The 50 most powerful people in networking

This annual list of the 50 most powerful people in networking glorifies power in all its various forms. We honor the aggressive, the competitive, the colorful, the intelligent, the masterful and the thought-provoking. They are the people who make this industry so vibrant.

Network World list the 50 most powerful people in networking.

John Chambers CiscoIvan Seidenberg Verizon
Larry Ellison OracleJoe Tucci EMC
Bill Gates MicrosoftEdward Whitacre the new AT&T
Sam Palmisano IBM 
Steve Ballmer MicrosoftPaul Otellini Intel
Ian Foster UnivaKevin Rollins Dell
Diane Greene VMwareHector Ruiz Advanced Micro Devices
Mark Hurd HPMatthew Szulik Red Hat
Scott McNealy SunDaniel Warmenhoven Network Appliance
Charlie Giancarlo CiscoMark Spencer Digium
Scott Kriens Juniper NetworksJayshree Ullal Cisco
John McHugh HP ProCurve NetworkingGreg Raleigh Airgo Networks
Don Peterson AvayaJohn Williams Auto-ID lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Robert Carter FedExPeter Quinn Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Lt. Gen. Charles Croom Defense Information Systems AgencyFred Wettling Bechtel
Steve Elterich Fidelity Investment SystemsDavid Barnes United Parcel Service
Dianah Neff City of PhiladelphiaGordon Bither State Street
John Partridge InovantCraig Hinkley Bank of America
Marc Benioff Salesforce.comEric Schmidt Google
Alfred Chuang BEA SystemsJohn Swainson CA
Steve Mills IBMShai Agassi SAP
Eva ChenTrend MicroJohn Thompson Symantec
George Samenuk McAfeeKim Cameron Microsoft
Gil Shwed Check PointPaul Simmonds Jericho Forum
Jeffrey Citron Vonage
Gary Forsee Sprint Nextel
Kevin Martin Federal Communications Commission


John Chambers // president and CEO, Cisco

Chambers spent 2005 on the prowl for Cisco's next growth market and found video - the last quadrant in networking's so-called quadruple play of data, wireless, voice and video. Video on the corporate net is an obvious move for a router and VoIP gear maker. IP video to consumers is less obvious, but Chambers has been talking that up too. He'd like Cisco gear to be as prevalent in the next-generation digital home as it is in the enterprise wiring closet. He's also pushing Cisco into young technologies such as self-healing security and IP push-to-talk. His typical confident self, Chambers reportedly told analysts in December that Cisco will continue to grow at 10% to 15% a year (see related story).

Larry Ellison // CEO, Oracle

PeopleSoft, check. Retek, check. Siebel Systems, check. With his unwavering ability to set a long-term strategy for growth and his dogged determination to win a business battle, you get a CEO who resembles the Energizer Bunny - he keeps going and going (and growing and growing). And beyond the outright acquisitions comes the opportunity to win customers for Oracle's own products. For instance, both Retek and Siebel have been known for their strong integration with IBM's DB2. With Oracle now in charge, Ellison has two new crops of customers he can harvest. Even so, Ellison's most pressing enemy target is not IBM but SAP, Oracle's largest competitor in the enterprise application market.

Bill Gates // Chairman and chief software architect, Microsoft

Gates doesn't have to do much to capture the limelight - a testament to his industry might. Most recently, all lights shone on Gates sharing his vision of how Internet software services will revolutionize the world. With Gates hailing the software-as-a-service concept, we can expect stepped-up development activity well beyond Redmond. Software and services competitors as well as entrepreneurs will look to angle in on this Bill-blessed market.

Sam Palmisano // Chairman and CEO, IBM

Palmisano leads the world's largest network-industry company, No. 1 on the Network World 200, with 2004 revenue of $96 billion. In '05 he pushed the company toward small and midsize enterprise projects (though not by forgoing high-end implementations). With these targets in mind, he bought application service provider Corio and open source middleware maker GlueCode. Palmisano says he's focused on keeping IBM's wares from the perils of the commodity drainpipe and the revenue sinkhole caused by commoditization. He's doing so by creating a menu that stretches from free, à la carte offerings to classic supercomputers and multimillion-dollar outsourcing deals.

Joe Tucci // Chairman, president and CEO, EMC

In his five years as CEO, the straight-shooting Tucci has been recrafting EMC into one of the industry's megaplayers. In its '05 third-quarter earnings report, EMC showcased nine consecutive quarters of double-digit growth. Alongside that happy news, EMC's board handed Tucci the chairman position, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2006. Tucci envisions expanding EMC beyond enterprise storage into a systems management company, as demonstrated by his smart, hands-off approach to the ever more-successful VMware and his acquisition of network management vendor Smarts.

Ivan Seidenberg // Chairman and CEO, Verizon

In 2005, Seidenberg set himself on a big power trip - an $8.4 billion adventure that would land him atop a mountain of a communications services provider with annual revenue of more than $90 billion. As the year closed, he waited on clearance from several states so he could call MCI his own. But the true test of his power will come in '06 as he integrates the two companies. If successful, he'll launch Verizon into a secure future framed by coveted broadband, wireless, advanced IP and business services.

