IBM was once the undisputed star of enterprise tech — the company that sold the hardware and software running many of the business world's computer networks.
But Big Blue has found itself falling behind in the cloud, where even the largest of companies are shifting some or all of their computing infrastructure to the tech giants' massive data centers. That market is dominated by more powerful rivals like Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
IBM is making a big bet on a related trend, hybrid cloud, which lets businesses store data and use applications on cloud platforms, while maintaining big chunks of their networks in private data centers.
CEO Ginni Rometty boldly predicted in January that IBM will be the first-place player in that emerging market, which IBM predicts will eventually be worth $1 trillion. IBM just bought Red Hat for $34 billion, to form a cornerstone of this bold bet.
Amid all of this, industry insiders have started to wonder out loud about who might one day replace Rometty, 62, who has served as CEO since 2012. To be clear, there's no indication that IBM's chief exec is going anywhere. But that hasn't stopped the chatter: In August, a Morgan Stanley analyst predicted that Jim Whitehurst, the CEO of Red Hat, will inherit the mantle.
IBM isn't saying anything, and declined to comment for this story. But in light of IBM's hybrid cloud push, and the Red Hat acquisition — the largest in the company's history — we thought it would be a good time to take a look at IBM's executive bench, and the leadership taking it to the next stage. There might even be some clues into who is the heir apparent at IBM.