The 50 most powerful people in networking

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Whatever you might think about Ellison, the man is never dull. His 2003 antics starred the almost-forgotten tactic of the hostile takeover. Although his unsolicited bid for PeopleSoft might not succeed, it has kept Oracle and IT infrastructure in the minds of corporate America and on the front pages of the business press.Through his business chutzpah, Ellison's power remains strong.

21. Craig Conway, president and CEO, PeopleSoft

Conway has had to play at the top of his game this year. The PeopleSoft leader scored an offensive win in June with the acquisition of rival J.D. Edwards, and since then he's managed to keep Oracle, with its hostile $7.3 billion takeover bid, at bay. His defensive tactics have included crafting a controversial plan that promises refunds of between two and five times the license fees customers pay if PeopleSoft is acquired by a company that disrupts its product plans.

22. Brian Roberts, president and CEO, Comcast

This former member of the U.S. squash team (a silver medal winner at several Maccabiah Games in Israel) now stands on the network industry podium, triumphant in the broadband market. Comcast added 1.7 million customers to its high-speed Internet offerings, finishing its 2003 fiscal year with about 5.3 million subscribers. His success is pushing RBOCs such as SBC to fight back.

23. Eric Rudder, senior vice president of servers and tools, Microsoft

Rudder continues his steady ascent at Microsoft, where today he controls the company's server business and handles its relationship with the developer community - the audience expected to take up Microsoft's .Net religion. The projects Rudder shepherds these days include Microsoft's forthcoming Longhorn client operating system; along with Yukon, the next version of SQL Server; and Whidbey, the next version of Visual Studio.

24. Greg Papadopoulos, CTO, Sun

Orion. Kevlar. Mad Hatter. As fiduciary of Sun's technology development, these are among the projects on Papadopoulos' plate. Orion, detailed early this year, is Sun's code name for its work on simplifying pricing schemes and release cycles. Kevlar is Sun's forthcoming server partitioning software for Solaris machines, and Mad Hatter is its planned Linux-based desktop package. Also on tap is a new generation of UltraSparc blade servers with multicore technology that combines multiple processing units on a single silicon wafer.

25. Scott Griffin, CIO, Boeing

Boeing's history as a user is consistently one of early adopter, teacher, shaper of technologies. Under Griffin's direction, Boeing lately has been all over identity management and collaborative computing. In addition to being a technology visionary, Griffin is popular on the speaker circuit and has an eclectic personal history, including a stint as a firefighter. He's also active in many Seattle-area charities and is an adviser to the University of Washington.

26. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, general manager, e-business on demand, IBM

When IBM in 2000 put $1 billion behind its then-fledgling Linux initiative, Wladawsky-Berger led the charge. Now the stakes are even higher: Wladawsky-Berger leads IBM's e-business on-demand initiative, a $10 billion effort formally launched 14 months ago and aimed at building greater intelligence into IBM's hardware and software resources. The 33-year IBM veteran is responsible for evangelizing technologies such as grid computing and virtualization, and championing the value of businesses that can respond with complete flexibility to changing market conditions.

27. Nora Denzel, senior vice president and general manager, Software Global Business Unit, and senior vice president, Adaptive Enterprise Program, HP

Under Denzel's watch, HP's fiscal 2003 software revenue grew 20% year over year to a new record, with OpenView up 17% and OpenCall up 36%. At the same time, Denzel has grown her software kingdom through acquisitions and has assumed formal responsibility for HP's key Adaptive Enterprise Program. (See her profile.)

28. Nicolas Carr, business writer and consultant

Carr grabbed the industry's attention with his story "IT Doesn't Matter," published in the May edition of the Harvard Business Review, arguing that IT's strategic value has diminished as its presence has grown. That story spawned myriad debates and propelled Carr to the A-list speakers' circuit. The tidal wave of publicity the article generated might not be sustainable until his book on the same subject comes out in May, but Carr certainly made his mark in IT this year.

29. Darl McBride, president and CEO, The SCO Group

McBride gets credit for the power play of the year with his legal wrangling over Linux (see "Power plays 2003" ). This 42-year-old father of seven children spent the year pursuing his claim that bits of Linux were essentially stolen from SCO, which he has headed for two years. As that battle unfolded, McBride showed just how serious he is, pulling SCO out of the Linux market altogether.

30. Richard Stiennon, vice president of research, Gartner

Stiennon rocked the security world with his June report that said intrusion-detection systems (IDS) were "a market failure." Rare is the analyst that will tell it like it is about an emerging market, one chock-full of potential new analyst-report customers. His stance powerfully influenced IDS makers - forcing them to address their failings now or risk sales. The "IDS is dead" report, as it is now widely known, was so influential that months after publication, in October, it prompted a roomful of prospective government IDS buyers to invite Stiennon to a face-off with a handful of IDS vendors.

31. Pradeep Sindhu, CTO and founder, Juniper

Sindhu handles technical architecture, design and development at Juniper, which remains a thorn in Cisco's side. He is behind the company's latest initiative, called the Infranet, which is aimed at solving performance and security problems inherent in the Internet. Juniper's Infranet calls for the development of standard network interfaces that will let customers and service providers construct an "infranet" - a public network that combines the ubiquitous connectivity of the Internet with the predictable performance and security of a private network.

32. Kevin Martin, commissioner, FCC

Martin played a pivotal role in the FCC Triennial Review decision, which addressed the topic of whether and to what extent incumbent local exchange carriers need to make elements of their networks available on an unbundled basis to new entrants. His vote helped shoot down a federal rule that would have given competitors less-favorable terms for leasing lines and switching. And, the compromise Martin architected strikes a balance between providing regulatory relief for incumbents' investments in advanced services and ensuring that local competitors will continue to have the access they need to provide services.

