and universities address "the emerging paradigm of large-scale distributed computing." The pact calls for the two companies to provide hardware, software and services to bolster university curricula. Colleges participating in a pilot effort include the University of Washington, Carnegie-Mellon University, MIT, Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Maryland.

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Borman said there will likely be more Google IBM collaboration. He noted that one of IBM's "coolest announcements" was a move to drive instant messenger collaboration on everything from IBM's own Lotus Sametime to Google Talk to AOL Instant Messenger. "I think you'll see more of us collaborating with Google in those ways," he said.

Borman said he is confident that the IBM software has the best technology - bar none - given the computer giant's enterprise legacy. "Rather than compare some of the desktop technology or cool stuff you have to realize that businesses run their business based on IBM software," said Borman. "These businesses need the IBM software to be scalable and reliable."

Borman pointed out that some of the software business technology breakthroughs IBM is making, such as putting a technology wrapper around CICS so it can work in SOA environments, often doesn't get the attention it deserves. "That's not a big (news) flash as you say in the newspaper (business)," he said. "But guess what: it was very successful for us and for customers. Customers loved it because now they can take all that legacy code and keep using it."

Among the most notable recent IBM software achievments, Borman said, are DB2 Version 9.0 with XML capabilities and faster performance. "We are 18 months ahead of where Oracle is," he boasted. "That was just tremendous technology the DB2 team came out." Borman also cited WebSphere Process Server, a key product to integrate applications; Tivoli Storage Manager, Notes 8.0 and Sametime 7.5. "We have great software," said Borman. "We have 3,000 products and it is tough to keep every single one of them on the front mind of business partners. What I've encouraged business partners to do is: focus."

NEXT: What Solution Providers Think

At least one IBM software partner, who did not want to be identified, agreed that Big Blue has better software technology than Google. One example of a relatively unknown hot technology product software solution providers are selling is IBM's OmniFind Enterprise Edition Search product. "Customers love OmniFind," the solution provider said. "A number of them are using it as a pre-built tool to search the web and their internal databases."

"IBM has a lot of great software technology and products," the IBM partner added. "Their portfolio is strong considering they have acquired so many companies over the last several years." One hurdle IBM has to overcome is that it sometimes takes the computer giant a long time to integrate hot new technology acquisitions into the broader lineup, he said. "It's a big machine," the solution provider said of IBM. "And I'd love to see more marketing of their great software products to both the end user and the channel. Anything that helps get more customers aware about IBM software acquisitions helps us."

Another IBM partner, who did not want to be identified, said that IBM may be winning the technology battle, but Google is winning the intellectual capital battle for tomorrow. "We are seeing more and more intellectual resources being attracted to Google instead of your traditional technology vendors of today," he said. "Ask IBM how many unsolicited resumes they get a month compared to Google."

"The applications being defined today are the result of intellectual capital over the past three years," he said. "The point is IBM is going to realize that they are three to five years behind in acquiring the intellectual capital to deliver tommorow's technology."

Andrew Sampson, the president of Sampson and Associates, an Atlanta Ga. Solution provider, said Google has "better technology because it has been exposed to the outside world and is being used."

"Google has more real world experience and acceptance," said Sampson, who has been in the technology sales trenches for 36 years. "IBM has always come across as a vendor targeted in and zeroed in on a very select elitist group."

Sampson said he used to be an IBM partner selling hardware in the 80s and early 90s, but dropped the company because he claims IBM approached his customers directly.

"IBM goes through a cycle every three to four years where they discover or decide they really need the channel," he said. "Then they let us go out there and act like point dogs or beagles and lead them to sales. Then they put us down so they can take it direct and do it themselves. It's not sour grapes. It's just an observation after dealing with them for all these years. I made a lot of money with IBM in the past. Now I don't do any IBM business."