Archive for December, 2008

New Year, New Start


Something’s missing on Cathcarts Corner, for the first time in 22-years, there is no IBM in the center of my CV. I’ll be starting in a new position at Dell on Monday 12th of January, as a Director of Systems Engineering, and Distinguished Engineer.

I enjoyed my time at IBM enormously; I got to work with some great people, on some great development and customer projects. My time came to an end though in Power Systems and more recently, data center networking.

In IBM, I’d never been part of a traditional development organization, rather, as my long time mentor and good friend Adrian Walmsley once noted, a poacher turned game keeper.

In my last four years at IBM, every project I’ve worked on has been subject to major compromise, cut-back and delays to accommodate another part of the IBM business, and I found that too frustrating.

My first project in IBM Power Systems was a great learning lesson. We spent 5-months looking at the software requirements for the follow-on processor to the p6. Presented with two processor designs, in the end we decided to go with the obvious one that built on the existing p6 chip, rather than a radical, highly multithreaded alternative.

After that, I failed to get any real software interest, either as platform function, packaging or, importantly in systems, or platform management function. Although some of my core recommendations are being built for the next generations of servers, it was obvious that the Power Systems team were still maniacally focused on dominating the Unix hardware performance at the cost of almost everything else.

I’ve no idea how different things will be at Dell. Unlike IBM Systems Group who have to solve every problem on four different architectures, and for a dozen or so unique machine type-models, Dell have their own challenges. I’m looking forward to helping solve them.

About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.

I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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