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Shakeup in the Storage Business

Word spread rapidly Tuesday afternoon as news of Dave Donatelli's departure from EMC leaked out from Hopkinton, Mass. The much-anticipated press release announcing Donatelli's departure and his interim replacement, finally hit the Website late in the day. The news stunned many, surprised a few, and made perfect sense to a handful of people who know him or have been associated with him over the years.

The big news here is not that Dave has departed from EMC after 22 years. No, the big news is where he has decided to go. The news of Dave's departure was quickly followed up by HP's confirmation that Dave has joined their team as executive vice president of enterprise servers, storage, and networks. This is a significant grab of industry talent by HP -- and one that brings with it some of the positive core values that have enabled Dave's past employer to accelerate their growth over the years.

Sure, EMC has taken its knocks as an arrogant storage vendor; however from my experience with the company -- and with Dave -- there are plenty of positive aspects to the culture and Dave typified those. HP is sure to have a leader onboard who will build team loyalty, energize the troops, keep products on schedule, and listen to what customers want by way of products, features, and functionality.

With changes as big as this, questions are bound to arise. I have a couple that may be answered throughout the balance of 2009. What will Dave do with the enterprise storage line from HP? Will he keep the high-end Hitachi product or reach out to EMC and leverage the new V-Max (which he just launched) for the growing demand for virtualized servers?

One thing is for sure, EMC will not let any moss grow under their feet from a management perspective -- as evidenced by their appointing seasoned EMC veteran Frank Hauck as interim leader of the company's storage division. It remains to be seen whether EMC will name Hauck as the permanent replacement for Donatelli, promote from within, or hire from outside the company.

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