Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra Leaving For Harvard Post

OK, so the U.S. Federal Government isn't a company per se, but it was nonetheless shaken this week when its CIO Vivek Kundra, a major force behind the nation's push toward cloud computing technologies, announced he'll be leaving his post in August for a position at Harvard University.

The well-respected Kundra was a driving force behind, a General Services Administration (GSA)-managed online storefront for cloud apps, and for the establishment of cloud standards around security, interoperability and data portability.

Solution providers, no strangers to the difficulty of retaining top talent, are hoping that Kundra's ideas, and the positive momentum he was able to generate behind them, will be carried forth by his successor.

Oracle And HP Rekindle Itanium Melodrama

Remember that whole HP and Oracle spat over Itanium? Well, it just had the figurative equivalent of a data center container full of napalm dropped on it. First, HP filed a civil lawsuit against Oracle alleging that its onetime close industry partner violated its legal commitments when it dropped Itanium development in March.

Then Oracle fired back, accusing HP of trying to trick it into supporting Itanium long term knowing full well that Intel was planning to deep-six Itanium. Oracle also alleged that HP's top executive leadership was in on the scam. Oracle says the truth will come out in trial, if there is one. Well, given what's happened so far, it's hard to see one not happening.

Meanwhile, HP and Oracle's joint customers continue to shake their heads and wonder when all of this bickering is going to cease.

Cisco Security Superstar Chris Hoff Defects To Juniper

Cisco certainly doesn't need any more salt in its wounds, but this week it got some when security industry superstar Chris Hoff, director of cloud and virtualization solutions for Cisco's Security Technology Business Unit (STBU), left for a position at Juniper.

"In case you haven't heard, I've decided to leave Cisco and journey over to the 'new' hotness that is Juniper," Hoff said in a blog post confirming the move. "The reasons: C'mon, really? OK: Lots of awesome people, innovative technology AND execution, a manageable size, some very interesting new challenges and the ever-present need to change the way the world thinks about, talks about and operationalizes 'security.'"

Ouch. Not much ambiguity there. Hoff may well be frustrated with Cisco's multi-faceted struggles, and who could blame him. At this point, the Cisco-to-Juniper executive path is so heavily traveled, one could quickly get rich from erecting a toll booth on it.

Microsoft Seeks Suggestions For Ballmer's WPC Keynote

Microsoft this week invited public suggestions for topics that Steve Ballmer should discuss in his keynote at next month's Worldwide Partner Conference.

On the surface, crowdsourcing for WPC keynote fodder is a bold and ambitious idea. But while Microsoft deserves credit for extending this opportunity to partners, the gesture will only be meaningful if Ballmer tackles the tough issues that partners are certain to ask him to address. For example: Microsoft's moribund share price, getting overtaken by Apple in annual revenue, profit and market capitalization, and the pace of Windows Phone 7 sales.

Is Ballmer going to tackle these questions at WPC? Perhaps. But if he doesn't, this whole exercise is going to lose its creative luster and come off like one of those self-serving FAQs companies often publish, with questions that no one would ever ask.

AMD Snubbed By Several Top IT Executives In CEO Hunt

AMD has been looking for a new CEO for the past six months, and this week it emerged that a veritable who's who of IT industry executives have shunned AMD's advances. According to Bloomberg, AMD was spurned by Oracle Co-President Mark Hurd, EMC COO Pat Gelsinger and Carlyle Group Managing Director Greg Summe.