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.

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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

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

You might call Warmenhoven a quiet giant. The low-key CEO has built NetApp into a billion-dollar-plus vendor for enterprise network storage while cultivating a corporate culture of trust and integrity. In late 2004, such achievements earned Warmenhoven recognition as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the technology sector. But Warmenhoven is not averse to aggressive strategizing, either. He showed that in the April '05 decision giving IBM the OK to brand and resell NetApp gear. Though some industry watchers fear the move could negatively impact the company in the long term - creating brand confusion, for example - for now it's a smart deal that helps better position Warmenhoven to do battle against EMC.

> Next Power 50 section: Net Infrastructure

NET INFRASTRUCTURE

Charlie Giancarlo // Senior vice president and chief development officer, Cisco

This longtime Cisco star shot up even further in 2005 with yet another title added to his business card. He became chief development officer, taking over the top engineering role when Mario Mazzola retired in mid-summer. Giancarlo now oversees some 14,000 engineers, whom he'll no doubt charge with finding a product mix to make good on CEO John Chambers' promises of double-digit growth, particularly in video. Elsewhere, Giancarlo has been talking up the network's role in security and promising to deliver on another of Cisco's latest thrusts, the real-time, application-aware network.

Scott Kriens // CEO, Juniper Networks

During an October conference call, Kriens made light of the fact that enterprise product sales were up 17% quarter over quarter. "For a company looking to get into the enterprise, three-quarters of a billion dollars in business is not bad," he quipped. In all seriousness, Kriens has earned bragging rights this year for increasing enterprise sales of security and application-acceleration gear.

John McHugh // Vice president and general manager, HP ProCurve Networking

In '05, McHugh was everywhere, his presence requested at a variety of industry conferences. In mid-December, for example, he participated in an Interop Town Hall panel addressing the most important technologies for 2006. The desire for his insights is well warranted. He has led ProCurve into the No. 2 position in the Ethernet switch market, based on worldwide port shipments, according to Dell'Oro Group. McHugh wins kudos for his well-rounded enterprise strategy, which encompasses convergence, wireless LANs, WAN access and more.

Don Peterson // Chairman and CEO, Avaya

Thanks to Peterson's laser-like focus on Avaya's market niche - enterprise convergence gear - the company leads the market in various forms of IP telephony, according to multiple market research firms. With the recent acquisition of Nimcat Networks, a maker of peer-to-peer IP communications software, Peterson also has validated serverless VoIP. Peterson plans to integrate peer-to-peer phones with Avaya's other enterprise wares and use this product to push into the small and midsize business space. Watch for Peterson to move Avaya into advanced telephony tools, such as context-aware apps, speech and wireless, all key areas for the company's 2,000 researchers.

Greg Raleigh // President and CEO, Airgo Networks

Raleigh's baby, the Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MIMO ) spec, has been called the most important wireless technology in the works. MIMO uses multiple transmitting and receiving antennas to broadcast signals faster and with more depth than traditional wireless antennas. As Raleigh awaits IEEE standardization for MIMO, he forges ahead with Airgo. Airgo also has been making waves, with wireless vendors lining up to embed the MIMO chipset in their wares.

Mark Spencer // President, Digium

At 27, Spencer has the youth and momentum to set the network industry spinning. He became famous in 2005, as the industry took notice of Asterisk, the open source PBX system he created, and of his continued pioneering work in open source telephony. Not only is Asterisk an intriguing open source option for VoIP, but as an open source hardware product it has become the proving ground for the entire open source movement. Spencer has been as admired for his marketing skill as for his technical abilities.

Jayshree Ullal // Senior vice president, Data Center, Switching and Security Technology Group, Cisco

As part of its July reorganization, Cisco top management testified to Ullal's power when it topped off her security responsibilities with storage and switching too. Ullal now oversees a business unit whose products represent almost half of the company's quarterly revenue, on average (see in-depth profile).

John Williams // Director, Auto-ID lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

When researchers at the Auto-ID lab at MIT talk about RFID technology, everyone listens. When Williams became the lab's director in April, one of his first missions was to launch an initiative to build a simulation of the EPCglobal Network. This came at the request of EPCglobal, a nonprofit clearinghouse of RFID information and standards-setting organization. Williams' project will study and model how RFID information flows within an enterprise and its supply chain. Williams also directs MIT's Intelligent Engineering Systems Lab, and is a recognized authority on large-scale simulations. Currently he's studying grid and agent technology to simulate the nation's critical information systems.

