It's that time of year my friends--time for the annual Steve rankings of the good, bad and ugly. While these opinions are entirely my own, and have no legitimate bearing on anything, you'd be amazed at how coveted the recognition is. There was actual lobbying after last years results, none of which I can remember. The good news for all is that 2003 is over, and the recovery has begun. Some died along the way, but most made it through the tough times, and 2004 looks like it could be a banner year for us storage folks.
Biggest beer muscles of 2003: Cisco. The juggernaut dramatically overestimated its storage muscle and found itself munching a truckload of humble pie. Storage OEMs control the sale of Fibre Channel switches, and they weren't too keen on losing account control to Cisco. Don't count them out though. Cisco is too good not to figure out how to change the game.
Best new CEO inheriting a big company: Gary Bloom, Veritas. While others are merging, purging and acquiring, Veritas continues to gain customers and sell more to the customers it has.
Second place: Joe Tucci, EMC. If I had a nickel for every time somebody told me he'd be canned in a year, that he was a fall guy or that he was a Dick Egan puppet, I'd be gargling with Dom Perignon and flying around with Greg Reyes.
Best analyst relations people: Still the toughest job in the biz. In no specific order:
- Kris Newton, Network Appliance
- Ann Marie Johnson, CNT
- Emory Epperson, Softek
- Steve Bardige/Deb Thomson, EMC
- Janice, Margaret and Glenn, IBM
- Nadara Craun, HP
- Mark Lewis, EMC: An odd combo of technical and business savvy. He's a hard guy not to like, and even harder not to believe.
- Tom Mendoza, Network Appliance: How can you not like a big company president that can still remember every joke ever created and is shorter than me?
- Tom Georgens, LSI Logic: Smarter than smart, Georgens has LSI storage spun out and flying. Look for it to land a massive OEM deal soon, that when added to IBM and StorageTek puts LSI in a league of their own.
- Phil Soran, Compellent. The Xiotech founder is at it again with arguably the single most aggressive, far-reaching technology plan ever put up in the storage business.
Biggest up-and-comer: backup and recovery. You will learn new tricks, my old dog, and see real solutions in 2004 from the likes of Avamar, Data Domain, FilesX, Revivio and a slew of others.
Cool companies that at the very least will stir things up in 2004: Acopia Networks, Atempo (who has 1600 customers, did $24 million in revenue and you've never heard of them), Compellent, GoldenGate and Pillar.
Best new name: Sepaton. It's "no tapes" backwards.
Grady Little award (worst move ever) for 2003: HP. Offering early retirement with bonuses to a group of hardcore StorageWorks engineers who took the money and ran to Seagate to design potentially competitive products. Oops.
Happy new year people.