Glenn Wightwick is an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Director of the IBM Australia Development Laboratory and IBM Australia Chief Technologist.
He spoke with iTWire on a wide range of software and hardware technology issues, how IBM is addressing them across the globe, as well as the nature and scope of research and development work being carried out by the IBM Australia Lab.
Did you know that IBM Australia now has some 15,000 employees (it was less than 5,000 when I retired in the 1990s).
The IBM Australia Development Lab has locations spread right across Australia, with some 600 staff, which makes it one of the largest R&D organizations in the country. To put that into perspective, and picking just one other US-headed IT corporation with a notable presence here Down Under, I've been told that Microsoft Australia has something like 700 employees altogether.
I've often pondered IT multinationals and how they contribute to a particular nation, this being a topic for another blockbuster debate in its own right. Regarding the two corporations already mentioned, I've previously written a little on the matter, see: Which one is "bigger" -- Microsoft or IBM?
While it's certainly true that Microsoft currently has a lot of mind share, that's usually restricted to what I'd term "lighter" aspects of IT (such as desktop operating systems and office suites). They don't have the vast range of hardware, software, services and worldwide R&D of Big Blue.
Getting back to the IBM Australia Development Lab interview, we find that the Lab works directly with its clients on diverse software and hardware projects, such as security products in the IBM Tivoli area, web content management, Linux kernel work for the IBM Power microprocessor.
The Australian Lab — one of about 75 IBM labs across the globe — has locations right around the country, generally not working on products exclusively but as part of this global network. Projects are allocated based on skills and capabilities of the different teams.
For example, one of he the IBM web content management products is developed in Sydney, in close cooperation with the IBM labs in Beijing, Boeblingen (in Germany) and Raleigh (in North Carolina). And in Perth, there's a team of about 150 engineers working on mainframe software.
In Canberra, a team of about 25 engineers that all have deep expertise in the Linux kernel is working on microprocessors, including the Cell microprocessor (which can be found in the PlayStation 3 gaming console).
PLEASE READ ON...