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Unisys parts with server chief

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Unisys has parted ways with senior vice president Rich Marcello, the man who ran its Technology, Consulting, and Integration Solutions business unit.

Yesterday, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said that Marcello was no longer in his position after signing a termination agreement.

A spokesperson for Unisys refused to comment on the reason why Marcello has left the company.

In the fourth quarter ended in December, Unisys posted revenues that were down 9 per cent to $1.21bn, while the technology business at the company (meaning mainframe and x64 servers, operating systems, and related storage) rose by 18.7 per cent to $192.4m. Enterprise Server sales rose by 29 per cent to $169bn within this technology category. Those server sales, bolstered by normal seasonality, a refreshed ClearPath mainframe line, helped Unisys to swing to a $114.5m profit from a $58m loss a year ago.

So, you would think that Marcello would be getting a bonus, not the boot. But it could very well be that the upswing in ClearPath sales is masking other development or sales and marketing problems with the x64 product line. Or Marcello, who has been in the systems business for decades, may have a fundamental disagreement with Ed Coleman, the Unisys chief executive officer who was brought in from Gateway to turn the company around (and who has arguably done a pretty good job despite the tough economic circumstances), about how to move the Unisys systems business forward.

Under the agreement that Marcello inked with his former employer, he gets outplacement services through August 31 and will be paid through that term. If Marcello gets employment elsewhere, he gets the remainder of the pay owed him in a lump sum, according to the SEC documents.

Marcello joined Unisys in June 2007 and was put in charge of the Unisys Systems and Technology unit, directly under then-CEO Joe McGrath. McGrath was ousted in September 2008 and after a CEO search, on the same day the ClearPath mainframes were upgraded in October 2008, Coleman was named CEO and chairman at Unisys.

Coleman used to run Arrow Electronics' Enterprise Computing Solutions unit, one of two master server and storage distributors in the world, and he's no lightweight in the enterprise space. He also gussied up PC and server wannabe Gateway enough that Acer would buy it for $710m. His appointment at Unisys was seen as many as a precursor to an eventual sale.

Marcello is no stranger to acquisitions either. He had a long career in systems at minicomputer maker Digital Equipment, and he made the jump to Compaq when that company ate Digital in 1998. Marcello was tapped to run Hewlett-Packard's Business Critical Systems division after HP bought Compaq in 2001. Since coming on board at Unisys, Marcello shifted the company from making all of its own x64 servers to partnering with NEC to co-develop high-end boxes and then rebadged other blade and rack kit from Dell and Sun Microsystems to fill in product gaps.

Dominick Cavuoto has taken over Marcello's two positions at Unisys. He was previously president of worldwide strategic services within the TCIS unit at Unisys. Cavuoto came to Unisys from KMPG Consulting, where he ran the consultancy's $500m financial services practice. Since being at Unisys, Cavuoto has been involved in developing the company's business process outsourcing offerings and was also in charge of the financial services unit at Unisys at one time. ®

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