Top Ten Storage Stars: Winter Refresh

The most influential people in the storage networking industry, updated for 2003

February 15, 2003

15 Min Read
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Ah, the Byte and Switch Top 10 Storage Networking Stars list. Such a booming success, it almost broke our Web traffic counter!

Well, not quite. Where were you people? When we launched our first version of this list six months ago, we heard nary a peep from anyone (see Top Ten Storage Networking Stars). OK, we heard one very irritating peep from a Wall Street type who was unbelievably cheesed off that we hadn't put one of his buddies on our list:

"I am just trying to pacify some important storage thought leaders who have to answer to CIOs and CEOs who do not understand your constituencies, motivations, and biases," Jim Berlino of Morgan Stanley wrote to us at the time. Jim, our biases and motivations are outlined below and in the story that follows.

But for the most part, we must have been so spot-on with our picks that none of you could find anything to disagree with, right? Perhaps you will see fit to comment on our new list, which we have updated since one of our esteemed entrants got laid off (see Salomon Axes Storage Team).

Had Salomon Smith Barney consulted with us before making its abrupt decision to chop senior storage analyst Clint Vaughan, we would have told them a thing or two about Clint: He was bright and wicked fast at getting his investor notes out, which were always insightful. The loss is Salomon's. More important, it screws up our list.Due to popular demand, Robert Montague and his team over at RBC Capital Markets will replace Vaughan. We received tons of email from readers demanding that Montague and company be on the list, so lets see how they stack up.

We've made a few other tweaks to the list. But to those of you who nominated yourselves – or worse still, your boss! – you know who you are. We have decided to spare you the horrible embarrassment of mentioning you by name. This time.

Before we cut to the action, note that we've added a new rule: No more than one person from any company can be on the list at the same time. It's just easier that way. To recap, here are the rules for getting on the list:

  • Rule No. 1: Proven Track Record – Self explanatory.

    Rule No. 2: Current Influence – With customers, Wall Street, and the industry at large.Rule No. 3: Vision for Storage Networking – In other words, addicted to it and not about to retire anytime soon.

    Rule No. 4: Only One Per Company – A company or organization may be represented only once on the list.

    Rule No. 5: Rules Subject to Change – We can introduce a new one whenever we feel like it.

Table 1: Top Ten Storage Networking Stars





Dave Donatelli



H.K. Desai



Dan Warmenhoven

Network Appliance


Naoya Takahashi



Robert Montague

RBC Capital Markets


Steve Duplessie

Enterprise Storage Group


Larry Boucher



Gary Bloom



Geoff Barrall



Luca Cafiero


The Anteroom



Kumar Malavalli


Fred van den Bosch


Dave Hitz

Network Appliance

Clint Vaughan

Salomon Smith Barney

— The Editors, Byte and Switch

Figure 1: Dave Donatelli

EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is back, and it's largely due to this man, who's spent the past 18 months slaving over the launch of the new Symmetrix DMX and the Clariion CX families, as well as the NS600 Clariion-based NAS system (see EMC Soups Up Symm, EMC Revs Up Clariion, and EMC Darts Into Midtier NA$).

Donatelli, executive VP of EMC's storage platforms operations, replaces Naoya Takahasi, president of Hitachi Ltd.'s (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA) disk business in Japan, in our No. 1 slot (more on him later).

It was Dave's job to get EMC to use common components and software across all its hardware platforms – no mean feat – a move that stands to lower manufacturing and R&D costs. He's made good progress, and EMC is now poised to recover its lost market share in the year ahead. In case he pops his clogs from exhaustion at any moment, we’ve decided to give him a well-deserved run at the top.

For more about Donatelli, see his entry on our previous list.

Figure 2: H.K. Desai

Talk about diversified product lines: H.K. has branched into casual wear! Check out the H.K. (hardkor!) sweatpants at his new site, HK Sports.

Desai, president and CEO of QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC), maintains his position at No. 2, as his company keeps on driving forward with steady earnings growth and gaining traction with its "Fibre Down" strategy, most recently with Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) (see QLogic Keeps on Truckin' and HP Puts QLogic in Blade Server).

But to get to the coveted No. 1 spot, we’re thinking a line of fragrances.
H.K. Desai – For the man who knows the power of a SAN...

For more on H.K., see his entry on our previous list.

