New Acadia CEO Capellas: It's More Than An Occupation

"As is probably well known about me, this is more than a just an occupation," he said in an interview at his first public appearance since taking the CEO reins last Thursday. "I am incredibly passionate. I have been doing this for years and years. I am excited to be here digging in hard and fast."

Capellas, a former Chief Information Officer considered a geek at heart, was one of a team of senior executives that looked on as EMC CEO Joe Tucci kicked off the first day of EMC World in Boston, Mass., rallying 5,750 customers and partners to take the EMC private cloud journey.

In a short interview after Tucci's keynote, Capellas, a member of Cisco's board of directors, said the cloud is "absolutely the next phase" of the IT industry evolution.

As to the message to solution provider partners evaluating the different cloud strategies, Capellas said: "Obviously on day one it is a little early. There is no question that all of the companies involved here are world class and have done a great job of working together with partners and I know this is going to continue."

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Acadia is a Cisco-EMC joint venture with investment from Intel and VMware. Acadia is chartered with helping customers reduce costs and more quickly and securely deploy new business applications with private and public cloud solutions from EMC, Cisco and other Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition members. The aim of VCE is to combine storage, server, networking, and virtualization resources into an integrated offering.

Capellas is best known to most solution providers as the former CEO of Compaq, a position he held from 1999 to 2002. As CEO of Compaq Capellas engineered the sale of Compaq to HP in a $19 billion blockbuster deal. After that he became president of HP, but left the computer giant after only several months to take on the CEO post at WorldCom.

Now Capellas finds himself in a competitive fire fight with his former employer. When asked about the key difference between the EMC Cisco private cloud and the approach from HP, Capellas said: "I'll just speak for us. These (EMC and Cisco) are obviously companies that have got tremendous track records, great management teams, great customer service and an incredible history of innovation."

"There is no question that is a broad space and we certainly are going to be open to partners," he promised. "Both companies have a great, great history of partnering."

As Acadia’s CEO, Capellas, who will report to Tucci, will play a critical role in ultimately determining whether the Cisco-EMC combination is able to engage broadly and deeply on cloud solutions with partners.

Next: The Partner Engagement Model For Acadia And VCE

The Cisco EMC VCE alliance says it has already secured six system integrators and 45 partners with some 200 additional partners in the certification phase. During his keynote, Tucci singled out a select group of key partners in each segment of the industry including servers: Dell, Cisco and systems integration partners (Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte and CSC).

Keith Norbie, vice president of sales and vendor management for Nexus Information Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn. VAR 500 power, said he views Capellas "channel opportunistic like most folks. Who isn't?"

"They'll take the direction as they see most easily leveraged first," said Norbie. "Absolutley they'll want to connect with partners."

The "strategic flaw" for the EMC-Cisco-VCE alliance is that "by nature it is very selective and exclusive," said Norbie. "The vast majority of the channel partners will not be able to participate in VCE. That is problematic."

Norbie said the first wave of EMC-Cisco-VCE investment and training is "by invitation only to, like, 10 or maybe 15 VARs worldwide."

"The rest of us in that group looking, in guess how we feel?" asked Norbie rhetorically. "We could care less if he is the new CEO or not. God bless him if it helps 10 VARs."

"The true VAR and channel players that know what they are doing could care less about all the shadow boxing going on at that level," he said. "This is a lot of like guys one upping themselves with the latest Maserati."

Norbie said cloud customers will benefit from the Acadia support model which is aimed at providing a single support structure for Cisco-EMC-VMware-Intel cloud solutions.

"The true innovations are really brought down to quick, agile, special forces players in the VAR community," said Norbie. "If cloud is the great connector for everybody in every walk of life, Acadia has to become that way as well. People have got to find ways to extend into that model if they have service-based organizations. That is the new litmus test for being a channel player."

"He (Capellas) needs to provide easy plug-ins for the rest of the partners (not currently involved in the VCE alliance) to leverage our NOCs (Network Operation Centers) and our existing EMC, VMware and Cisco offerings."