EMC Hires Away Mark Lewis From HP/Compaq

Mark Lewis, who recently was demoted to vice president of worldwide marketing at the new HP, now becomes EMC's new chief technology officer and executive vice president of new ventures.

The 40-year-old Lewis is expected to replace Jim Rothnie, senior vice president and chief technology officer since 2000, as he retires from his day-to-day activities but continues to hold a title of "CTO Emeritus" at the Hopkinton, Mass.-based company. Sources say Rothnie's presence at EMC headquarters has been minimal in the past few weeks and it was known he was building a house in the Carolinas in anticipation of his retirement.

Lewis, who holds a Bachelor's of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado, took on the general manager and vice president position at Compaq when his boss, Howard Elias, was promoted in January 2001. But when Compaq recently merged with Hewlett-Packard, Elias edged out Lewis for the top storage position. Instead, Lewis became vice president of worldwide marketing and solutions.

"[Lewis is a technology guy at heart," says one source close to the situation. "Why would you put him in marketing? It makes no sense. In my opinion, it was stupid on HP's part. His expertise is in engineering and strategy direction and strategy roadmaps."

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EMC and Compaq have been strong rivals in the storage market. The two battled for the number one storage market share position in the last couple of years--with Compaq winning the title in 2001, according to research firm International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.

With this hire, EMC not only gets a person who helped Compaq take a lot of business away from them but EMC inherits the man largely credited as the force behind Compaq's storage software strategy. Lewis joined Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) in 1984, where he was involved in developing the StorageWorks product line that later was inherited by Compaq when it purchased DEC in 1998.

Lewis also was responsible for helping to create Compaq's Enterprise Network Storage Architecture (ENSA), which includes the VersaStor virtualization software--expected to be a driving force for Compaq's storage management software before it was merged with Hewlett-Packard. VersaStor has been in development for about two years now. More recently, Lewis has stated that the product is in beta testing at Microsoft and was slated for release some time this year.

Sources say Lewis had an early understanding that vendors should not only focus on hardware but on software as well. He allegedly convinced Compaq CEO and chairman Michael D. Capellas to create a separate business unit called SANworks at Compaq, a unit that would put storage software under one umbrella--particularly applications for remote mirroring, logical volume management and VERSAstor. SANworks was a takeoff of DEC's StorageWorks.

"SANworks was the brainchild of Mark," one source says.

Lewis was vice president of the SANworks business unit before he was promoted to general manager of the Enterprise Storage Group in January 2001.

"We are doing phenomenally well," Lewis said, during an interview at the Compaq ENSA@WORK 2001 Storage Conference in New Orleans. "You won't see any radical change in direction from me because I, and a few others, created this strategy. We've built a strong strategy."

He apparently was unhappy when HP recently put him in a position that was removed from overseeing technology and required him to do jobs like generate leads, promotion, customer events and public relations.

"Mark is a good balance of finance, marketing and technology. He was deep into the technology," the source says. "EMC just got Compaq's entire strategy road map [for storage software. And not only has EMC won big, but Dell and Brocade have won big."

EMC and Dell are in a pact to resell EMC's midrange Clariion line. In addition, Lewis and Brocade CEO Greg Reyes reportedly have a tight friendship. That alliance could pose a threat to McData,. which along with Brocade sells Fibre Channel switches.

The source says it was between Lewis and Elias for the top HP storage job.

"If you are good at politics, you are always going to win those battles," the source says.

But Lewis also may have some political explaining to do. While competing against EMC, he was a vocal opponent of EMC's WideSky middleware--a core piece of EMC's storage management software initiative called AutoIS. Lewis, along with other Compaq executives, labeled WideSky as a proprietary scheme to handcuff the storage management software market to EMC.

In order for WideSky to be successful, it needs broad industry support from not only independent software vendors like Veritas Software, but hardware vendors like Hitachi and IBM. Lewis had called EMC's attempt at getting competing vendors to buy into WideSky "laughable."

"The thing that concern us about WideSky," Lewis said earlier this year, "is it's a piece of software in the middle that says, 'You don't talk to the array. Just talk to WideSky and we'll handle it.' [EMC is trying to put proprietary code in the middle and that never works in open environments. You have to publish your APIs. That is the only way open layers will work."