The 50 most powerful people in networking

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When Frye joined IBM's supercomputer group in the early 1990s, the Linux operating system was barely a glint in the eye of Linus Torvalds, its creator. A decade later, Linux is now as much a part of IBM's product arsenal as the ThinkPad and the mainframe, and Frye is the Linux guy. As director of IBM's Linux Technology Center, he oversees strategy for the open source operating system Big Blue is pouring $1 billion into making one of its core technologies (see story, "IBM's open source advocate" ).

Kim Goodman

Vice president and general manager, Dell Networking

Ask analysts about the impact Dell is making in the switch market, and they"ll tell you "a respectable dent." Goodman, as head of Dell Networking, is the one swinging the hammer. She is quite successfully building up the company's switch business - driven to succeed for herself, her mentor Michael Dell and the African-American community at large (see story, "Setting Dell's network foundation" ).

Evan Kaplan

President and CEO, Aventail

Aventail, the company that Kaplan founded with CTO Chris Hopen, is turning heads with its Secure Sockets Layer-based VPN appliances. While rival Check Point Software might hold the lion's share of VPN licenses currently, the no-client technology that SSL offers is growing in appeal as companies desperately seek out low-cost ways to offer secure access to remote employees (see story, "Making way for the new VPN" ). By 2005, sales of SSL VPN products will reach $840 million, Infonetics Research predicts. With more than 400 companies counted as customers, according to the company, Kaplan's power lies in an immense opportunity.

Sanjay Kumar

Chairman and CEO, Computer Associates

Say what you want about CA, it's still a $4 billion software mammoth, with a loyal following for products such as Unicenter. With the November retirement of founder Charles Wang, Kumar has assumed the whole leadership caboodle. While he's now in the unenviable position of battling dual government investigations - one by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the other by the U.S. Department of Justice - he has successfully warded off enemies before. This year he fended off, for the second time, an ouster move by a disgruntled shareholder. And he has countered future criticism by refreshing his board with new members. A good move, from the early signs; the revitalized board recently instituted new comprehensive corporate governance procedures, to the applause of users and investors.

Mario Mazzola

Senior vice president and chief development officer, Cisco

In May, Mazzola tweaked the organizational chart that put him on top of the 11 major technology groups formed from Cisco's major 2001 reorganization (that had skyrocketed his power within and outside the company). In this latest move, he lumped all routing with access technologies into one group, and placed the switching gang in a crowd with voice and storage technology, whittling the 11 technology silos to eight. His hope is to team "experience" with "emerging" to make good on Cisco's promise to better integrate acquired technologies into shippable products. Mazzola, a native of Italy who has led Cisco's LAN switching and product engineering efforts for a decade, gets his power from a long history of making good on promises.

Bill McDermott

CEO and president, SAP America

SAP wanted a market insider with strong selling skills to invigorate sales of its CRM software to U.S. corporations, and the German software maker found that person in McDermott. This fall, McDermott abandoned CRM market leader Siebel for relative CRM underdog SAP. At Siebel, McDermott headed worldwide sales operations. At SAP, McDermott is leading all business activities in the U.S. and Canada. In years past, dozens of SAP executives took the opposite flight to join Siebel - which makes McDermott's move even sweeter for SAP, which slowly is becoming a familiar blip on Siebel's CRM radar. SAP also is hoping McDermott will bring some stability to his post, which has been a bit of a revolving door at SAP: McDermott is the fourth person to fill the U.S. CEO role in three years.

Phillip Merrick

Chairman and CEO, WebMethods

Respondents to Morgan Stanley's ongoing CIO Survey series regularly name application integration among their top three IT spending priorities. That's good news for the integration software company Merrick founded in 1996 with his wife. While WebMethods is weathering the technology slowdown better than some of its competitors are, the company could use a revenue boost. In the quarter ended Sept. 30, WebMethods managed to increase license revenue 13% over year-ago figures, but fell short of returning to profitability and posted a net loss of $4.9 million. These days Merrick is championing his company's "Enterprise Dial-tone" theme, which describes a simplified integration network that hides its underlying complexity from users - much like the phone system does for phone callers, who have learned to take a dial tone for granted. WebMethods has created a platform with a simple architecture that lets users easily plug in applications and business processes, Merrick says.

Steve Mills

Senior vice president and group executive, IBM

Having helped execute a multiyear makeover of IBM's software group, Mills today heads the $13 billion business-software division, which contributed 14% to 2001 revenue. Under his jurisdiction are the WebSphere application servers, development tools, portals and integration software; DB2 data management resources; Tivoli systems management software; and Lotus messaging and collaboration technology. Today, Mills and his team are working to capitalize on new market opportunities and development efficiencies. This fall, the software group took aim at midsize businesses with the unveiling of less-expensive, scaled-down versions of its application server, database, portal and integration software. By shifting development practices to take advantage of reusable, modular components shareable across IBM software lines, product teams can reduce the time required to develop new products by 80%, Mills says.

Sam Palmisano

President, CEO and chairman-elect, IBM

Well-groomed and widely respected, Palmisano ascended in March to the helm of IBM - a setting that's more than familiar to the company lifer who at some point during his 29-year tenure has run nearly all of Big Blue's businesses. He started his command quietly, then rocked the boat in July with news that IBM would acquire the consulting arm of auditing giant PricewaterhouseCoopers for $3.5 billion. In October, Palmisano publicly shared the full course he's charted for IBM and its customers. His vision centers around better systems integration, open standards and "on-demand" computing resources, which can be doled out as handily as electricity, so companies can become more responsive, flexible and resilient to market shifts. At the core of this new wave of e-business will be autonomic systems than can monitor, protect and heal themselves, says Palmisano, who will assume the role of IBM chairman on Jan. 1.

