New CEO: Egenera Changing Game in Linux, Virtualization

Seasoned executive with long IBM history says Egenera can propel its growth by further innovating for Linux in a virtualized world.

Despite the economic downturn, the past four years have been good to Egenera Inc. Founded in March 2000 by Vern Brownell, former chief technology officer at The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the Marlboro, Mass., company has seen business grow as its stateless blade servers—no disks, just a processor and memory—and virtualization software have gained traction, first in the financial-services arena and later in other high-end computing spaces.

Egenera in February turned to Robert Dutkowsky, ex-CEO at J.D. Edwards & Co. and former executive at IBM and EMC Corp., to continue the momentum and help guide the company through an anticipated IPO (initial public offering) later this year. Dutkowsky recently sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Jeffrey Burt to talk about his decision to come to the company.

When you were introduced as Egeneras new CEO, I heard someone ask what a hardware guy like yourself was doing at a software company.

Thats an interesting question, since I spent 20 years at IBM and four years at EMC. When I went to J.D. Edwards, everybody said, Whats a hardware guy doing going to a software company?

My view is that Im neither a hardware guy nor a software guy nor a services guy. Im more of a customer guy. What Ive learned in 25 years in this industry is that customers dont want to buy hardware nor software. They want to solve business problems, and all IT does is help enterprises solve business problems.

Its a combination of hardware components and software components that are optimized to solve peoples problems. My experience in the industry has shown me all sides of that. I was in the RS/6000 at IBM—hardware—and in EMC storage hardware, EMC software, J.D. Edwards software. Ive kind of seen the whole industry from all sides.

The critical component is that Ive never sat with the CEO of a company who said, Please sell me some hardware and software. I need more hardware and software. What they say is, I need competitive advantage, I need efficiency, I need to reduce my cost structure, I need to develop products faster, get them to market quicker. Thats what IT does for them. Thats the perspective I bring to Egenera: How are we going to take this wonderful combination of products that Egenera sells—both hardware and software—and get it into the hands of customers to realize that advantage?

Why this company? Im sure you had other options.

A couple of reasons. You know my background, the biggest company in the industry, IBM, for 20 years. When I joined EMC, its revenues were a little under $2 billion. When I left, it was $9 billion. A really fast-growing, dynamic technology company.

J.D. Edwards, when I joined it, had lost money a bunch of quarters in a row, and we turned it around and made it make money. So Ive seen this corporate job from a lot of different perspectives, and one of the things I wanted to do next was take a company that was positioned for growth and a company that I thought was a category-killer.

I wouldnt want to go work for just another company that had a product, that was in the marketplace. I wanted to go to a company that was going to redefine the market. Theres no question that Egenera is positioned as a category-killer. Theres nobody else in the market that does what Egenera does today.

Next Page: Dutkowsky suggests how customers can get more performance out of their hardware capacity.