Figure 3: Dan Warmenhoven

Dan Warmenhoven, CEO of Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), has ensured the company hasn’t missed a single step so far. His decision to hook up with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) was a great move, as it gets NetApp into a new market, vying for bigger accounts – and it scares EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), all at the same time. Killing three birds with one stone: pretty impressive, we think. Check out the company's latest quarter, too. These guys are charged up and firing on all filers! (See NetApp Q3 Profit Triples and HDS OEMs NetApp: Big Deal?)

Warmenhoven gets the No. 3 spot on our list, displacing Dave Hitz, NetApp's founder and executive VP of engineering, who we still think is a worthy candidate for the list. But in adhering to our new rule, only one of these chaps can be on the list at once. And Dan is pushing all the right buttons to maintain the company’s growth, despite the sluggish economy.

Since Warmenhoven assumed leadership of the company in 1994, NetApp has rocketed to $1 billion in revenue for the company's most recent fiscal year. In the five-year period from fiscal year 1997 through 2001, Network Appliance grew at a compound annual growth rate of 85 percent. Much of this growth came from dotcom companies, but amazingly, Network Appliance has successfully managed to morph itself into an enterprise-focused organization, and today more of its business comes from Fortune 500 companies than from the Internet and tech sector.

If Dan can keep the motor running, he'll stay on our list.

Figure 5: Naoya Takahashi

Takahashi, president of Hitachi Ltd.'s (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA) disk array business, drops three spots to No. 4. Why? Mainly because his fiercest competition – EMC – is back on track with a new high-end storage array, the Symmetrix DMX, that looks menacing.

EMC plans to steal back the market share it lost to Hitachi and others, which puts Takahashi and Hitachi in a vulnerable position. If he holds fast against the storage giant, you can be sure he’ll move back up the list. Until then, HDS and Takahashi are back on their heels.

For more on Takahashi, see his entry on our previous list.

Figure 4: Robert Montague

A new entrant at No. 5, Robert "Monty" Montague reminds us of the headmaster we were at once petrified by and in total awe of at school. At RBC Capital Markets' recent storage conference in New York, Montague came striding down the corridor toward us -- he’s about 8 feet tall with a dark beard -- and gave us a nod of recognition. Our reporter stood frozen to the spot, trying to think of something intelligent to say, but Monty was long gone. Whew! At least he didn’t kick us out.

When it comes to analysis of the storage market, Montague and his team, which includes analysts Stephen Denegri and Tom Curlin, are the best in the business. While most of Wall Street blows with the wind, restricting its analysis to quarterly earnings, Montague, Denegri, and Curlin base their analyses on deeply researched market trends and dynamics, as well as customer input.

Prior to joining RBC in 2001, Montague was a senior technology analyst and managing director at Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. While there, he developed and expanded the technology practice into communication product segments. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee and an MBA from Bellarmine College.

Figure 6: Steve Duplessie

Holding fast at No. 6 is Steve Duplessie, founder of the Enterprise Storage Group Inc., infamous in the storage market for his witty, no-holds-barred analysis. He's also the only person to make the Byte and Switch quote of the week more than once – he's done it three times! Here are the words that earned him his triple crown:"Anyone who doesn't think this is the beginning of a huge market is insane." – Steve on the IETF’s approval of iSCSI (see iSCSI Gets Go-Ahead).

"This gives Veritas a lot more muscle in big accounts... EMC could have used that Precise Software sales force." – Steve on Veritas's acquisition of Precise (see Veritas Gets Precise).

"Microsoft has no backup technology of its own and probably would like to compete with the mighty Veritas." – Steve on potential suitors for BakBone Software (see BakBone Up For Sale?).

If you're looking for a straight talker who knows everyone in the business, Duplessie is your man. And this makes him an important contender on our list.

For more on Steve, see his entry on our previous list.

Figure 7: Larry Boucher

Staying put at No. 7 is Larry Boucher, founder, president, and CEO of Alacritech Inc. At last, the iSCSI specification has been ratified by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which means Larry’s TCP/IP storage component company should be in a good position to make headway (see iSCSI Gets Go-Ahead).

Boucher previously founded Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT). Once he saw the potential for IP storage, he made the leap into starting a new company. Unfortunately, iSCSI floundered for about 18 months, but we think that’s largely due to the economy. Alacritech’s time is now, and we predict Larry will lead it to success.

For more on Boucher, see his entry on our previous list.

Figure 8: Gary Bloom

We had our doubts, initially, about Gary Doom -- as he's been referred to by some in the industry. He took on the job of president and CEO of Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) in January 2000, and it's seemingly been one long headache ever since.

