The Top 25 Innovators Of 2017

The Innovators

In enterprise IT, the companies that embrace digital transformation are thriving in a market that is moving at an ever faster and faster clip. These companies are looking beyond the existing issues to provide customers with solutions that alleviate pain points while also providing a strategic advantage.

As part of CRN's Top 100 Executives Of 2017 list, we're highlighting the 25 Most Innovative Executives, those who recognize today's biggest business challenges and find the most creative ways to solve them.

Be sure to also visit the complete list of Top 100 Executives Of 2017.

25. David Hughes


Silver Peak

Silver Peak is a leader in developing software-defined WAN technology and Hughes has been at the forefront of many networking developments for over 20 years. Hughes served as Silver Peak's CTO before taking over as CEO.

24. Robert Hammer

Chairman, President, CEO


CommVault's longtime leader Robert Hammer continues to deliver solid growth for the data protection and information management provider, with revenue up 10 percent in fiscal year 2017 year over year. After nearly two decades of leading the company, Hammer is now looking to power organizations’ digital transformation to overcome complex data issues in order to drive value and insight out of data.

23. Sheng Liang

Founder, CEO

Rancher Labs

Sheng Liang has led Rancher Labs as the emerging vendor builds out its strategy around container management with an open source solution for managing Docker containers. Liang also oversaw Rancher Labs' launch of its channel program in October 2016, as more solution providers adopted its technology and operating system, RancherOS.

22. Stephen Lurie

VP, IoT Solutions


Since joining Zones in 2013, Lurie has played a pivotal role in building up the solution provider's expansive IoT service portfolio around smart connected buildings and smart grid solutions. Lurie has also built up Zones' IoT strategy in hiring a team with a deep understanding of connected manufacturing and critical infrastructure.

21. Mohamad Ali



Not content with being one of the most popular cloud backup services, Carbonite under Mohamad Ali is moving quickly to add data migration, availability, and hybrid protection capabilities. If there is data in any form that needs to be protected, Ali will find a way to take care of it.

20. Dick Williams



In a market rife with competition, CEO Dick Williams has kept Webroot on a path of double-digit growth, with thirteen consecutive double-digit growth quarters. Under his leadership, the company continues to expand its portfolio beyond traditional perimeter security offerings to help SMB customers protect against ransomware, phishing, and other attacks.

19. Del Misenheimer



Data center power infrastructure in a world where data centers are shrinking requires new ways of thinking, and Del Misenheimer is doing just that. Misenheimer is leading Eaton in the development of new battery types, less power-hungry power management hardware and software, and services to push customers into power efficiency by default.

18. Kevin Gilroy


Samsung Business

Channel veteran Kevin Gilroy is focused on building new mobility solutions around the giant company's smartphones and wearables for the business market. That effort includes overseeing a major evolution of the company's channel initiatives to help bring those solutions to market.

17. Jayshree Ullal


Arista Networks

Jayshree Ullal has yet to take her foot off the pedal after nearly 9 years running Arista Networks. The fast-growing data center networking vendor is winning over market share from competitors and was named a 'Leader' in Gartner's 2017 Magic Quadrant for Data Center Networking. Arista's Extensible Operating System (EOS) software is highly programmable and can be integrated with nearly all third-party cloud management and orchestration infrastructures. Ullal also helped create a strategic partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise that will boost Arista's channel presence in North America.

16. Kevin Mandia



FireEye has been on a turnaround path, led by CEO Kevin Mandia. Mandia, who became CEO last year, has pushed for the "next-generation of FireEye," with a renewed focus on partners, a roadmap for technology innovation – including MVX separation, endpoint security and its Helix security platform - and push towards profitability.

15. Paul Hooper



Paul Hooper continues to drive the innovation engine at Gigamon with the company launching its new GigaVUE-HC3 visibility platform and revamped line of SSL decryption solutions this year. Hooper led the network monitoring equipment specialist to grow at more than twice the rate of the industry last year -- capturing 36 percent of the industry's overall revenue in 2016, up six points from 2015.

14. Jeff Ready


Scale Computing

No one has done more than Jeff Ready to drive hyper-converged mid-market innovation. The Scale co-founder was a pioneer in the hyper-converged market long before it was fashionable. Under his leadership, the company continues to deliver the best no-holds-barred price-performance in mid-market hyper-convergence and virtualization via its patented HyperCore software

13. David Grimes

VP, Engineering


Navisite is on the cutting edge of cloud-enabled hosting, managed applications and services, all supported by parent company Spectrum Enterprise. That gives David Grimes both the foundation and the resources to push NaviSite's development of platforms to help customers completely rethink their approach to IT infrastructure.

