Storage

Big Blue veteran heads to EMC

Jeffrey Nick will become EMC's chief technology officer, an addition that analysts laud as a big win for the storage company.

EMC has hired an IBM veteran to be its chief technology officer, in what appears to be the latest step in the storage hardware specialist's quest to spread its computing-industry wings.

The company said Friday that its new CTO is Jeffrey Nick, who left Big Blue in June, after 24 years there. Nick had been an IBM Fellow, a prestigious title recognized throughout the industry.

The storage company said in a statement that Nick "will assume a major role in the direction of EMC's technology strategy and in the evolution and advancement of EMC's information life cycle management capabilities, related platforms, software and services."

The term "information life cycle management" refers to efforts by Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC and other storage companies to help customers handle data in the most cost-effective manner possible from the time it is created to the time it can be disposed of or archived.

Nick holds more than 50 U.S. patents in computer systems technology, EMC said. The company also said Nick was responsible for the design and architecture of IBM's "on demand" initiative and that he led Big Blue's grid computing strategy.

IBM's on-demand effort involves setting up IT resources so that they can be expanded or reconfigured to meet peak demand. Grid computing is a technique for tying computers together to harness their collective processing power.

Hiring Nick indicates that "EMC is thinking bigger than just disk array storage," Gartner analyst Roger Cox said.

Over the past year or so, EMC has taken other steps to go beyond its legacy as a maker of storage boxes. It has bought several software companies, including Documentum, a content management specialist; Legato Systems, a maker of backup and recovery tools; and VMware, a maker of software that enables a computer to run several operating systems simultaneously. EMC also has increasingly emphasized information life cycle management, which involves using hardware, software and services to help companies transfer data to different machines or media, depending on its changing value over time.

Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at research company Illuminata, gave EMC high marks for snapping up Nick. "Jeff Nick is a rock star," Eunice said in an e-mail. "He had a lot to do with IBM's sophistication regarding grid and Web services standards."

Nick is the latest in a string of relatively new leaders at EMC who have worked for competing companies. Nick's immediate boss, Howard Elias, worked at Hewlett-Packard before coming to EMC. He now serves as executive vice president of corporate marketing and technology.

Others who moved to EMC after a period at HP are Mark Lewis, now an executive vice president and co-leader of EMC's software group, and Mark Sorenson, who heads research and development at EMC's Legato unit.

EMC has been doing quite well in the storage market of late. In the second quarter, its worldwide sales of external disk storage systems hit $719 million, up 19.5 percent from the same period a year ago, according to market research company IDC. EMC ranked first in the category, with 20.7 percent market share. In the same period a year ago, it had trailed HP. In the second quarter of 2004, HP's revenue slipped 8.3 percent year over year, to $631 million.