Former Snap Boss Named Overland CEO5:14 PM EST Wed. Jan. 28, 2009
Overland Storage has appointed as its new CEO the man who helped the company move into the NAS market in 2008.
The new CEO, Eric Kelly, is a member of Overland's Board of Directors and is responsible for Overland's acquisition last year of the Snap NAS business from Adaptec. Kelly co-founded Snap, and sold it to Adaptec.
Vern LoForti, who had been serving as Overland's president and CEO, will retain his position as president.
Kelly joined Overland's board in November of 2007, and last year engineered the acquisition of the Snap Server NAS business from Adaptec.
Overland in June acquired the Snap Server business from Adaptec in a deal worth $3.6 million, with $2.1 million paid up front in cash and the remainder to be paid 12 months later.
Prior to the acquisition, Overland offered storage appliances including its Ultimas RAID arrays, REO disk-based backup arrays, NEO tape libraries and autoloaders, and data protection software. Snap brought to Overland a line of local and remote NAS appliances and disk-to-disk-to-tape products.
The $3.6 million price tag was quite a deal, considering that Adaptec paid $100 million to acquire Snap Appliance, the company's original name, four years ago this month.
Kelly, one of the founders of the original Snap Appliance company, led a group of investors, who purchased it before selling it to Adaptec. He continued to run the Snap business at Adaptec until 2004.
Overland and Snap both are channel-only vendors, and have an overlap of between 50 percent and 60 percent of their channel partners.
The appointment of Kelly as CEO of Overland is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, said Jerry Pape, principal at Excalibur, a Big Sky, Mont.-based solution provider and longtime Snap partner.
Overland acquired a great product line, and then put a smart guy in charge, Pape said.
"The helm of that company is now in the hands of someone who really understands the industry," he said. "It will be in strong and capable hands in 2009."
However, Pape said the acquisition of Snap by Adaptec was a mistake because of the culture clash between a systems vendor like Snap and a component vendor like Adaptec. Nonetheless, under Overland, Snap has the chance to grow.
"If Overland gives Snap the freedom to do what it needs to do, Snap will rise for one reason: It has developed its own [operating system] kernel," he said. "Only NetApp has that kind of maturity."
Time will tell if appointing Kelly to head Overland is the right move, said John Zammett, president of HorizonTek, a Huntington, N.Y.-based solution provider and Overland partner.
"But if he was smart enough to sell the Snap line for $100 million at one time, he's a smart businessman," Zammett said.
LoForti said Kelly was the right choice as CEO, as he was involved in a special committee working at Overland on its restructuring.
"Collectively, the Board felt that, given the restructuring and the integration of Snap, the team of Vern and Eric together was the way to go," he said.
Kelly said his appointment will not mean a lot of changes at Overland.
"I don't think I'm going to change a lot," he said. "The team has been working on new strategies such as our new move into the video surveillance space. And we're looking to partner with a wide range of software companies to broaden our business. But now we have more bandwidth to focus on our strategy."
Ravi Pendekanti, Overland's vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, said he does not expect change in the company's channel focus.
"With Eric coming in as CEO, our commitment to our partners is not changing one iota," Pendekanti said. "If anything, we will move with more tenacity to get new products to our partners quicker."
Kelly declined to discuss changes in Overland's products going forward other than to note that the company's latest version of the Snap Guardian operating system has new features to help it move more into enterprise accounts.
LoForti said the Snap Guardian OS and Overland's Reo Protection OS are both based on the Linux 2.6 Kernel. "Ravi [Pendekanti] and his team see the Snap platform as one on which we can build Overland technology," he said.
It has been a tough year for Overland. The company two weeks ago said it planned to cut its workforce by 53 employees, or about 17 percent. This would be in addition to a number of employees let go last month. It also implemented a companywide pay cut and restructured in the wake of the economic downturn.