HP Storage Exec Chris Riley Returns To EMC

CRN has learned that Chris Riley, a well-respected channel-friendly executive in Hewlett-Packard's storage team, has left HP for archrival EMC.

Riley, who until a few weeks ago served as vice president and general manager for HP's Americas storage business, has quietly moved to EMC, according to several channel sources.

Channel sources said Riley's role is being filled, at least on in interim basis, by Andrew Manners, who according to his LinkedIn profile is vice president for the HP Storage Division AMS.

[Related: Sources: EMC Close To Naming New Americas Channel Chief]

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An HP spokesperson confirmed via email that Riley had left the company but declined to further comment on the change. As of publication time, EMC had not responded to a request for further information.

Channel sources were unable to confirm what Riley's position at EMC is.

Riley was one of the lieutenants of Dave Donatelli, who until recently served as executive vice president and general manager of HP's Enterprise Group. Donatelli is reportedly leaving HP after being sidelined last year in a big executive shakeup.

Riley is credited with increasing HP's field engagement with its channel partners.

Several HP solution providers said they are sorry to see Riley leave HP.

Dave Butler, president of Enterprise Computing Solutions, a Mission Viejo, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime HP partner, called Riley a "great guy."

"We utilized him in several opportunities," Butler said. "He was a big help to us.

Butler said it was no surprise to see Riley leave HP given the executive changes that resulted in the sidelining of Donatelli.

"When the top person goes, the team under him changes," he said. "In such a case, for someone to drop out of sight for a time is not uncommon."

Rich Baldwin, CIO and chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and longtime HP partner, said to some degree EMC probably has got a new feather in its cap with the return of Riley.

"Riley was very supportive of the channel," Baldwin said. "If a large opportunity came up, he would come in at a moment's notice to help close a deal. He has come to our sales kickoffs in the past. He didn't come this year. Now we know why."

NEXT: Channel Says EMC Right To Take Chris Riley Back

Riley's departure from HP seems to have been his choice, not HP's, Nth Generation's Baldwin said.

"Storage at HP has been doing very well, and is growing," he said. "But Chris noticed that all his friends at HP have been taken out, including [former senior vice president and general manager of the U.S. Enterprise Group] Randy Seidl, Dave Donatelli, [former senior vice president and managing director] Rich Geraffo, and [former Americas vice president of the Industry Standard Sever Business Unit] Bill Swales."

Jamie Shepard, regional vice president at Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and long-term EMC partner, said he knew Riley back in the 1980s and 1990s when Riley was a regional vice president at EMC and also worked with him when he was an executive at McData.

"Chris was always a real strong player at EMC," Shepard said. "EMC was a bit skittish when Chris moved to HP. He had made a lot of friends at EMC."

Shepard said he hopes to see Riley take a role in EMC's channels organization.

"Back in November, I told EMC they need a good sales guy in the channel as a way to revamp its channel business," he said. "Channel executives can't just be there to manage issues. I'd like to see a channel guy who comes in and knows how to sell. Chris knows what it's like to sell EMC. And he knows how to sell against EMC. He's a real asset."

EMC is currently looking for a new channel chief in the wake of the December departure of EMC's former channel chief Leonard Iventosch. However, it is still unclear whether Riley will be taking over that role.