Lennox Takes CMO Job as Zend Plans for Growth
July 11, 2011 Alex Woodie
Elaine Lennox, the former IBM vice president of marketing for the System i platform, has been hired as the chief marketing officer of PHP tool vendor Zend Technologies, it was announced while IT Jungle was on hiatus for the holiday. The hiring of Lennox, along with appointment of a new CFO, sends a signal that Zend is getting ready for a growth spurt, particularly as it pertains to the two hottest growth areas in IT: cloud and mobile computing.
It’s no great secret that IBM i shops have a love/hate relationship with IBM. While IBM i types absolutely adore the technology and the managers and programmers in Rochester, Minnesota, who make the magic happen, they hold a considerable amount of disdain for the executives based in others parts of the country (mostly located in upstate New York), who they perceive as not doing enough to promote the platform (at best) to intentionally holding the platform back (at its conspiratorial worst).
Whoever happens to occupy one of the two hot seats in the IBM i-Power Systems bureaucracy–including the general manager position and the vice president of marketing–can expect a fair amount of vitriol to be aimed their way. While the animosity has abated somewhat over the last few years, IBM i newbies should know that it used to be quite fiery (as a Google site search for “COMMON Sound Off” of the IT Jungle shows).
But somehow, Lennox, who occupied the hot seat in 2006 and 2007–during the launch of Power6 servers, i5/OS V5R4, and the transition from iSeries to System i5–never seemed to attract the kind of animosity that many of her predecessors and successors have endured. The fact that Lennox identified with the passion that was so obviously emanating from the iSeries customer base allowed to her fit in with the platform diehards.
Lennox, who started work last month at Zend’s headquarters Cupertino, California, remembers the time spent as the VP of System i marketing with a certain degree of fondness. “That was the most fun job I had during the entire time I was at IBM,” she told IT Jungle recently. “It’s just such a vibrant community. I said this back then and it’s still true today, that it’s fun to get to work in an environment where you have a community that cares about what you’re doing as a company and your marketing efforts.”
The longtime Northern California resident now will test her marketing chops against a decidedly different kind of customer: developers. In fact, she’ll be charged with drumming up enthusiasm for two distinct groups: the millions of developers who use open source PHP and the 40,000 paying Zend customers.
The way Lennox sees it, Zend is well positioned to exploit the tremendous interest in open source PHP and help take the company to the next level, in terms of the size and influence of the company, and the sophistication of its solutions.
“I think Zend has a tremendous opportunity right now because you’ve got a community of about 5 million developers on PHP, and someone is going to help them work at how to develop the next generation of cloud applications,” she says. “If you look at what made PHP successful, it’s the ability for it to be a lightweight, fast, iterative language. That’s exactly what people are looking for in the cloud environment.”
A hint at how this translates into product features can be found in Zend Server 5.5, which was recently released as a beta. According to Lennox, the new version will help to simplify the deployment of PHP apps. “The PHP community and Zend have accelerated the development cycle. Now, how do we help accelerate the deployment cycle as well?”
In addition to helping developers create cloud applications, Zend is looking at enabling them to build mobile apps. To that end, the company recently announced that it’s including a version of Adobe‘s Flash Builder in Zend Studio. Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP will enable developers to create Flex and PHP applications with a single code base, and deploy them to a mix of mobile platforms, including iOS, Android, and the Blackberry Tablet OS.
With her background in IBM i, Lennox is well positioned to continue to advocate for the platform within Zend. But there’s not a lot more that needs to be done, she says. “I think we’re doing pretty well on this partnership, and we need to keep building on what we got,” she says. “Zend didn’t hire me because I came from IBM. They hired me because they thought I could really come and help accelerate the next level of progress in cloud and community marketing.”
Her experience with IBM i may come in handy in helping to address the situation with Oracle‘s support for the MySQL database on the IBM i. Lennox says the end of support is on her radar. “I feel confident that you’re going to continue to see the combination of MySQL and Zend work well and be supported on the i, but we’ll be back to you with more news over time on how that’s going to come about,” she says.
Zend Server 5.5 is expected to become generally available this fall. Coincidentally, that lines up with Zend Con, the world’s largest PHP event, which Zend is hosting October 17 to 20. It’s a fair bet that there will be some mention of Zend Server 5.5 at the show. It will also be a showcase for Lennox’s marketing talents, if not her talents at writing PHP.
In the meantime, Lennox will be pushing forward with PHP lessons. “I have a pretty diverse background, but one thing I’m not is a PHP specialist,” she admits. “I’m not coming into this as someone who can code in PHP, although I challenged someone last week to teach me, because I think it’s time I learned.”
Lennox was hired as CMO at the same time as Curt DiSibio was appointed CFO. DiSibio comes to Zend from foreign exchange trading software company, where he was CFO. Both will report directly to Andi Gutmans, the company’s CEO and co-founder.