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HP poaches EMC's Donatelli *Updated*

You can scratch Dave Donatelli’s name off the list of possible successors to Joe Tucci at EMC.

There are no signs that Tucci’s departure as CEO is imminent, but people in the storage world occasionally play the “who’s next at EMC” guessing game and Donatelli’s name is almost always on the short list. But news came last night that Donatelli has bolted his position as president of the storage division to take as executive vice president Hewlett-Pakcard’s servers, storage and networking division.

Apparently, EMC isn’t letting Donatelli go without a fight. According to a Reuters story that moved late this afternoon, EMC has filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts seeking to enforce a non-compete clause in Donatelli’s contract and Donatelli has filed a suit in California trying to break the non-compete deal. Reuters quotes EMC spokesman Michael Gallant confirming the lawsuits.

Donatelli’s departure was abrupt. Donatelli joined Tucci on conference calls with press and analysts for the much-hyped launch of EMC’s Symmetrix V-Max system two weeks ago. (He almost certainly was deep into negotiations with HP at the time). He also has been one of EMC’s most visible execs. Another EMC veteran, Frank Hauck, has been named the interim head of EMC’s storage division.

As a 22-year veteran of the company who ran a $14.9 billion division, Donatelli will obviously be missed at EMC but the move will probably have a greater impact for HP. EMC will come up with an adequate replacement, either from its deep roster of seasoned vets or by going outside for an experienced executive. Don’t be surprised to see Hauck get the job permanently – he’s already been CIO, EVP of global marketing, and VP of products and offerings in his 18 years at EMC.

Donatelli likely found an offer from HP that he couldn’t refuse. He will report to Ann Livermore, HP’s EVP of the Technology Solutions Group and a top lieutenant to CEO Mark Hurd. Donatelli’s new division brought in $19.4 billion in revenue last year, and HP is expanding it to include ProCurve switching. Donatelli takes over as HP faces increased competition in the server business with Cisco moving in and Sun possibly getting a boost from the Oracle acquisition. It also comes as the storage and networking worlds begin to converge around Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and converged server platforms such as Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) and HP’s BladeSystem Matrix.

Donatelli obviously brings some secrets from EMC and perhaps from EMC’s close ally Cisco with him to his new post. The move should make for some interesting competition over the coming months.

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