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Dell lures away high-ranking HP server exec

Brad Anderson will become a senior vice president at Dell, HP's rival in the market for servers using x86 processors, has learned.

Dell has hired Brad Anderson, Hewlett-Packard's top executive for its ProLiant server line and until now a rival in a key market, CNET has learned.

Brad Anderson
Brad Anderson

No. 1 HP and No. 2 Dell have been jockeying for years in the market for servers using x86 processors such as Intel's Xeon and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron. It's an important market: In the first quarter, sales of x86 servers grew 9 percent, compared with 4 percent for the overall $12.3 billion server market, according to Gartner.

Dell and HP confirmed the move Thursday.

In July, Anderson will become the fourth senior vice president in Dell's Product Group Council, joining Jeff Clarke, Alex Gruzen and John Medica, spokesman Jess Blackburn said. In that council, Clarke has been in charge of enterprise products such as server and storage gear, and it's not yet clear what the new division of labor will be, Blackburn said.

At HP, the Industry Standard Server group that Anderson led will be under the interim leadership of its controller, Christine Reischl, HP spokesman Eric Krueger said. "It's tough to see him go," Krueger said, but Anderson "helped ISS to become the market leader it is today, and he leaves a healthy business."

The two companies have different approaches to x86 servers. HP sells models using both Intel and AMD processors and has numerous business partners to help sell products. Dell, in contrast, relies exclusively on Intel and sells products directly to customers. HP also has a stronger international business than Dell for x86 servers.

The shift probably doesn't portend an overhaul of Dell's server business, said Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff. "Dell has such a narrowly focused business model that it's less likely to be perturbed by any one individual than might be the case at other companies," he said. And for HP, losing a successful leader is never good, but there are plenty of other seasoned executives there, he added.

The new job will likely mean some changes for Anderson himself, though. "Past HP folk who have gone to Dell have told me that they found the monomaniacal Dell focus on costs at every level truly eye-opening--and these were people who thought they were focused on costs before," Haff said.

Dell's PowerEdge line has made steady gains in recent years over HP's competing ProLiant, which the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company acquired through its merger with Compaq Computer.

But HP has recovered some of its poise. In the first quarter, its x86 server revenue increased 18 percent to $2.1 billion, faster growth than Dell's 13 percent to $1.3 billion.

The overall x86 sever market grew 9 percent to $6 billion, Gartner said.

Anderson is not the first HP server executive Dell has hired away. Tim Golden, a marketing executive, also made the jump.