The executive turmoil at Veritas appeared never-ending, as last year one VP after another abandoned ship -- or was nudged overboard (see Veritas CTO Clocks Out, Veritas Loses Pair of Senior VPs, Veritas VP Defects to Arkivio, and Veritas Fearing Defections?).

Meanwhile, Bloom was hiring old cronies from Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), among other companies, and giving them top positions, which left a bad taste in the mouth of many of the longer-standing employees at Veritas (see Veritas Names Chief Marketing Officer).

Could he get the ship in order and lead the company into new markets, analysts wondered? After the embarrassing fiasco with Ken Lonchar, the company’s former CFO who lied about his MBA from Stanford, some wondered if it might all be too much for Bloom (see Veritas Fires Veteran CFO).

But he kept his head down and clearly had more important things on his mind. In December last year, he astounded the industry by spending half a billion dollars on Precise Software, an acquisition that received praise across the board (see Veritas Gets Precise and Veritas Grabs the Horns).Presumably, Bloom also had a hand in Veritas's decision to stop selling its ServPoint products -- leaving this to its partners instead. It's another bold move on his part, and one that demonstrates his ability to lead. He's a strong candidate to move up this list if his execution skills pay off (see Veritas Scraps ServPoint Strategy).

Prior to joining Veritas, Bloom was one of the top execs at Oracle, where he most recently served as executive VP of its system products division, which includes Oracle's core database business. In his 14 years at Oracle, he also led its marketing, support, education, and alliance organizations, and was responsible for mergers and acquisitions, global information technology, and the Oracle Venture Fund. Before joining Oracle in 1986, he held various technical positions at IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Chevron (now ChevronTexaco Corp.).

He may be a controversial new entry to our list, but we're willing to give him a shot.

Figure 9: Geoff Barrall

Geoff "Golden Boy" Barrall, CTO of BlueArc Corp., maintains his spot on our list at No. 9, as the company continues to win business against two of the biggest companies in storage – EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP).BlueArc's latest customers include two university supercomputing labs, Penn State and Rice University (see BlueArc Hits Higher Ed and BlueArc Touts Customer Wins).

For more on Geoff’s background – including his robot-making skills – see his entry on our previous list.

Figure 10: Luca Cafiero

Sliding in at No. 10 is Luca Cafiero, senior VP and general manager of the storage technology group at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). He's a well known name in the networking world, and he'll soon be even more well known in the storage industry.

Responsible for the development of Cisco's storage networking product strategy and implementation – along with its go-to-market plans – Cafiero holds the keys to new growth and revenue for Cisco.In true Italian style, he's as cool as a cucumber on the subject. In a recent interview with Byte and Switch, he said: "We are doing great; everything is going well... Andiamo was a way to expand into a new business and a nice way to open up a new business." (See our interview with Cafiero and Soni Jiandani, VP Marketing, Storage Tech Group, Cisco.)

And why is he so calm about it? Cafiero has led several successful projects at Cisco, including the development of the Catalyst 6000/6500 switches – Cisco’s single largest product line in terms of revenue to date. Prior to this, he was the VP of engineering responsible for the Catalyst 5000/5500 family. These were the products from Crescendo Communications, a company Cafiero founded and sold to Cisco in September 1993.

If Cisco executes well in the storage market, it will be largely due to the leadership of this man. But in order to move up the list, Cafiero will have to show some results!

We've politely escorted a few former members of our Top 10 Storage Networking Stars list into the waiting room, where they'll have to sip bad coffee and peruse back issues of Granta for a while. They are:

Fred van den Bosch, CTO and executive VP of product strategy at Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS), who has been replaced by his esteemed leader, Gary Bloom. Remember that our new rule allows for only one person from each company to be on the list at once.Ditto for Dave Hitz, founder and VP of engineering at Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), who is replaced by his chief, Dan Warmintheoven... sorry, Warmenhoven.

Kumar Malavalli, founder of Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and mentor to CEO Greg Reyes, drops off the list for now. We're waiting to see how Brocade's acquisition of Rhapsody Networks – which Malavalli undoubtedly had a hand in – plays out. Brocade also seriously needs to get its mojo back, especially as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) pounds into the market (see Brocade Puts Up Q1 Loss).

And last but not least, our old friend Clint Vaughan got the boot from his employer. Not much we could do about that one. Vaughan is replaced on our list by Robert Montague, managing director and analyst at RBC Capital Markets

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