Volume 3, Number 42 -- November 9, 2006

HP Taps Fink to Run Business Critical Systems Division

Corrected: November 16, 2006

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Server maker Hewlett-Packard has announced that one of the most senior executives to hail from the Compaq/Digital side of the HP-Compaq merger has stepped down. Rich Marcello, who has been senior vice president and general manager of HP's Business Critical Systems division for the past three and a half years, is stepping down from that post to devote his efforts to community service. He will be replaced by Martin Fink, who ran HP's NonStop fault tolerant server business as well as its company-wide Open Source and Linux Organization. Both Fink and Marcello reported to Scott Stollard, who runs the Enterprise Storage and Servers Group.

The Business Critical Systems division is the part of the merged HP that included Compaq's AlphaServers, which ran Tru64 Unix and OpenVMS. The BCS division also became the home of the discontinued HP 3000 proprietary minicomputers, the HP 9000 RISC Unix boxes, and the Integrity line of Itanium-based servers, which are mostly based on technology from HP. In the statement that HP put out about Fink's appointment, the company said that the NonStop Server division was separate from BCS; if it was, it was never presented that way in HP's financials and everyone certainly acted like the NonStop servers were part of BCS for the past five years. The NonStop machines run a fault tolerant version of Unix and an integrated clustered database created by Tandem, which was acquired by Compaq in 1996 before it acquired Digital in 1998.

In the wake of the HP-Compaq merger in 2002, HP killed off Tru64 Unix and said it would sunset the AlphaServer and HP 3000 platforms. But it said it would keep alive Tru64's clustering extensions, putting them into HP'x own HP-UX Unix, and port OpenVMS and NonStop to Itanium as it was doing with HP-UX. HP's initial plans for porting HP-UX to Itanium and getting Tru64 clustering did not pan out, and Itanium chips were late and have hurt HP's enterprise server business over the years. Eventually, HP spiked Tru64 clustering, opting for a mix of Veritas file systems and its own MC ServiceGard clustering instead. (Veritas was acquired by Symantec last year.)

Fink is taking over BCS at a relatively good time. The dual-core "Montecito" Itanium 9000 processors give HP and other Itanium server vendors a very competitive platform--one that is as good as any RISC or X64 processor on the market. Marcello has worked with Intel and thousands of ISVs to pump up the number of Itanium-based applications available, and a few months ago, the Itanium platform broke through the 10,000-application barrier across multiple operating systems. Moreover, HP-UX, OpenVMS, Windows, Linux, and the NonStop kernel have all been ported to Integrity machines, and HP is able to give customers on most of its HP, Compaq, Digital, and Tandem legacy platforms a place on the Integrity boxes.

As part of the executive changes at BCS, the Open Source and Linux Organization will be merged into BCS, and Fink will be in charge of the combined operations. And, NonStop is now officially part of the BCS division, alongside Integrity machines and the discontinued but still available aging AlphaServer, HP 3000, and HP 9000 platforms.

The BCS division is one of three divisions in HP's Enterprise Storage and Servers Group, including the Industry Standard Servers division, which sells ProLiant-branded X86 and X64 servers as well as BladeSystem blade servers, and the StorageWorks division, which sells disk and tape storage products. Enterprise Storage and Servers makes up about a fifth of HP's $90 billion in annual sales, and BCS makes up about a fifth of sales, which means that direct sales of the BCS products account for around $3.6 billion or so in sales a year. But cross-selling and up-selling of services and software as well as maintenance and other sales means that BCS is a much more important part of HP than many would fathom. HP's StorageWorks storage division has about the same sales as the BCS division, and the remaining 60 percent of the group's $18 billion in sales comes from ProLiant and BladeSystem sales.

Marcello has had a 25-year career at HP, Compaq, and Digital, and managed some very difficult product transitions and the relationship with Intel during some rocky Itanium times when the Itanium chips were late and did not perform as HP needed them to. Marcello began his career at Digital in 1981 as a manager, and in 1996, he was named to be vice president of the OpenVMS Group, which created the AlphaServer hardware and OpenVMS software for Digital's venerable minicomputer platform. After Compaq acquired Digital, Marcello was put in charge of Compaq's High Performance Systems division, which sold supercomputers based on AlphaServers as well as X86 clusters, and eventually pushed Compaq to the number one position in this market. A few years later, Marcello was named vice president and general manager of the Alpha Systems Division at Compaq and he began the company's transition to Itanium processors prior to the HP merger. In the wake of that merger, Marcello was given stewardship of the BCS division, which had many similar transitions to manage. Marcello was not specific about the community service that he wants to do, but he plans to stay on at HP until January 2007 to help with the transition.

Fink joined HP in 1995, working in the field in Canada. A decade later, he moved to HP's Fort Collins, Colorado, operations and worked on OpenView products relating to the telecommunications industry, holding a variety of development lab manager positions, including responsibility for the patching and support of HP-UX and Linux for HP's servers. Fink is on the board of the Open Source Development Lab, which is one place through which the IT vendor community contributes to key open source projects, such as Linux.

This story has changed since it was originally published. The unit that Fink has taken over is the Business Critical Systems division, not the Business Critical Servers division. Also, Fink did not report to Rich Marcello, but Scott Stollard. IT Jungle regrets the misunderstanding.

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
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