Roberson Jumps HDS Ship For HP Storage

Dave Roberson has resigned as president and CEO of HDS after a 26-year career with the company; he will start at HP as senior vice president and general manager of the company's enterprise storage business, effective May 30.

Roberson will report to Scott Stallard, senior vice president and general manager of HP Enterprise Servers and Storage. He succeeds Bob Schultz, who has continued to run HP StorageWorks after his appointment in January to senior vice president and general manager of the newly formed HP Enterprise Server and Storage Software organization.

"Thank God," said Rich Baldwin, president and CEO of Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and one of HP's biggest storage partners. "This is exactly what HP needed: a recognized leadership from the outside."

Baldwin said he has been waiting for this announcement for at least six months, ever since Schultz was taken away from his position as head of HP's storage.

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"This is fantastic news," Baldwin said. "Customers haven't been seeing this as a weakness, but we do, not knowing who to turn to at HP storage. Now we know. And he's got the experience."

Roberson will be succeeded by Minoru Kosuge as CEO of HDS, effective today. At the same time, Jack Domme has been promoted to COO of HDS. Kosuge previously was COO of HDS, while Domme was the company's former executive vice president of global solutions strategy and development.

The move surprised Dave Cerniglia, president of Consiliant Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and HDS partner.

"Oh, well," Cerniglia said. "Upper management is constantly changing, and the company is constantly evolving as they change from a technology company to one focused more on sales."

Everything at HDS for now is status quo as the company continues to ramp up its sales force, at least in California, Cerniglia said. Those sales personnel are being brought on to help with channel sales.

Actually, the change could be positive for HDS, Cerniglia said. "It's a positive for Hitachi to have a long-time executive over at HP," he said.

Echoing rumors around the storage industry, Cerniglia said the change in executives could be the sign of a possible sale of HDS by parent company Hitachi in Japan to either HP, which has a long-term OEM agreement to sell HDS arrays, or to Sun, which is a long-term reseller of HDS arrays.

"Hitachi got out of the mainframe business a long time ago, and the company is now more profitable," he said. "Look in an IBM mainframe, and you'll see a lot of Hitachi components. If HP or Sun were to pick up HDS and the bulk of the channel, Hitachi wouldn't lose much. But in the long run, you'd see more of their business coming from selling components to larger companies like HP or Sun."

HP executives declined to comment on the news, which was announced on Friday via a press release that was actually dated for Tuesday, May 29.

An HDS spokesperson sent the following statement in response to a request for more information:

"Effective immediately, Dave Roberson, president and CEO of Hitachi Data Systems, has resigned and will take on a new storage leadership position at HP. Dave Roberson had a successful and long-standing career at Hitachi dating 26 years. While we will miss Dave, we are very pleased to see Dave in his new role at HP. HP and Hitachi have been long-standing partners for many years, collaborating in areas ranging from personal computers to storage solutions. As Hitachi and HP are always looking for ways to enhance and expand the current strategic business relationship, Dave's presence at HP will most certainly enable us to further build and strengthen an already strong partnership and take it to new heights."

HP and HDS have a long-standing relationship in the storage space. HP OEMs its flagship XP family of storage arrays from HDS, including the XP24000, HP's version of the new HDS Universal Storage Platform V (USP V), which HDS introduced early last week.

"My XP business is ramping like you wouldn't believe," Baldwin said. "I closed several in the last couple of months, with more to come. That's with the XP12000. It will be better with the XP24000."