Channel programs News

The 10 Biggest News Stories Of 2021

Rick Whiting

This year’s list of the 10 biggest news stories is topped by major cybersecurity and ransomware attacks, accelerating industry trends such as as-a-service and cloud marketplaces, and new leadership pursuing new strategies at some of the IT industry’s biggest companies.

7. IBM Spins Off Kyndryl As CEO Krishna Accelerates Big Blue’s Transformation

On Nov. 4, after months of planning and preparation, IBM spun off its Global Technology Services business unit as Kyndryl, a managed infrastructure services company with more than $18 billion in annual revenue and what the company sees as a $510 billion addressable market.

Kyndryl faces the challenge of turning around the company’s fortunes: In September the soon-to-be independent Kyndryl disclosed that it recorded three consecutive years of declining revenue and a $2.01 billion loss in 2020. But executives have emphasized Kyndryl’s opportunities as a separate company and by year’s end Kyndryl had established alliances with Google Cloud and Microsoft and expanded a partnership with VMware.

The GTS spinoff is the most visible move by Arvind Krishna who took over as IBM CEO in April 2020 and outlined his vision for transforming the company into a leading provider of hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence technologies and services.

In 2021 the plans to make that vision a reality have continued to take shape and even accelerated. Most notable have been some of the biggest changes in IBM’s go-to-market model in three decades including the launch of a new, simplified sales structure with a renewed emphasis on partners. That includes investing $1 billion to rapidly expand IBM’s cloud partner ecosystem.

Krishna also engineered a series of acquisitions in late 2020 and this year to speed IBM’s transformation including buying AIOps vendor Turbonomic, DevOps consultant BoxBoat Technologies, hybrid cloud consultants Taos, Bluetab Solutions Group and SXiQ.

The transformation hasn’t always been smooth for IBM this year. July saw the unexpected departure of IBM President Jim Whitehurst, widely seen as key to integrating Red Hat with the rest of IBM. And in October Krishna said the pending Kyndryl spinoff caused some customers to “pause” spending with IBM, contributing to third-quarter results that missed expectations.

But Krishna is staying the course. In October, speaking at The Channel Company’s Best of Breed Conference, the CEO doubled down on IBM’s ambitious growth plans in such areas as security and hybrid cloud and emphasized the importance of the channel in meeting those goals.

Rick Whiting

Rick Whiting has been with CRN since 2006 and is currently a feature/special projects editor. Whiting manages a number of CRN’s signature annual editorial projects including Channel Chiefs, Partner Program Guide, Big Data 100, Emerging Vendors, Tech Innovators and Products of the Year. He also covers the Big Data beat for CRN. He can be reached at

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