Bob Schultz took over as HP’s vice-president and general manager of network storage solutions in May, and since then several high-profile executives have defected to key competitor, EMC. Among those who left are head of worldwide marketing and solutions at network storage solutions, Mark Lewis, and HP’s senior vice-president of business management and operations for its enterprise systems group, Howard Elias. Schultz recently spoke with Lucas Mearian about the effect those departures have had on talent and morale at HP as well as the company’s storage road map.
You’ve had some key defections by former Compaq and HP executives to rival EMC. What effect has that had on morale at HP?
Bob Schultz (BS): In terms of talent, it’s pretty natural with a big merger that there won’t be as many top spots as there were prior to that. People decide for their career aspirations they want to leave.
Howard was out of storage in May. He was already gone from storage, so there was no impact on morale.
Since I came in, I’ve had a plan on how storage needs to be organized (within HP). We made some changes ... and part of that plan was shuffling people around to get more focus on customer segments. Prior to this, all software went on the software team, all disk drives went into online team, tape drives were in nearline.
We need to own the end-to-end solutions. We need to own the HBA, the multi-pathing software, the array. We put that all together (in one group). In the tape group, we had a backup software called DataProtector, and I said let’s move that into the tape organisation ... so they truly own nearline storage. They’re also driving ILM (Information Lifecycle Management), because ILM is really about how do I do this off of disk drives, tape or optical. So I made changes in how things were lined up. It made a lot of sense to people in the organisation.
The point is, the team I have today are senior people, experienced people. Maybe they’re not as well known in the industry because they’ve been spending a lot of time doing their jobs well.
So you’re saying your talent pool has not been hurt significantly by some of these departures?
BS: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. It’s not been hurt. I think it’s a credit to the people at HP that people come and try to hire us. I told them you’d have to be concerned if people weren’t calling you up.
Morale comes from people being engaged. Do they feel they’re involved?
BS: Do they feel they’re on a winning team, that they’re part of that winning team? They see us making some smart moves bringing some of these groups together and saying, “Look, you own this end to end.” It’s now a streamlined processes and that helped people move faster.
Have you increased incentives for executives to stay?
BS: People always go back to Mark Lewis. He was leading the Compaq storage business. It merges, and now we have a combined business. He’s now leading the combined business and he decides to leave. I think it’s nothing more to it than that. You’re always looking at ways to retain people. How they feel about the organisation. If you do it only when someone leaves then you’re not doing it right. It has to be constant: “Hey Lucas, what are your career aspirations. How’s it going?”
What will HP be focusing on the most in the next year or so?
BS: There’s the core business we’ll be focusing on — driving the core technologies as far as storage, such as disk arrays and tape systems. But if I was going to put out what’s the market taking off the ground right now, it is ILM. And how do you start to look at driving the standards, what are the applications, how do you start to look at policy managers and the automation of this?
How does Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSi) play into those plans?
BS: ISCSI (products are) coming to market toward the second half of next year. It plays into bringing SANs to the workgroup. It’s not just a technology draw, you know. Connecting Fibre Channel and SCSI together is not the hard part. It’s how do you create the management software to use that so when you put it together they’re one thing.
iSCSI also brings a different set of issues, because now you’re on a public network where Fibre Channel is clearly locked down. So security comes into play.
How do you see your relationship with Microsoft expanding in the future?
BS: NAS (network-attached storage) is a good example of where we’ve worked very closely with Microsoft.
We were No. 9 in the NAS space when we came together (around Microsoft’s storage group created 18 months ago). It’s one of the things that helped us to grow. We’re No.4 in the NAS space today and a lot of it has to do with our relationship, partnership with Microsoft.
The next conversation will be about how do we make storage management simpler in that environment.
So storage management is the next path you and Microsoft will go down?
BS: It’s an area of focus for Microsoft and for us. How do you simplify putting the SANs together and operating them. I think it’s a natural place for us to work together.