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Lotus head gets new role at Big Blue

IBM is reassigning the general manager of its Lotus Software unit, Al Zollar, to take charge of the iSeries server division.

IBM is reassigning the general manager of its Lotus Software unit, Al Zollar, to head up one of Big Blue's server hardware groups.

Zollar, who took the helm at Lotus three years ago, will become general manager of IBM's iSeries server division. Ambuj Goyal, a strategist and business manager in the IBM Software group, will replace Zollar as Lotus general manager, a company representative said Thursday.

"Al Zollar has effected quite a turnaround and brought Lotus into the IBM software group and its middleware push...while retaining Lotus' high profile," said the IBM representative. The switch at the top does not represent a shift in strategy at Lotus, which competes with Microsoft and others in the e-mail and collaborative software marketplace, the representative said.

Zollar took over management of Lotus in early 2000 after former CEO Jeff Papows resigned amid reports that Papows embellished his education and military service record to help his career at Lotus. At the time, the appointment of Zollar, a 23-year IBM veteran, to head Cambridge, Mass.-based Lotus appeared to indicate IBM's desire to pull Lotus closer into the fold.

In the past three years, IBM has tried to more closely align the Lotus Notes software with IBM's middleware software under the WebSphere brand.

Since acquiring Lotus in 1995, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM has endeavored to retain the independence of the Lotus division, which was a trailblazer in the PC industry with its 1-2-3 spreadsheet and later with its Lotus Notes collaborative software product. Although IBM does not break out financials for separate divisions, the Lotus unit is said to have posted unprofitable quarters over the past year.

Zollar will succeed Buell Duncan, who was general manager at the iSeries group. iSeries servers, which used to be called the AS/400, have a large installed based at small and medium-sized companies. Duncan will take over Goyal's previous post in IBM's software group.