back to article IBM insiders say CEO Arvind Krishna downplayed impact of email troubles, asked for a week to sort things out

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna on Wednesday addressed the company's ongoing email woes in his monthly video message to employees. Krishna, we're told, said the email disruption only lost the company one deal worth about $10,000 and he said the situation would be fully fixed in a week. The chief exec's comments appear to address The …

  1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    The possibility of brand damage, however, remains

    Scrapping at the bottom of the barrel -- I do not think it can get any worse than before the emails stopped turning up for work.

    But then again, this is IBM. And the possibilities are bottomless.

    1. Inspector71

      Is brand damage to IBM even possible anymore?

      1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Is brand damage to IBM even possible anymore?

        IBM: Challenge accepted!

      2. iron Silver badge

        When I tell my octagenarian father about it over the week end they will suffer brand damage so yes, it is still possible but you will need to find someone whose finger isn't on the pulse of the latest in the industry.

      3. Korev Silver badge

        > Is brand damage to IBM even possible anymore?

        The Ginis already out of the bottle

    2. Dabooka

      Brand damage remains?

      IBM: Hold my beer...

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge


      I Bought Monkeys

      1. TheManInSpain

        Re: Monkeys!

        I've Been Misled

        1. Anonymous South African Coward

          Re: Monkeys!

          Lovely. Got to start compiling all these in one location for our pleasure.

          IBM stands for....

  2. DS999 Silver badge

    A week long email disruption

    Only cost them one deal worth $10K? They must not have very many deals in the pipeline, I guess.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: A week long email disruption

      Makes you wonder if it's worth the costs of running an email system at all?

      If the cost is more than $520K it would presumably be cheaper to just turn it off and accept the $10k/week losses

    2. UdoGoetz

      Senior Truth

      From a certain level in the pyramid of power you are allowed to new levels of truthiness. Actually benign as compared to "WMD".

    3. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: A week long email disruption

      "If the figure Krishna cited is correct..."

      That's the biggest IF I can recall seeing for a long time.

  3. Secondrule

    Presumably the emails that are being sent to shareholders and clients, are to apologise for shoddy service, high costs and poor delivery, since 2012, after 24 consecutive quarters of revenue decline

    1. UdoGoetz

      Maybe they can all create a gmail account like:

      Google is the new IBM. They are actually able to run mainframe-class systems, because they employ plenty of old white greybeards.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        And, just like IBM was twenty years ago, they are ashamed of it.

  4. YetAnotherJoeBlow


    I would advise that potential scapegoat(s) start preserving evidence to safeguard their career.

    1. MrBanana

      Re: Seriously...

      Absolutely, they need to preserve all those email in their Inbox that show... oh wait.

      1. Julian 8 Silver badge

        Re: Seriously...

        If sensible, they would have had a local copy of their mail file (nsf) - I know I would

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I read instead that IBM employee are like kids making shoes for a living...

    .... which looking at the recent past looks a far more better metaphor... and would explain a lot....

    1. UdoGoetz

      Re: I read instead that IBM employee are like kids making shoes for a living...

      IBMers can no longer afford shoes ? Yeah, makes sense.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I read instead that IBM employee are like kids making shoes for a living...

      Actually its how a lot of the PHBs at the top view the people actually doing the work. Those that are left anyway.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: I read instead that IBM employee are like kids making shoes for a living...

        As excuses go it’s a load of cobblers.

  6. Martin-R

    4.2 billion emails a week?

    A rough calculation says that's about 1,600 emails per employee per day, or a bit over 3 per minute. Do they ever do any work?!

    1. Julian 8 Silver badge

      Re: 4.2 billion emails a week?

      When we were tuped so many mangement sent so many crap emails and blogs that I can see this number being there. Us plebs did no such thing - only our jobs and either left or got made redundant after the agreed period of time

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: 4.2 billion emails a week?

        Indeed, when I was blue I regularly got cascaded emails,through many layers of manager, usually saying something along the lines of someone I'd never met doing a job I didn't know existed has moved to a new role that sounds made up, and someone from a department that sounds utterly superfluous is now taking over. It really was moving the chairs around on the Titanic.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 4.2 billion emails a week?

      Maintaining your inbox is "work" for a lot of IBM staff. I was once contacted by a customer to report that my task manager had just opened then responded to an email she had sent him 3 months perviously. I requested help for him from his line manager who later told me he had had 70k unread emails in his in box. His was instructed to delete the oldest 60k of them and sort out the other 10k by the end of the week.