12. John Donahoe


Service Now

Former eBay CEO John Donahoe took over the reins of ServiceNow in April replacing Frank Slootman. Donahoe is taking his experience running eBay, chairing the board at PayPal and 23 years at the global consulting firm Bain & Company to the software vendor, aiming to focus heavily around customer experience, automation and creating intuitive solutions to bring digital transformation to enterprises.

11. Kris Hagerman



Under Kris Hagerman's leadership, Sophos has continued to outpace security market growth, with double-digit growth across the board in 2017 and a goal to hit $1 billion in billings by 2020. Driving that growth is an expanding portfolio of partner-friendly offerings, including the launch of Intercept X and the acquisition of machine-learning startup Invincea.

10. Matt Medeiros


StorageCraft Technology

A history of data protection innovation has driven StorageCraft since its 2003 founding. That innovation accelerated since Matt Medeiros took the company reins early last year. Medeiros put a huge $187-million funding round, unusual for a mature company, to good use in organic development and acquisitions to keep the company on top.

9. Mark McLaughlin


Palo Alto Networks

Mark McLaughlin has continued to position Palo Alto Networks as a leader and innovator in network security. Over the past year, the top executive has led the expansion of the next-generation firewall platform, including the acquisition of behavioral detection startup LightCyber and the launch of the Palo Alto Networks Application Framework for third-party developers.

8. Eugene Kaspersky


Kaspersky Lab

For more than 20 years, Eugene Kaspersky has led Kaspersky Lab, one of the largest private global cybersecurity companies. With endpoint security at its core, Kaspersky has helped maintain the company's technology leadership in the security space, as well as expand it into new markets, including from SMB up to the enterprise.

7. Ed Meyercord

President, CEO

Extreme Networks

Under his leadership, Extreme Networks is making some bold acquisitions aimed at boosting the company's position in the networking industry. Extreme is slated to acquire Brocade’s data center networking business and has acquired Avaya's Networking business. Meyercord also led a major simplification and rebranding of Extreme's product lines to make life easier for partners and customers.

6. Austin McChord



Austin McChord's vision for Datto goes way beyond the disaster recovery and business continuity services the company is best known for. With the acquisition of cloud-based networking vendor Open Mesh, he is now arming partners with a new arsenal of managed networking services they can use to expand their own portfolios and open doors to new business.

5. Scott Dietzen


Pure Storage

Startups get one ticket to the fame and fortune of becoming a successful IT vendor. Scott Dietzen and all-flash developer Pure Storage are still riding that train. The company has out-innovated nearly all of its peers with its no-holds-barred approach to software development focused always on next year's storage requirements.

4. Marius Haas

President, Chief Commercial Officer

Dell EMC

Adding one plus one to equal more than two is Marius Haas' specialty. Haas draws from Dell's server, PC, and networking innovations and EMC's enterprise storage and cloud innovations to find new ways to ensure the combined Dell EMC meets the ever-changing needs of customers from small businesses to enterprises.

3. Bill McDermott



Bill McDermott has presided over the rapid expansion of SAP's product portfolio to include cloud-based offerings, such as the flagship S/4HANA line of cloud applications, which are recording quarterly revenue growth in the range of 30 percent. The goal now is to accelerate sales of cloud software – especially ERP applications – through SAP's growing stable of channel partners.

2. Ken Xie

Founder, Chairman, CEO


Ken Xie has led the vendor through multiple iterations of the network security market. Most recently, the top executive has helped position the company as a platform security vendor, filling out its portfolio with multiple acquisitions and new product rollouts, as well as driving new integrations between its technologies and those of third-party security vendors.

1. Antonio Neri


Hewlett Packard Enterprise

There's a reason why Antonio Neri was recently promoted to president of HPE: It's recognition for a job well done as the main architect of HPEss software-defined hybrid IT buildout.

Neri's off-the-charts innovation IQ has given HPE a huge competitive advantage as it has retrofitted its product portfolio to drive digital transformation for businesses of all sizes. Neri is playing the equivalent of IT chess while competitors are playing checkers. A prime example: the decision to take Nimble's breakthrough InfoSight Predictive Analytics platform and use it to transform the data center game by integrating it with HPE OneView.

"In the end, you win through innovation," says Neri. "That is what channel partners need to know and what they should expect from us."