> Next Power 50 section: Enterprise network executives

ENTERPRISE NETWORK EXECUTIVES

David Barnes // Senior vice president and CIO, United Parcel Service

The CIO on Barnes' nameplate is new this year, but certainly not the business savvy and technology know-how that warrants such a title. A nearly 30-year company veteran, Barnes knows UPS' IT needs like nobody else. Now he has direct control of the company's $1 billion IT budget and the chance to set corporate strategy as a member of the UPS Management Committee. In his inaugural year as CIO, Barnes has focused on rolling out a next-generation driver terminal featuring built-in cellular, wireless LAN and Bluetooth systems.

Gordon Bither // Senior vice president, integrated network solutions, State Street

Don't denigrate managed services to Bither, an outspoken advocate of offloading routine network tasks to carriers so enterprise network architects can free their time for real business problems. Bither has handed over management of this institutional investment giant's new, state-of-the-art global WAN, an MPLS architecture, to AT&T and MCI. In his tenure, Bither and his technology team have improved service-delivery quality by 33% and increased productivity by 68%. His message for fellow network executives is that, if you can't make managed services work you're not going to remain competitive.

Robert Carter // Executive vice president and CIO, FedEx

Carter may not be as easily recognizable as the purple-and-orange FedEx corporate logo to the average American Joe. But his name and face are icons among the IT crowd. In '05, he crisscrossed the globe sharing his insight into such hot topics as business intelligence and IT transformation. Carter's words carry considerable weight, coming as they do from his experience transforming IT at the $27 billion company over the last three years. He is candid and articulate - characteristics welcomed by peers grappling with IT transformations of their own.

Lt. Gen. Charles Croom // Director, Defense Information Systems Agency

Handling IT for the president on down in the Department of Defense chain of command calls for someone marked by steadiness. Since assuming the DISA mantle in July, Croom has been that guy. He's reassessed the agency's multibillion Net-Centric Enterprise Services program, aimed at providing a secure, collaborative information-sharing environment among Defense Department constituents. In his approach to DISA projects such as this, Croom has made his stance clear: Do not reinvent the wheel for the sake of ownership; collaborate and share where possible. Powerful thoughts indeed.

Steve Elterich // President and CIO, Fidelity Investment Systems

Two billion dollars makes a whole lot of greenbacks, all at Elterich's disposal for IT spending at the largest U.S. mutual-fund provider and leading online brokerage. So what does one of the country's most senior-level enterprise technologists have on his power agenda for '06? As you might expect, better aligning IT to the business, with the twin goals of ensuring competitive advantage and enhancing customer service. Business services management, convergence, open source - these are a few of the technologies Fidelity Investments has tapped for getting there.

Craig Hinkley // Senior vice president and manager of strategy, architecture and security for enterprise access and desktop services, Bank of America

As architect of a 180,000 VoIP handset rollout - perhaps the world's largest - this native Australian is the biggest boomerang around when it comes to convergence. Although Bank of America's IP voice calls will traverse a Cisco network, Hinkley hasn't ruled out other vendors - including start-ups - for whatever down-the-road advanced functionality he deigns necessary. Apparently he believes in spreading the power (see in-depth profile).

Dianah Neff // CIO, city of Philadelphia

Neff's battle (largely against Verizon) to bring a high-speed meshed wireless network to Philadelphia was one of the industry's most fascinating dramas in 2005. In a contract eventually handed to Earthlink to build and manage this network, Neff set up a model of citywide wireless access that's similar to cities' model for cable TV(see related story ). Thanks to Neff, Internet access has become an official city utility (see related story).

John Partridge // President and CEO, Inovant, the global IT arm of Visa

Visa's technology visionary, Partridge leads an executive team of six technologists and heads a 25-person business operating committee that funds and builds all technology initiatives at Visa. He oversees decisions about VisaNet, which clears and settles transactions from $1 trillion worth of annual sales. He creates, runs and manages such services as dispute resolution tools and rewards systems for 21,000 Visa member banks. And he is the top gun for new application development. A major '05 accomplishment was the opening of a state-of-the-art data center for VisaNet. Partridge is everywhere Visa wants to be (see related story ).

