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Ed Iacobucci, IBM developer and co-founder of Citrix, dead at 59

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June 25, 2013

Edward Iacobucci, a former IBM developer who co-founded the U.S. computer software company Citrix, died yesterday of pancreatic cancer at age 59, his former company announced.

His most recent venture was Virtual Works Group, a company he cofounded in Florida four years ago to better manage "data sprawl."

Facing rapidly declining health, he stepped down from his position as chief executive in mid-May.

"Ed's spirit of entrepreneurship, creativity, passion and persistence with just everything will always remain at the core of Citrix," chief executive Mark Templeton said.

Born in Buenos Aires to two Argentines, Iacobucci began his career at IBM back in 1979, where he worked on the company's commercial software and personal computer businesses.

He moved up the ranks to eventually lead the joint IBM-Microsoft design team responsible for OS/2, an early milestone in the evolution of personal computer operating systems that was used in automated bank teller machines, public transit ticket machines and supermarket checkout systems.

In retrospect, OS/2 sought to be "a better DOS than DOS itself, and a better Windows than Windows," technical columnist Mark Stephens wrote more than seven years ago.

The new operating system would go on to become a rapidly growing and divisive problem between IBM and Microsoft, coloring the companies' relations for more than two decades.

Way back in 1989, Iacobucci was offered a job at Microsoft as chief technical officer of its networking group. In a 2011 video, he describes his job interview with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Instead, he left IBM to raise $3 million in new capital to pursue continued development in server-based technology. The company he cofounded was named Citrix Systems.

Iacobucci took on the role of chairman, appointed Texas Instruments veteran Roger Roberts as chief executive and hired five engineers away from IBM.

The young company then took two years to develop its first product, which was called Citrix Multiuser OS/2, so named because it would work with Iacobucci's former project.

The software allowed more than one user at a time to tap into the operating system through a central server-- the very basis of how servers work in a modern LAN (local area network) today.

Just a few days before Citrix was to ship its very first product, out of the blue, Microsoft suddenly announced that it would drop OS/2 in favor of its new operating system-- Windows. That decision sent Citrix into a tailspin. Its new product was instantly rendered obsolete, but the company retrenched to make a Windows version instead.

Fueled by the widespread adoption of the personal computer in the early days, of course Citrix grew very rapidly. In 1997, Iacobucci led the company to sign a joint development agreement with Microsoft to include Citrix multi-user capabilities in its Microsoft Windows NT Server. In 2000, he then stepped down as chairman.

Totally restless in his retirement, Iacobucci co-founded DayJet Corporation in 2002 with the goal of using on demand optimization technology to further broaden the accessibility and affordability of jet travel.

Despite a five-year agreement with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the company ran out of capital and folded in 2008.

In 2009, he co-founded VirtualWorks. "Every human being has his own vision of what's happening in the future," Iacobucci said in a 1998 award acceptance speech.

"I was lucky in that what I thought would happen did in deed happen. When we know we can do it and the rest of the world doesn't, that's when things get really interesting," he then added.

Iacobucci is survived by his wife, Nancy Lee, his three children, Marianna, William and Michelle, his mother, Costantina, brother, Billy and three grandchildren.

In other IT news

Earlier this morning, Cisco has announced that it's considering acquiring cloud virtualisation firm Composite Software for about $180 million. Negotiations have been ongoing for the past 10 days we are told.

Cisco says it would like to integrate the data virtualisation software and services company into its own portfolio of Smart Services.

"Cisco's strategy is to create a next generation IT model that provides highly differentiated solutions to help solve our customers' most challenging business problems," Cisco COO Gary Moore said.

He added "By combining our network expertise with the performance of Cisco's Unified Computing System and Composite's software, we will provide enterprise customers with instant access to data analysis for greater business intelligence."

The company added that Composite Software employees would be acquired along with the company in the transaction and would join Cisco’s services team.

On top of the $180 million in cash, Cisco will add retention-based incentives for the virtualization business and would hope to close the deal by the first quarter of fiscal 2014, the company added.

In other IT news

Scientists at Fujitsu just had a bad week. That's because their shiny new supercomputer crashed just a few days after having been placed in service. Formally opened to user traffic on Monday, dubbed 'Raijin', the supercomputer is a Fujitsu Primergy system with 57,472 SandyBridge cores, 160 TB of main memory, 10 PB of usable high-speed filesystem space, all connected together with Mellanox FDR interconnectors.

About 68 percent of its nodes have 32 GB of memory, 31 percent feature 64 GB, and less than two percent of the nodes get 128 GB in all.

Fujitsu says its peak performance is 1.2 Pflops, and it achieved a six-fold improvement in filesystem performance compared to its predecessor, dubbed Vayu, a Sun Constellation whose 11,936 Xeon cores could only work at 140 Tflops.

On its start up day, the NCI says Raijin became Australia's number one supercomputer and number 24 in he Top 500 supercomputer list.

And how long did it take users to max out the new system? One day, according to the NCI's Ben Evans on Twitter. "We finally released the new NCI Raijin supercomputer for general access earlier this week. It took less than one day for users to spike to full capacity", he posted.

Worse, about half of that memory and CPU consumption was down to one single job. Associate Professor Evatt Hawkes had a code running on 32,769 cores - over half the system.

Source: Citrix.

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