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Annual awards for the best and brightest in the storage industry

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I sat with friends and watched the Tampa Bay Bucs trounce the Raiders a while ago, and couldn't help but notice all the accolades being tossed around--more than Academy Award winners. While I'm quick to report idiocy, I don't do enough to acknowledge those in my professional life that actually do their part to make it better. What you see here are my completely subjective opinions about the people, companies and things that I think have it figured out. (No one else at Enterprise Storage Group has any idea that I'm doing this, and I can guarantee you that each of our analysts would have entirely different winners.) This isn't to say that everyone else is a useless windbag--only that these folks stand out among their peers. Better luck next year. The rankings are in no specific order--just the top five in each category.

Best CTO
If the CTO lacks vision, that's a sure sign that the company will be out of business faster than the Red Sox will fold in September. A good one can articulate a clear, sometimes controversial vision of the future--and makes a valid argument no matter how inane the debate.

  • Mark Lewis (EMC)
  • Steve Kleiman (NetApp)
  • Mike Rowan (Revivio)
  • Balint Fleischer (Sun)
  • Mike Koclanes (CreekPath)
Best small companies that have

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actually sold something
  • Connected Corp., Framingham, MA
  • Bocada, Bellevue, WA
  • Nishan Systems, San Jose, CA
  • St. Bernard, San Diego, CA
  • BakBone, San Diego, CA
Most cohesive management teams
These teams are very solid. There may be other talent around, but as far as I can tell, few individuals match the power of team, and these guys have killer teams.
  • Sandial, Portsmouth, NH
  • Network Appliance, Sunnyvale, CA
  • GlassHouse Technologies, Framingham, MA
  • iStor, Irvine, CA
  • CommVault, Oceanport, NJ
Best venture storage capitalists
  • Chris Baldwin (Charles River)
  • Ullas Naik (Globespan Capital)
  • Jo Tango (Highland)
  • Chris Schaepe (LightSpeed)
  • Monica Gullickson (Crescendo)
Smartest end-user storage pros
These are the folks that live by the sword, so to speak. They're aggressive with technology, but not with implementations. They stay on the cutting edge, but not the bleeding edge. These people/groups have plenty of scars, but have stayed above the waterline in what has to be one of the toughest jobs around--and they aren't afraid to ask questions. Well done.
  • John Blackman (Wells Fargo)
  • Alan Kadin (Merrill Lynch)
  • Steve Pomposi (Aetna)
  • Jed Summerton (Level 3)
  • Jeff Caldwell (Chicago Board of Options Exchange)
Top five new companies to watch
  • Panasas, Fremont, CA
  • Pillar Data Systems, Milpitas, CA
  • EqualLogic, Nashua, NH
  • Topio, Santa Clara, CA
  • Sandial, Portsmouth, NH
Best analyst relations by an individual or group
This category is big for me. These are the people responsible for managing people like me--i.e., try to minimize the damage I can do to their company while tactically attempting to extort value out of me. This isn't an easy job. The people/groups recognized are the crÈme de la crÈme. They don't lie to me, even if they know they have crappy stuff to tell me. I can work with honesty, even if it isn't pretty.

A good analyst relations person or team typically is a great indication of just how well a company is run. Analyst relations people manage the stupidity of the analyst community, and find the needles in the haystacks (intelligence) from that community and use it to better their own companies. Of course everyone knows how much I like red wine, but a fine Bordeaux won't make up for the fact that your product stinks worse than Nick Nolte after a bender. The winners are:

  • Kris Newton (Network Appliance)
  • Terry McClure/Steve Bardige (EMC)
  • Karen Zamel (Sun)
  • Dave Donohue (Scale Eight)
  • Pam Crain/Jill Stevenson (Veritas)
Cheer up non-winners, there's always next year. For those of you counting, it's Italian reds that I'm currently fancying...

This was first published in March 2003

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