Peter Quinn // CIO, commonwealth of Massachusetts

Quinn launched the commonwealth's IT strategy into the public eye this fall when he mandated that documents be stored in the XML-based Open Document Format (ODF), a decision that took on additional significance when Microsoft, which doesn't support ODF, went on the offensive. But in December, Quinn made the word processing giant bend at the knee - Microsoft announced that it would add ODF support to meet the state's mandate. In taking on Microsoft, Quinn has become a hero to open-standards advocates.

Fred Wettling // Manager of technology strategy, Bechtel

In a company of 40,000 employees, Wettling numbers among 18 Bechtel Fellows, a distinction he received last fall, when the $17 billion global contracting company honored him for his outstanding technology contributions. Lately that has meant Wettling's outspoken advocacy of the oft-maligned IPv6. Believing the next-generation protocol is a business imperative for security and access, Wettling spread the word throughout Bechtel and got the executive nod to begin a three-year migration project. No doubt Wettling will share his experiences. He is chairman of the Network Applications Consortium, and holds membership on the North American IPv6 Task Force, North American IPv6 Business Council and Cisco's enterprise and federal technical advisory boards.

> Next Power 50 section: Enterprise Apps

ENTERPRISE APPS

Shai Agassi // Executive board member, SAP

Agassi ended 2005 in a new enterprise-application landscape, with PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems subsumed under his major competitor, Oracle. But Agassi was ready - he has been remaking SAP into a more nimble company for years. At SAP TechEd in September, Agassi said he believes most enterprises are already in the "post-chasm" phase of adopting the service-oriented architecture, with SAP positioned to lead the market. He predicts 30% of SAP's customer base will soon be using the NetWeaver SOA platform, his baby.

Marc Benioff // Chairman and CEO, Salesforce.com

Benioff, the outspoken leader for the application services provider model, pulled off a coup against Oracle when he brought PeopleSoft's ex-CEO, Craig Conway, to the Salesforce.com board in October. Not that Benioff needs a lot of help. Salesforce.com is expected to report over $300 million in revenue for fiscal 2006, which ends in January, up from $176 million in fiscal 2005. Net income also doubled in fiscal 2006, to $7.3 million. Benioff reportedly eagerly awaits the Oracle/Siebel deal, ready to snag disenchanted Siebel customers. Benioff's industry stature continues to grow. He was named one of the top 15 innovators in the last 15 years at Network World's Demo conference.

Alfred Chuang // Founder, chairman and CEO, BEA Systems

Chuang has had a bustling year, continuing to stockpile his company's offerings in the application-services infrastructure market. Perhaps his biggest move was the summer acquisition of portal competitor Plumtree. Others were a telco-industry convergence platform, a next-generation JavaBeans presence engine and RFID middleware technology. Besides shopping for new technology, Chuang also proselytized BEA's next-generation brand, AquaLogic, which does what he calls SOA life-cycle management.

Steve Mills // Senior vice president and group executive, Software Group, IBM

In 2005, IBM established itself as an open source player, giving Mills the responsibility for executing its strategy and somehow do it profitably. Not to worry - under Mills' direction, IBM raked in $15.1 billion in software revenue in fiscal 2004, which made Mills' group the No. 1 software maker worldwide, IDC says. Mills plans on using a classic loss-leader strategy to convert IBM's considerable 2005 investments in open source initiatives and acquisitions - for example, its purchase of open source player GlueCode - into revenue and profit. He'll reel 'em in with the free stuff, then happily convert them to paying customers.

John Swainson // President and CEO, CA

Swainson, who learned the ropes as a 26-year IBM veteran, officially climbed into the top spot at the $35 billion software maker in February, after spending three months as CEO-elect. His appointment as CEO is a good omen for CA; his first plan of action is a complete overhaul of CA's corporate culture. Intent on fixing the company's dismal reputation for customer service, he has reorganized its executive management and changed the corporate name from the bulky Computer Associates International to the pithier CA. Swainson isn't press-shy, making himself as visible as possible while he orchestrates new product launches and woos customers.

Eric Schmidt // Chairman and CEO, Google

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