      1. DeepBlue2021

        Re: 4.2 billion emails a week?

        Sounds about right, I am sent 80 emails a day of which about 80% are utter drivel on some woke initiative or another and why I should care.At the moment the broken system has reduced these to 0 as I have received nothing for 3 weeks. Senior leaders not even acknowledging the issue its a joke, I have to update iphone mail to see if I can synch and get 6 emails a day, no idea if I have missed client emails bar calling them to ask if they have sent anything. Its a total joke.

    3. pwjone1

      Re: 4.2 billion emails a week?

      A lot of e-mails are related to automation and so are never technically read by humans unless something goes wrong or you are checking results. Granted, HR and the executives are rather bad about filling your inbox with drivel, but what company does not have that? [and don't tell me Google or Apple or Microsoft, as I know people at all three, so...]. The are efforts to convert the automation and so forth over to Slack and other methods (Dashboard type things), in effect modernizing some, these mail problems will probably be a "nudge", might be good in the long run.

    4. JoeCool Bronze badge

      Re: 4.2 billion emails a week?

      I think it's called a distribution list, or as it's known on the intenet: spam.

    5. Dabooka

      Re: 4.2 billion emails a week?

      Nah, multiple recipients, distribution lists, mail shots, even read receipts will be included.

      Still a lot mind

    6. whileI'mhere

      Re: 4.2 billion emails a week?

      Well most of them are people replying all to the company-wide email someone sent about the printer not working, telling everyone else not to reply all.

    7. James Anderson

      Re: 4.2 billion emails a week?

      On one project I was at. The Client blocked internet access to the IBMers on the project when he realised they were spending two or three hours a day on being IBMers. Answering stupid emails, filling in HR forms, doing pointless power point courses so they could be labelled “certified … “ etc. etc,

      The move did not end up increasing their productivity as they had to do all the crap at home and were knackered by the time they got to the office.

  7. Trixr

    I literally cannot believe that IBM was running off Notes on someone else's kit. It's bad enough they were using Notes (although understandable since it's their crappy product), but why on earth was it cloudified at all?

    1. tip pc Silver badge

      “ I literally cannot believe that IBM was running off Notes on someone else's kit. It's bad enough they were using Notes (although understandable since it's their crappy product), but why on earth was it cloudified at all?”

      Notes does much more than just email.

      It’s a bit like sales force. It’s a database that runs a load of business logic. Some of that logic happens to be an email client. Other bits of logic will be mundane things like registering for mandatory training, accessing the network with your MacBook, requesting access to another site, etc etc etc, almost endless possibilities.

      No one really works that way anymore but plenty of businesses still running notes hidden in their dc’s for some use case no one remembers what for.

      1. UdoGoetz


        They should simply nuke the notes stuff (which apparently never anywhere worked properly) and call in their redhat team to set up qmail.

        I bet email would then work perfectly.

        But I doubt there is any competent decisionmaker left at IBM to make this call.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Or

          Not so much a problem of finding a competent decision maker - its finding one who would be willing to put their job on the line for standing up to the C-Suite and suggesting it in the first place....

      2. nematoad

        Memories, and not good ones.


        Ah yes, I remember struggling with that pile of dog's droppings. It was as far as I was concerned jack of all trades and most definitely master of none. The email side of it was appalling and in comparison with Exchange was an absolute nightmare. The database side was so convoluted that I had to keep a crib sheet near me whenever I was forced to use the bloody thing.

        Luckily we only had to use it for those things that came from our employer who had contracted for the support of the call centre we were working at. The call centre's system was, thank God, based on Microsoft stuff and speaking as a committed Linux user I do not say that lightly.

        The migration might be a nasty, sticky business for IBM at the moment but providing that they don't just run Notes in-house they may well be grateful in time.

        1. UdoGoetz

          Re: Memories, and not good ones.

          I can second this description of Notes. A hairball of bad ergonomics, dysfunction and bugs. Saw this in two companies.

        2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Memories, and not good ones.

          I used Lotus Notes at a previous company.

          I remember disliking it...slow and complex compared to Unix mail...but the main thing I remember is that {filters rules scripts} whatever you call automated categorization of incoming messages, was very difficult to set up correctly, and I managed to configure mine badly enough that I got a call from the admin telling me to delete them, as I was impacting the mail server performance!

