Storage provider EMC and chip maker Intel, the two leading IT companies in their respective sectors that have worked closely as partners for years, announced some key management changes Sept. 14 that analysts say will have a profound effect upon not only the companies, but also the numerous markets in which they compete.
Veteran Intel executive Patrick Gelsinger-who joined the company at age 18 in 1979-moves to EMC to become president and chief operating officer of its Information Infrastructure Products division, which amounts to the company's first-string product line.
Gelsinger, 48, will take control of that division's entire product portfolio, which includes information storage, RSA security, content management and archiving, and Ionix IT management divisions.
Gelsinger previously had been CTO of Intel. His most recent post was as senior vice president and co-general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, the company's largest business group, accounting for more than half of the company's annual revenue.
Gelsinger was the executive in charge of enterprise products that included all of Intel's client (PC), server (Xeon and Itanium), embedded, communications, visualization and storage products. His group also was responsible for the development of the quad-core Nehalem chip architecture.
EMC also announced that longtime Senior Vice President Howard Elias, 52, will become president and COO of its information infrastructure and cloud services divisions-a sector in which EMC, along with almost everybody else in the IT infrastructure business, has been putting a great deal of corporate money and muscle.
Finally, EMC announced that Chairman, CEO and President Joe Tucci-who has guided EMC through its most profitable period-has committed to staying in his job through 2012.
With their appointments, Gelsinger and Elias move into an exclusive group of five top executives at the Hopkinton, Mass.-based corporation. EMC's new top-tier leadership now includes Tucci, Vice Chairman Bill Teuber, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer David Goulden, Elias and Gelsinger.
Analysts who follow both companies were generally in accord that the Gelsinger appointment promises to be a good move for EMC.
"Wow, Pat Gelsinger's curriculum vitae reads like a Horatio Alger story from the day he joined Intel at age 18," David Hill, storage analyst with the Mesabi Group, told eWEEK. "All of us are likely to have benefited from his work at one time or another [as he was architect of the 80486].
"As much as the IT industry focuses on software, without hardware, software cannot do its magic. Gelsinger understands IT hardware [and not just chips] from the enterprise to the desktop. That is important because EMC is broadening its horizons in the same direction."
Storage analyst David Vellante of Wikibon told eWEEK that "Gelsinger's experience at Intel is significant in my view, given that EMC has just spent an enormous effort to port its Enginuity code to the Intel platform."
Enginuity is the storage file system/operating environment for the company's frontline enterprise Symmetrix DMX storage array systems-the highest-margin products EMC makes.
"Why is this important?" Vellante asked. "In my view, all new hardware innovations are going to happen around the Intel platform [at least for the next five to 10 years]. Gelsinger has intimate knowledge of the Intel ecosystem, and by using Intel as the base, it opens a whole new set of opportunities for EMC around tools, platforms, file system compatibility and other innovations that it can bring into its products. Nice move."
Enterprise Strategy Group storage analyst Brian Babineau told eWEEK that Gelsinger's move is a natural for EMC, given his expertise and knowledge of strategies of both companies.
"Over the past few years, EMC has begun extensive efforts to standardize its hardware platforms on Intel architectures," Babineau sad. "Additionally, it would be silly to ignore how much effort the core EMC information infrastructure products have spent integrating with x86 based server virtualization platforms.
"Having a leader with in-depth knowledge of processor road maps will be helpful in these two strategies going forward. However, these are likely some of the reasons why EMC made this move, as Gelsinger has some significant leadership experience running a very hefty business unit inside of Intel-and now he will have similar responsibilities at EMC."
Babineau had another take on the executive appointment news.
"The biggest part of this news is Tucci's committal for another three years," Babineau said. "Once that was in place, it was evident that he needed to expand the management team due to some key losses [David Dewalt, David Donatelli, etc.] over the past few years.
"Tucci has already prided himself on having some management bench strength, and these steps resemble moves he has made in the past, and they come at a time when it makes the most sense. The company is in the middle of a substantial integration effort with Data Domain and trying to line up much of its core product lines with VMware."
IDC storage analyst Rick Villars said he thinks Gelsinger can bring some answers to challenges that relate to the growing diversity of information sets enterprises must store and manage.
"Companies that want to play a major role in these emerging role-based storage market segments need to deliver next-generation processors as well as their own storage platforms and supporting software," Villars said.
"Mr. Gelsinger's background at Intel makes it clear that EMC recognizes the need to more quickly and effectively take advantage of emerging processor technologies."