With Tucci's Succession In The Works, EMC Partners Want CEO With Eyes On The Future

EMC CEO Joe Tucci's delayed and unpredictable road to retirement may benefit the company by ensuring a smooth transition to a successor committed to the data storage giant's so-called "federation" strategy, said analysts and partners who spoke with CRN.

Tucci said during a conference call to discuss second-quarter earnings with investors Wednesday that EMC's board was actively engaged in CEO succession planning. Tucci, 68, at one time said he'd retire from the company he's led for nearly 15 years when his contract expired last February.

However, he's been working without a contract since then, and said earlier this year that he'd stay at the helm of the Hopkinton, Mass.-based data storage giant until the board took action to replace him.

[Related: Tucci: EMC Board 'Actively Engaged' In CEO Succession Plan]

Krista Macomber, an analyst at TBR, told CRN that Tucci's succession may have been delayed by widespread industry disruption. "It's been challenging enough for EMC to navigate the transition to IT-as-a-Service without also changing key executives," she said.

Pulling its federation companies -- EMC Information Infrastructure, RSA, VCE, Pivotal and VMware -- together in a cohesive way has been a challenge for EMC, and the effort hasn't been completely successful, Macomber said.

"Right now," Macomber said, "we see EMC's federated approach adding a lot of complexity that is difficult for customers and partners to navigate."

Tucci was a driving force behind EMC's federation structure, and having him on board now is helping bring the federation companies closer together and to operate in a more complete and unified way, Macomber said.

While Macomber said analysts may be skeptical about Tucci's succession in the short term, she doesn't expect the CEO's retirement to have an especially negative impact on the company. Other top executives like EMC Information Infrastructure chief David Goulden and Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz have extensive industry experience, deep expertise in the federation and have more responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the company than Tucci, Macomber said.

Arnold Bennett, U.S. regional sales director at Northern, a Wakefield, Mass.-based EMC partner, said Goulden, in particular, seems to understand how to manage a full suite of products within an organization.

Still, Tucci's successor, whoever it may be, has a lot of work to do to truly integrate the federation companies, and that's the main challenge for any EMC chief executive going forward, Bennett told CRN by email.

"Having one place to go to get multiple boxes doesn't really reshape a company's core competency," Bennett said. "Sure, it may reduce some operational costs being able to troubleshoot three areas of box management, but it still doesn't address how a company manages its ever-growing data."

Michael Thomaschewski, director of infrastructure at EMC partner Long View Systems of Houston, said Tucci's announcement that succession planning is under way is "very positive," and also named Goulden as a likely candidate for the CEO job, as well as VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger.

"Joe and his team have been amazing at setting EMC up for a long future with the EMC federation," Thomaschewski told CRN by email. "The only ask I would have as a partner is for EMC to pick a CEO who has a lens on the future and not the EMC of the past."


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