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EMC lures HP exec to technology post

The company has hired Mark Lewis away from Hewlett-Packard to become chief technology officer and vice president of new ventures.

EMC has hired Mark Lewis away from Hewlett-Packard to become chief technology officer and vice president of new ventures, the high-end storage specialist said Thursday.

Lewis had been head of Compaq Computer's high-end storage division, then became head of worldwide storage marketing after the company's $19 billion merger with HP. He replaces Jim Rothnie, who is retiring and becoming CTO emeritus.

Lewis will have to make a dramatic mental shift in the new job. HP's top-end XP line of storage systems are based on the Lightning line of storage systems from EMC's most direct rival, HDS. But some things will remain the same: All storage companies of late have been shifting toward more sophisticated software and toward the increasing importance of connecting storage systems by sophisticated networks.

EMC, still a powerhouse of the storage industry, has been struggling with decreased profit margins and diminished technology spending. Sun Microsystems and HP have partnerships with HDS, while IBM's competing "Shark" Enterprise Storage System is gaining customers. The company reports earnings July 18, with analysts surveyed by First Call expecting a loss of 2 cents per share on revenues in the neighborhood of $1.4 million.

The company's position could improve with a five-year partnership with Accenture to form a new independent storage-consulting group that will cover any company's hardware. This Information Solutions Consulting group will likely help bolster EMC's AutoIS initiative to improve EMC management software so it can govern other companies' storage hardware, said Pacific Crest Securities analyst Brent Bracelin in a note Wednesday.

Rothnie, who had been at EMC since 1995, had led several initiatives, most recently AutoIS and the Centera system for storing digital content such as X-ray images or car designs.

Lewis, 40, will report to EMC Chief Executive Joe Tucci.