          Rules seem to be one thing that Microsoft got right in Outlook

          1. gryphon

            Re: Memories, and not good ones.

            A company I was at tuped a lot of back office staff over to one of the big banks which used Notes, we were an Exchange company. Funnily enough the office they were moving to was only just up the street.

            They all went over 1 day for some Notes email training before moving. They all came back shell-shocked at how bad it was in comparison.

            They’d all been asking “can it do this, can it do that” type questions and the answer was pretty much No in all cases.

        3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: Memories, and not good ones.

          Notes databases were hardly user friendly. Only IBM could develop a system where someone could send you a link to a database which wouldn't work unless you added a 'connection document' to tell Notes where to locate the database.

      3. J. Cook Silver badge

        So, kind of what Microsoft had originally intended Public Folders to be in Exchange pre-2000 days, with custom business automation sucked in from the Mail for workgroups product.

        Thankfully, my only experience with Notes was installing the client, for which I am gratefull.

        (Also thankfully, [RedactedCo] is only using public folders to hosts shared calendars, and even then we are pushing them to shared mailbox accounts for that functionality, even if it's more of an administrative headache, and once we get exchange connected for full hybrid in the next year or so, that will probably migrate to teams or something.)

      4. Anonymous South African Coward

        Bloated Goats says it best.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "due to a lack of resources"

    Oh, you mean all those competent 40+ people that you laid off ?

    In other words, it's the CEO's fault ?

    1. UdoGoetz

      Re: "due to a lack of resources"

      That is totally never and fully impossible. Problems are always blamed on a wageslave these days. I guess the senior wageslave in charge of the notes cluster contracted COVID19 from his dog in homeoffice. That must be it.

    2. DeepBlue2021

      Re: "due to a lack of resources"

      So we had a nice round of redundancies, where all the highly experienced staff walked off with nice deal, then the next Qtr we find we cannot bid on anything new as no highly experienced staff available, those who stayed are stuck doing extensions or existing delivery and no one allowed to do unbillable work. Its a farce and they wonder why we cannot win new business that is competitive. The single most poorly lead company I have ever seen. So currently having to no bid deal after deal as we cannot find competent technical staff. But is ok we are on a recruitment drive, anyone want to join we have great IT...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "due to a lack of resources"

        Hmm all those resource actions making room for the young to move in, at a must cheaper price. Problem is they think they know everything and as the saying goes there’s your problem ! Perhaps its time to re-install the PROFS email system on VM ?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heads will roll...

    Well, deputy heads...

    1. UdoGoetz

      Re: Heads will roll...

      Resource Decapitation ?

  10. Howard Sway Silver badge

    an IBM VP who made it extremely expensive, maintenance intensive, and free of customers

    Isn't that what all of them have been busy doing?

    IBM were always the first two, the third one is the result of them staying that way when the world moved on.

    1. UdoGoetz


      Once had to install their DB/2 ODBC connector. I only got it done with the assistance of an IBM customer engineer.

      Oracle, MySQL, MSSQL I could easily get done myself using the installer plus a bit of reading,

      1. Robert Grant

        Re: Bingo

        This is the trick: have customers whose organisational structure means that the person who decides to use DB/2 has no idea how ludicrous that situation is.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bingo

        "DB/2 ODBC connector"

        you just kicked off some extreme PTSD for some readers...

  11. Nursing A Semi

    Free of customers?

    When a contract goes out for tender, rarely is it the most expensive that gets the contract, usually it is amongst the cheapest with a reputation for being slightly less crap than those in a similar price bracket. IT companies know this and also know that after a couple of years the majority of customers will be dissatisfied enough to look for someone new to f...up their IT for them.

    End result is a constant merry-go-round of customers moving from one badly run service to another. So sadly there will always be enough people looking to change supplier to ensure that even the worst IT services companies will have no shortage of new customers.

    1. UdoGoetz

      Re: Free of customers?

      Well, it seems most IT clients have figured they can go directly to Tata, EPAM, IBA, Wipro and Infosys. They dont need to splice IBM or HP in between them and the low cost engineers.

      Or they go to Google, Amazon, 1&1, Hetzner and MSFT for cloudy stuff.

      And if something is mission critical, there are specialist development consultancies around, with much better engineers than you can ever get from the "computer" companies.

