NetApp CTO Jay Kidd Plans To Retire, Says CTO Role Should Be Group Effort

Jay Kidd

NetApp CTO Jay Kidd plans to retire this summer, making his the second significant departure from NetApp in two months.

Kidd, a 10-year NetApp veteran, on Wednesday said via a blog post that he had always planned to finish his career at NetApp, and that the time is now right for him to do so.

"That time has come and I will be retiring from corporate life this summer. With my youngest off at college, I will shift my time to pursue more personal interests and delve more deeply into the areas of advising and investing," he wrote.

[Related: NetApp's Flash Storage Guru Has Moved To Pure Storage, Stoking Fears About FlashRay]

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Kidd leaves NetApp at a time of change. Brian "Beepee" Pawlowski, a 20-year NetApp veteran who was a senior vice president and technical staff member, in March left NetApp, and is now at flash storage array competitor Pure Storage.

At the same time, development of NetApp's long-awaited FlashRay all-flash storage solution had changed. Before Pawlowski's departure, leadership of the FlashRay team moved to Tom Rampone, vice president of FlashRay engineering at NetApp. The FlashRay team now reports to NetApp's Performance Products Group.

NetApp declined a request for further information, and instead referred reporters to the blog post.

While it is easy to read between the lines of Kidd's pending retirement, it is likely little more than an executive looking for a change, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime NetApp channel partner.

Kidd does a lot of work advising startups already, Woodall told CRN. "This will be an interesting activity for him going forward," he said. "He's had a great run at NetApp. I respect his decisions and wish him the best."

Pawlowski's departure, followed by Kidd's retirement, might seem significant to an outsider, Woodall said.

"I don't want to read too much into the timing," he said. "NetApp is a solid company. Traditional storage vendors like EMC and NetApp are seeing some bumpiness, thanks in part to startups, but nothing significant yet."

Kidd, in his blog post, wrote that it is hard for a single individual to handle the role of chief technology officer in a company as large as NetApp, and that such a company may need to develop a "CTO Community" that includes people from across the company, including product architects, technology researchers, technical community leaders, market and industry researchers, technical spokespeople, and others.

"We are fortunate that at NetApp we have a strong bench of technical leaders who have the breadth and depth to build on the compelling technology vision we have in place. We have strong spokespeople who will articulate our unique vision, our approach to innovation and the role NetApp will play in the rapidly changing IT market. My ideas and my voice are just a small part of the engine that drives innovation and technology leadership at NetApp," he wrote.

Woodall said he takes what Kidd wrote at face value.

"He has good people around him," he said. "It's not like a smaller company where the CTO is the primary focus when it comes to strategy. I agree there's no immediate need to backfill his position. The Advanced Technology Group has its finger on the industry. And for Kidd, spending time with startups can be rewarding."