It’s official now: SoftLayer’s Lance Crosby exits IBM

The writing was on the wall when IBM named another guy to head up its cloud operations, but now it’s apparently official: Lance Crosby, the CEO of SoftLayer, which IBM acquired in July 2013 for $2.2 billion, is leaving the company.

Most had expected SoftLayer’s top guy — who was initially named GM of all of IBM’s Cloud business — to stick around till the two-year anniversary of the deal, but such was not to be.

[company]IBM[/company] confirmed Crosby’s resignation to eWeek which first reported the news early on Wednesday. In a statement an IBM spokesman wished Crosby the best in his new endeavors and thanked him for his efforts.

Others at and near to the company said Crosby had designs on keeping the top cloud job but was thwarted when IBM named long-timer Robert Leblanc top cloud exec.

LeBlanc is widely respected, but as noted here last week,  the notion of someone who’s spent nearly 30 years at IBM leading its all-important cloud charge is not great news for those who see the need for fresh blood to lead this key business.

From that story:

Speaking of SoftLayer, Lance Crosby, who retained his CEO title when SoftLayer was acquired by IBM two years ago for $2.2 billion, is now general manager of cloud innovation and business development at IBM. Meanwhile Robert LeBlanc, who joined IBM in 1981, is now the official cloud guy, aka SVP of Cloud  — so those hoping for an outsider perspective to guide IBM’s cloud may be disappointed.

The SoftLayer acquisition gave IBM some cloud mojo it sorely lacked up till then. Big Blue, built on sales of hardware, software and services to large companies lagged far behind public cloud leader [company]Amazon[/company] Web Services, which dominates in the startup segment but started an enterprise push three or so years ago.

The notion that security- and compliance-sensitive customers would automatically default to IBM cloud solutions was decimated in early 2013 when the CIA opted to use Amazon’s cloud over IBM’s, even though Amazon bid a higher price. The $2 billion SoftLayer buy was seen as a response to that direct threat.

To see how Crosby viewed IBM’s cloud game plan, check out the video of his Structure 2014 appearance below.