      IBM can by now only attract expensive sales reps and cheap engineers.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some vested interests in IBM decided years ago email was "old hat" and decided all staff would use slack instead of email.

    Looks like that decision worked out well for IBM, who think email is a worthless tool.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      SLACK is a royal PITA.

      Workspace overload, multiple channels, sometimes multiple channels dealing with the same problem but with different members. Direct messages ping up on all workspaces so suddenly there's a raft of message alerts when there really is only one.

      Suddenly you are wondering where you saw information from someone. Was it Email? Was it SLACK? If it was SLACK, which channel....

      I am not a fan!

  13. PeterM42


    Itty Bitty Mail

    What were you expecting from IBM? - something that worked?!?!?

    1. Anonymous South African Coward

      Re: IBM

      Heyup, another one to add to the list of "just what does IBM stand for"...

  14. Daedalus

    The gorilla lost weight

    So you sell your e-mail system to another company who decide to cut you off. And you roll over and take the hit. What happened to IBM getting its way because it's the 600 lb gorilla? I'm reminded of another incident where a large company (now formerly large thanks to a shift in how people take pictures) got shafted by a supplier of hardware for its new "digital revolution" and said "Oh, OK". Come to think of it, that supplier also went under in a way, being bought by a company that was bought by another company that lost its own way and is now best known for annoying cruft supplied with printers.

    All of which tells us that we're in an asylum run by idiots.

    1. Dabooka

      Re: The gorilla lost weight


      Just name them FFS, what's holding you back?

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: The gorilla lost weight


        Just name them FFS, what's holding you back?"

        there are hints of Polaroid & Kodak in there.

        not sure what the printer ref is though, Xerox or Canon?

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: The gorilla lost weight

          My money is on Kodak, TBH, with Polaroid as a close runner-up.

        2. s36e175

          Re: The gorilla lost weight

          Kodak outsourced to Digital Equipment, who was bought by Compaq, who was bought by HP.

  15. teknopaul

    sudo apt install postfix

    Being IBM it might take a while to get sudo privs enabled

    1. FozzyBear

      Of course it does, firstly you need to submit a 10 page document outlining the reasons for said privileges to your line manager. After which s/he will inform you that that document was superseded by one available on one of their lotus/slack/intranet/cloud/watson/cognos/mainframe resource sites . they cant remember which .

      After filling in the new document you must then get sign off from 2 other line managers ( who happen to have nothing to do with the platform at all ), attend a 3 day internal on line course ( only available in 1 months time, seriously WTF????? ) , do a 10 minute 10 question Q&A with 100% pass, Wait another week for HR to issue the certificate of completion.

      Once you have said certificate you then need to email it to (oh wait ..... )

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So this a migration from Cloud back to On Premise?

    The Notes Domino servers were running in HCL SmartCloud Notes, but will now be running on IBM gear in some IBM data centre, right? The irony here is long before either HCL or SmartCloud came into the picture, where do you think all this was being run? Reminds me of Doctor Number 4's time in E-Space (OG Doctor Who, Season 18, series 3 - "Full Circle").

    1. Snark

      Re: So this a migration from Cloud back to On Premise?

      It would probably have been cheaper (and simpler) for them to just buy out the cloud service that was being discontinued and make it 'private' to IBM only.

      'We are too busy with customer systems' is a terrible excuse. Why would I trust my data with a company that can't keep its own moving.

      But on the other side, I lasted about a few months being TUPE'd to IBM and having to use Lotus Notes was a pretty close tie to the management and culture as being 'the worst thing'. So maybe IBM is now suddenly a lot more efficient...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's way worse

    First hand. No email for over 2 weeks. Minus a restore of 25k emails, that wasn't asked for. Sales deals in 1 department alone is several million, while not quite lost, end of half deals didn't close. Sales Reps have been let go. Been told, do the best you can.

  18. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Hurry Krishna

    Fix the email before it's too late

    1. Nursing A Semi

      Re: Hurry Krishna

      Thumbs up, although you could have added a "Hurry, Hurry".

  19. Anonymous South African Coward

    The failure of the email migration, this person said, is the result of incompetent people.

    And why do you have incompetent people? Hmmmm... maybe it has something to do with Manglement wanting to get rid of older, more experienced employees?

    Almost pub time, gonna read On Call, then BOFH... then kick back and relax.

  20. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    The thing that most surprises me,....

    ... that I learned from this article, is that there are over 100,000 IBMers left.

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