33. Patrick Gelsinger, senior vice president and CTO, Intel

Intel's first corporate CTO, Gelsinger coordinates the company's $4 billion research and development activities, including its Intel Labs and Intel Research efforts. The 24-year Intel veteran also is responsible for aligning the company's initiatives with industry demand - for example, by focusing microprocessor development efforts not only on clock speed but also on qualities such as temperature and power consumption to appeal to mobile device manufacturers - and making sure Intel's growing range of computing, networking and communications products are in sync with one another. So far, Gelsinger's cooperative efforts seem to be paying off: The company recently reported third-quarter revenue of $7.83 billion, 20% above last year's levels and beating analyst expectations.

34. Stratton Sclavos, chairman and CEO, VeriSign

Sclavos set off a firestorm in September when he launched VeriSign's controversial Site Finder service, which sent Web surfers who entered a nonexistent URL to Site Finder, a page that offered Web links and paid advertisements. Sclavos' decision drew a downpour of criticism and a couple of lawsuits claiming Site Finder was an abuse of VeriSign's power over the main database of .com and .net domain names. Though heavy persuasion eventually led him to shut down the service, the exercise pointed out how determined Sclavos is to cash in on VeriSign's position of power.

35. Bruce Perens, open source activist

Lots of folks these days have become SCO bashers, since that company shunned the open source community with its attempted legal coup over Linux. But Perens stands above as a highly visible open source activist, a founder of several Linux organizations and a treatise writer on open source and on the waywardness of SCO's claims. Perens even gave up copyrights on a book series he edited on Linux technologies as did the publisher, Prentiss Hall.

36. Gary Bloom, chairman, president and CEO, Veritas Software

Bloom has led Veritas through its transformation from storage back-up and recovery specialist to overall systems management provider. Two recent acquisitions - Jareva Technologies for $62 million and Precise Software Solutions for $609 million - added server provisioning and application performance management capabilities, respectively, to the Veritas portfolio. Bloom is leading Veritas to the utility computing arena, where he'll face the big thinkers at IBM and HP also looking to manage storage and software resources automatically and across heterogeneous platforms.

37. Shai Agassi, executive board member, SAP

Agassi is SAP's wunderkind, leading the business applications maker on a quest to become an infrastructure platform provider. His vehicle is NetWeaver - application server and integration middleware upon which all SAP applications eventually will run. (See his profile.)

38. Tim Donahue, president and CEO, Nextel

What immense satisfaction this former AT&T Wireless executive must feel watching all other national wireless carriers chase after Nextel in pursuit of competitive walkie-talkie cell phone service. Nextel has had a 12-year lock on push-to-talk cell phone service, a copycat version of which Verizon finally was able to launch in August. Meanwhile, AT&T is only now working on a competing version. Still, Donahue keeps working hard to stay ahead of the competition, promising satellite-based, global "direct-connect" capabilities, for example. His efforts get a river of ink in the business press, as do the record subscriber increases Nextel reports quarterly.

39. Michael Capellas, chairman and CEO, MCI

Capellas earns kudos for shepherding MCI out of its bankruptcy, and now is working frantically to rebuild customer and industry trust. He's recruited new board members with impeccable reputations, including a former U.S. attorney general, a former top member of the Department of Justice and a former head of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Plus, he's named respected ethics expert Nancy Higgins as chief ethics officer. This avid rock-and-roll lover is ready to make music at MCI.

40. Mike Bennett, senior network engineer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy

Vendors listen to Bennett, who often is among the earliest of early adopters in his efforts to keep the high-powered LAN of research facility Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory up to snuff. One of his latest interests is 10G Ethernet, including how to use the technology over copper to link switches and routers in the lab's data centers. He's keeping tabs on IEEE standards work to create a copper version of the 10G Ethernet 802.3ae standard.

41. Amnon Landan, president and CEO, Mercury Interactive

Mercury's revenue is up 36% annually since 1997, the year Landan became CEO. With $355 million in the bag for the first nine months of 2003, the company is on track to break the $500 million revenue mark. Fueling growth is Landan's strategy to broaden the company's core software testing and tuning product line, expand its products to manage applications, and better compete with management stalwarts BMC Software, Computer Associates, HP and IBM. So far, Mercury's business momentum is strong: Last month, the company topped Goldman Sach's list of software companies that are gaining share of users' IT spending dollars.

42. Peggy Weigle, CEO, Sanctum

In a world where the Internet has become critical business tool No. 1, Web application security is at the top of everyone's minds. Weigle, in her first CEO post, has created a top contender in the young-but-blossoming Web application firewall market. (See "Powerful influences.") Weigle showed her power when assembling an advisory board to guide the company in product development, signing on numerous well-known industry figures. A renaissance-type of technologist, she holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy (cum laude) from the University of Massachusetts.

43. Russ Cooper, founder and moderator of NTBugtraq mailing list; surgeon general at TruSecure

Cooper has earned widespread respect for keeping politics out of the vulnerabilities update business. (See his profile.)

44. Brad Noblet, director of computing technical services, Dartmouth College

As a network executive at a college, Noblet has to contend with students' changing computing preferences. Increasingly, that means wireless. About 90% of Dartmouth's freshmen arrived on campus this year with wireless-enabled laptops. This puts Noblet among the trailblazers rolling out large-scale wireless LANs - and dealing with the security, management, coverage and scalability issues that go along with a campus WLAN. Noblet also is responsible for Dartmouth's data, telephone and cable TV networks, central machine room operations and software development.

45. Dennis Eaton, chairman, Wi-Fi Alliance Board

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