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Top EMC exec jumps ship for HP

Donatelli fills servers, storage and networking berth

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EMC storage division president David Donatelli is leaving EMC, in an abrupt and surprising move, to become HP's Executive Vice President for Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking.

Effective from 5 May, Donatelli will report to Ann Livermore, EVP of the Technology Solutions Group at HP, to lead the development of HP’s server, storage and networking solutions. This will make him, in effect, Mr. Matrix.

His responsibilities will include the Enterprise Storage and Server (ESS) business unit, which had fiscal year 2008 revenues of $19.4 billion. This business unit contains Business Critical Systems, Industry Standard Servers, StorageWorks, ESS Infrastructure Software and Blades.

Donatelli replaces Scott Stallard, who after 34 years, is retiring from HP.

Donatelli will not have a direct CEO reporting position as he did at EMC, but he gets server and networking responsibilities, something EMC could never have offered. HP's statement said: "In an associated move, the HP ProCurve Networking business will also be part of Donatelli’s responsibility. Marius Haas, senior vice president and worldwide general manager of HP ProCurve, will report to Donatelli. As the future of computing moves toward converged platforms of servers, storage and networking, this combination accelerates the drive for efficiency and innovation, as well as increases the value customers receive from HP’s infrastructure solutions."

Donatelli will have intimate and detailed knowledge of EMC's Cisco relationship and the background to this move includes HP's Matrix aggregated blade server, networking and storage system response to Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS). The Donatelli recruitment will significantly strengthen the operational management and future prospects for HP's storage systems, with consequent negative implications for EMC.

For example, will HP continue to OEM HDS' USP-V as its high-end storage array?

Donatelli was the president of EMC's main money-earner, the Information Storage division, which has just launched the high-end Symmetrix V-Max. Frank Hauck, an EMC empoyee for 18 years and its executive VP for global marketing and customer quality, is the interim replacement, with Joe Tucci saying: "I’ve asked Frank to step in and lead the company’s storage division as we continue to aggressively invest and execute on our plan to further extend our technology and market leadership."

EMC has said this previously about Donatelli: "Donatelli joined EMC in 1987 and has held important management positions in nearly every area of the company, including sales, marketing, customer service, manufacturing and alliances. He led EMC's highly successful entry into the open systems market in 1995."

Donatelli became VP for new business development in 1999, and then a senior VP. EMC said: "As Senior Vice President of New Business Development for the past two years, Donatelli and his organization have been responsible for identifying companies and technologies for potential EMC acquisition or investment, and completing the execution of agreements with those EMC chooses to pursue. Under Donatelli's leadership, EMC has acquired and successfully integrated Data General, Softworks, CrossStor and several other strategically important additions to EMC's market-leading technology portfolio. Donatelli holds an undergraduate degree from Boston College and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Chicago."

In 2001 he was appointed as SVP in charge of corporate marketing. February 2002, saw him in the role of EVP of Platforms, and by May 2007 he had become EVP of Storage Product Operations. He became president of EMC's storage division in September, 2007.

This is a potentially superb recruitment by HP, but why has Donatelli, who joined EMC in the late 80's, left Tucci's top table? Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers thinks it could involve succession planning for EMC CEO Joe Tucci. Donnatelli has been identified in the past as a possible successor CEO.

The EMC statement offered no gratitude whatsoever to the departing Donatelli, merely sniffily noting his leaving to "pursue another opportunity". This suggests a degree of tension about his departure, possibly because getting such a position at HP requires a fairly long meet, greet and negotiation period, probably occurring right while Donatelli was bringing V-Max to the launch pad. This could have pissed Tucci off.

It looks as if Donatelli thought he should have the Tucci top spot after Joe goes, but Joe said no go, or even no, go. So he went, to HP. Ho, ho, ho, eat your heart out Joe... ®

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