Edward Whitacre // Chairman and CEO, the new AT&T

Whether you think SBC /AT&T a foolish lark or a masterful move, you've got to admit the guy's got gumption. Orchestrating the $16 billion acquisition of an American icon - tarnished though it was - took guts, no matter how you look at it. Whitacre sees a big payoff in cost reductions, scale and the all-important enterprise customer base. But like Verizon's Seidenberg, the biggest test of his power will come in integration and next-generation strategizing.

> Next Power 50 section: Enterprise computing


Steve Ballmer // CEO, Microsoft

Security, development snafus with Windows Vista, the Linux threat - Ballmer had much to pour his energies into in '05. But it took Google to set Ballmer into a full roar. Call him territorial, but he just doesn't like upstart search companies encroaching on technology areas Microsoft has staked out or trying to persuade his employees to leave Redmond behind for Mountain View's greener pastures. His dander raised, Ballmer is more determined than ever to win the Web. On his watch, look for Windows developers to begin building applications that deliver software programs over the Internet and that bridge the desktop environment and the Internet.

Ian Foster // Co-founder, chief open source strategist and board member, Univa

Foster pops to mind when you think about people powering the grid movement. He has long promoted the notion of open source grid technology, a dream he turned into reality with the Globus tool kit and, in mid-2004, the formation of Univa to provide enterprise-class grid software and services. In 2005, Foster did his title proud, strategizing Univa's way into a deal that has IBM providing product development resources, technology assets and more.

Diane Greene // Co-founder and president, VMware

With the industry abuzz over virtualization, the unassuming Greene finds herself thrust into the spotlight. The VMware technology has become synonymous with server virtualization, and VMware as a company (now an independent operating unit of EMC) is a case study in business excellence. VMware is expected to clear as much as $400 million in revenue for '05, with the number of customers reaching 20,000. Look for Greene to exercise her power next year as she strives to proliferate the VMware platform and create a virtualization ecosystem (see in-depth profile).

Mark Hurd // President and CEO, HP

Not yet a year into his tenure as top honcho, Hurd has much to prove regarding his power to make HP a more competitive, smarter business. Certainly "doubling-down" in the server, storage and management software businesses, as Hurd has said he will do, is a good start to gaining power in the enterprise market. The same goes for improving customer service and getting the company's cost structure in line, two more of his top strategic initiatives.

Scott McNealy // Chairman and CEO, Sun

McNealy grabbed his share of the limelight in 2005 with the splashy StorageTek and SeeBeyond acquisitions. Noteworthy is that Sun is sitting on a whole lot of cash - $4.5 billion - and McNealy has hinted he'll continue shopping in 2006 as he attempts to grab a piece of the nascent service-oriented architecture market and the new enterprise applications it will spawn. In '05, McNealy also celebrated the 10th anniversary of Java, a not-so-subtle reminder of how long he has been pushing the industry toward a modularized, open source applications model. A buzz-generating joint marketing agreement between Google and Sun indicates that McNealy may have finally found a partner with the kind of distribution pull needed to take on his longtime operating system rival, Microsoft.

Paul Otellini // President and CEO, Intel

For Otellini, you might say power is all about wattage. That is, Otellini intends to stave off competitive thrusts and keep Intel at the forefront of the microprocessor business with a new chip-design architecture intended to deliver the best performance per watt of power consumed. Showcasing Intel's best, the new chips will be 64-bit capable and come with virtualization, LaGrande security technology and Active Management Technology. On the business side, Otellini racked up big power points when he secured a deal with Apple, which will now use Intel chips in its Macintosh computers rather than the IBM PowerPC chips to which it had been committed for 10 years running.

Kevin Rollins // President and CEO, Dell

Despite hiccups in Dell quarterly revenue in '05, Rollins remains his calm, cool and collected self. With unflagging confidence, in November he told MBA students at Peking University that he wasn't backing off his $56 billion annual revenue expectation. Also clear from other public statements is Rollins' commitment to getting Dell to the $80 billion mark, perhaps not by 2009 as he once insisted, but at some point in the foreseeable future. Success selling new high-end PCs - a strategy some equate to Toyota creating the Lexus brand - will be critical to boosting the bottom line. Less attention-grabbing, but still notable, are continued improvements in Dell's enterprise line, such as the new, dual-core PowerEdge database servers.

Hector Ruiz // Chairman, president and CEO, Advanced Micro Devices

What a year it's been for Ruiz since he made his debut on the '04 Power 50 list. His face has graced the cover of BusinessWeek as one of the best managers of the year, and Fortune magazine named him one of the most influential Latinos in business. The accolades are well deserved, as Ruiz continues finessing growth and garnering respect for this small but increasingly mighty chip maker. One testament to that: In the third quarter, AMD chalked up $1 billion in sales for the first time. As 2006 unfolds, Ruiz is sure to keep up the good fight - whether in a courtroom antitrust hearing, in AMD's R&D labs or out on the Street.

Matthew Szulik // CEO, Red Hat

Day in and day out, Szulik delivers the message that collaborative software development has power like nothing else. He's also delivered what many thought impossible - profitability in the open source world. Because of that, his power has grown immensely in 2005. Many vendor CEOs say they are forced into cuddling up to Szulik just to have a stake in the open source world. But Szulik doesn't take himself that seriously. At the Red Hat Summit he took the stage with a gospel choir. As he said in a later interview: "So to see a white guy up there with an African-American gospel choir should send a message to people about the importance of community" (see in-depth profile).

Daniel Warmenhoven // CEO and director, Network Appliance

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