Greg Reyes

Chairman and CEO, Brocade Communications Systems

Can Reyes' charisma, work ethic and business acumen keep storage switch vendor Brocade on top? In recent months, Reyes has had to deal with 160 staff cuts and key executive departures - including its president, CTO, vice president of global services and vice president of marketing. Plus, the company is experiencing heavy competition from familiar rival McData and newcomer Cisco, which jumped into the Fibre Channel storage switch market with its August acquisition of Andiamo Systems. On the flip side, Reyes orchestrated Brocade's first-ever acquisition in grabbing start-up Rhapsody Networks, which makes multiprotocol switching technology, in November. And in October, Brocade countered McData's midrange move by introducing a 32-port switch for customers who need more than the entry-level eight ports but fewer than 128 ports. Still to come from Reyes and Brocade are rumored 256-port storage switches.

Linda Sanford

Senior vice president, enterprise on demand transformation, IBM

One of the highest-ranking women at IBM, Sanford joined the company in 1975 as an engineer in the typewriter division. Her first high-profile accomplishment was transforming IBM's S/390 mainframe systems from traditional monoliths to enterprise servers capable of handling modern e-business applications. Later she led IBM's up-and-coming storage-systems division and its developing Shark enterprise storage line. Sanford's new challenge is deploying utility computing internally. CEO Sam Palmisano has gone public with his vision of utility-based, on-demand computing resources. To show its commitment to that vision, IBM is adopting the model itself - and beginning with the new year, Sanford will oversee companywide adoption of on-demand initiatives.

Gil Shwed

Chairman and CEO, Check Point Software Technologies

Shwed is founder and ruler of the company that dominates the all-important security firewall and VPN markets. As such, his power has grown as the security industry has matured. Check Point owns 65% of the worldwide enterprise VPN/firewall software market, according to IDC, and Shwed is the mastermind behind its success. He holds a patent for the stateful inspection technologies on which Check Point created its firewalls. An Israeli, he has a history of leading security projects for the Israeli Defense Forces and others, and appeared on the Forbes' 2002 list of billionaires under the age of 35.

Tom Siebel

Chairman and CEO, Siebel Systems

This Montana ranch owner is all business in his office. He's demanding, competitive and operationally conservative, with a reputation for running a tight ship. Now is no time for him to loosen control. The company he built faces mounting competition from enterprise software heavyweights such as Oracle and SAP that want a piece of the CRM market Siebel pioneered. There's also Microsoft, a longtime Siebel partner, which is readying a CRM product of its own. Not to mention the string of bad publicity this fall following a Nucleus Research report that says 61% of 23 Siebel reference customers surveyed do not believe they have achieved a positive return on their CRM investment. Nonetheless, Siebel still owns the lion's share of the CRM market and continues to upgrade its suite with broader platform support and new tools for automating business processes and tackling application integration.

John Thompson

CEO, Symantec

Observers say the discipline learned in his 28 years at IBM has served him well in revitalizing Symantec, a consumer-oriented company that was foundering when he took on the CEO role in April 1999. Today, Symantec is an enterprise player - and a big one at that - and Thompson is well on his way to meeting his goal of obtaining 70% of revenue from corporate customers (see story, "Symantec's safe pair of hands" ).

Victor Tsao

President and CEO, Linksys Group

Privately held Linksys came to life in Tsao's garage - he founded the company in 1988 with his wife. From a humble start, the company today commands a dominant share of the market for wireless, broadband and network hardware for home offices and small to midsize businesses. Part of the Linksys' appeal is that the company knows its customers: Pricing, services and support are geared for small businesses and home users who don't have big budgets or the expertise to troubleshoot complex network problems. Plus Linksys offers both modular and all-in-one products - such as a router with a four-port switch and an access point - that let users get all the hardware they need in one box or buy piecemeal. Exposure also helps: Tsao has secured space for Linksys products on the shelves of major retailers including Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Office Depot, Office Max, RadioShack and Wal-Mart. All this adds up to stellar revenue growth of 981% between 1997, when Linksys took in $32 million, and 2001, when the company snared $347 million.

Joe Tucci

President and CEO, EMC

Despite financial problems, workforce reductions and loss of market share, EMC remains aggressive - it's a force not to be underestimated. For one, Tucci created a separate software division to focus on heterogeneous storage management. For the past year, Tucci has worked to grow EMC's software and services revenue to help compensate for shrinking hardware margins. The goal is to reach a healthier distribution of revenue, with 50% coming from hardware, 30% from software and 20% from services. Tucci also continues to ramp up EMC's midrange Fibre Channel storage lineup, relying on partner Dell for manufacturing. He also managed to increase EMC's R&D budget from 8% of revenue to 13%, Gartner reports.

POWER USERS

Other IT executives might be paralyzed by the poor economy and its effect on their budgets. Not these power users. They continue to improve IT operations and find new ways to help their businesses perform in an unfriendly climate. Among their ongoing IT initiatives are plans to roll out wireless devices, introduce real-time video Webcasts, tackle grid computing and invest in disaster-recovery technology.

Linda Dillman

Senior vice president and CIO, Information Systems Division, Wal-Mart Stores

When Wal-Mart makes an IT decision, its suppliers take notice, because often the effects of Wal-Mart's technology savvy will trickle down to them. The most recent example is Wal-Mart's announcement that it is rolling out a new electronic data interchange system to let its thousands of suppliers swap EDI transactions with Wal-Mart using the Internet rather than proprietary value-added networks (VAN). The person at the top of the chain is Dillman, who oversees Wal-Mart's entire IT operations. She joined Wal-Mart in 1991 and helped develop the company's legendary data warehouse and supply-chain management systems. By shifting from VANs to Internet EDI, Wal-Mart stands to save millions in VAN fees, analysts estimate.

Mark Forman

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