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My thoughts on Dave Donatelli coming to HP

By Calvin Zito

As I was about to log off last night, I saw a message on Twitter from Steve Duplessie (founder of the Enterprise Strategy Group) that caught my attention.  He said that Dave Donatelli from EMC's Storage Division was coming to HP.  All I could say was "Wow". Within the next hour, EMC put a press release out saying that Dave left EMC and then HP announced that Dave was coming to HP to manage our Enterprise Storage and Server (ESS) business as Scott Stallard is retiring.  It's in ESS where HP's server and storage divisions fit as well as some storage/server software (e.g. virtualization and management) and now HP ProCurve too.   So I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on this (and note these are my thoughts and not the opinions of HP):

I think this is a great move for HP and for HP storage.  I love the idea of having leadership in ESS that have a deep background in the storage industry.  Now don't misunderstand what I mean here - our ESS management team gets the importance of storage to our business and to our customers.  The focus of ESS has been to bring together this powerful combination of products into a system - our Adaptive Infrastructure portfolio.  And they "get it" now more than ever as storage is a growing market opportunty.  But none of our ESS management cut their teeth in storage.  Having a long time veteran of the storage industry is just a total win for HP.  Of course, Dave Roberson joined HP a couple of years ago to run StorageWorks with a deep storage industry background too but having Dave Donatelli running ESS where it all comes together just makes me giddy. 

I have no idea why Dave is leaving EMC.  I am surprised to see an executive from EMC coming to HP - not because HP isn't a great company because it is.  I've been in HP Storage since 1990 and can't ever remember an EMC exec leaving for a competitor (and yes I know there are many ex EMCers who have come to HP - I'm talking executive management).  There have been a few executives in HP StorageWorks that have gone to EMC - some very notable names that I don't hear much about any more.  

I have high expectations with Dave joining HP.  There's been a great transformation of HP StorageWorks over the last several years.  We had been losing market share for a few years and with the latest IDC quarterly numbers, we've started to grow faster than the market.  Having another storage industry veteran on the team will certainly have a postive impact and will help HP StorageWorks to accelerate our growth.

Steve Duplessie posted a blog with some of his thoughts on the news.  Steve talks about HP getting a star, that Dave will be missed at EMC but that it won't hurt EMC.  I agree with everything except that last bit.  How can you lose someone like Dave to a competitor and not have it hurt? 

As I'm watching Twitter comments from EMC employees, they clearly have a lot of respect for Dave and they wish the best for him at HP.  I sure that at some time in the future I'll read about how they wish he had never come to HP. 

Lastly, I don't know Scott Stallard personally but I have talked to him briefly at various events in the past.  He has had an unbelievable career at HP - I wish him all the best as he retires.

Labels: EMC| storage
Anonymous | ‎04-30-2009 10:30 AM

Hey Calvin - I agree, this is huge for HP. Will it hurt EMC? In the sense that it helps HP, yes. But I think it could actually help EMC in the same way that Ruettgers took EMC to heights higher than Egan and Tucci higher than Ruettgers. As de Gaulle said "The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men."

But I think there is a bigger story here. This is a chess game and HP just moved a pawn on the board. What can the Rook now see that was not visible previously?

Feeling like Jack Handy...Dave from Wikibon

Anonymous | ‎04-30-2009 10:40 AM


I was going to ask you how HP managed to steal away Dave.  Perhaps he has aspirations of running his own storage show from the top down.  One must wonder how he'll transition from EMC's formidable marketing machine to HP's. Only time will tell.

One thing is certain.  There is something very wrong with the fact that you first heard this from a source external to HP. Don't you agree?  I know you do.

Kind regards,


Anonymous | ‎04-30-2009 02:36 PM

Hi Dave,

I just got done reading your analysis - it is very well thought out and demonstrates your years of experience in the storage industry.  You certainly have me thinking about a few things I didn't think of at first.  Thanks for stopping by.


Anonymous | ‎04-30-2009 02:44 PM

Hey Joe,

Actually I took no offense to not hearing this news first from HP.  Obviously someone on the inside at EMC let the cat out of the bag just prior to this all going public.  I'm sure HP would have preferred to have announced this first.  I was probably the first HP employee who wasn't in the know to see this.  

I have no insight into why Dave is coming to HP but if I try to put myself in his shoes (which I won't for a second pretend I can), running HP's storage, server, and networking business, which is a $20B/year business seems like a nice next step from where he's coming. It also gives him the opportunity to run a systems business versus just the array business he had at EMC

Hope to see you some time soon!


Anonymous | ‎04-30-2009 10:06 PM

Indeed a smart move, aside from the non competition agreement in his contract with EMC.  Hopefully it's worth the trouble - it seems inevitable that this won't exactly be a clean break.  

Anonymous | ‎05-01-2009 08:58 AM

I worked for Dave a couple times at EMC and he is probably the smartest guy I every worked with.  It will be worth the trouble.  

Anonymous | ‎05-01-2009 01:24 PM

Hi Jane - thanks for your comment.  I of course agree with you that its a smart move, especially with the growing importance of storage into today's infrastructure.

Anonymous | ‎05-01-2009 01:25 PM

Hi Tom,

It's nice to hear from someone with personal experience.  All the best!


Anonymous | ‎05-01-2009 05:17 PM

Dave's background with EMC can only add to our cause. But, the cross business lines between storage, servers and networking are merging. With Matrix, we're starting to sell adaptive infrastructure as a bundle. Whether that's a response to Cisco's UCS or our own initiative is not important. The key thing is we're doing it and HP's strength hasd always been our breadth of offering - so we will lead here.

Dave's inheriting a strong business and with purchases like Polyserve and Lefthand in our storage portfolio and cash in the bank, I am sure we'll see growth through acquisition of competitors and through new business wins.

Now that Procurve is part of ESS, I think we can expect some purchases to ensure we can compete and overtake Cisco's threat around UCS and IBM's recent moves with Broacde.

We may even see a move for Broacde/Foundry and/or Juniper...

Exciting times!

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25+ years experience around HP Storage. The go-to guy for news and views on all things storage..

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