By Don Dugdale
When Michael Ruettgers, president and CEO of EMC Corp., takes the keynoter's podium to address UniForum '97 conferees on Wednesday March 12, there's no doubt about what his focus will be: the importance of data storage solutions to open systems. And Ruettgers is not shy about claiming the credit for getting EMC started in the open systems marketplace, where much of its late success has come.
"I saw that the growth of the open systems storage market was eventually going to become a larger market potential than the mainframe market," Ruettgers says. "Even though we've only been in the open systems market for two years, we are now the leading provider of storage to the Unix marketplace." He might have added that EMC also leads in the mainframe storage market, having overtaken IBM in 1995.
"Storage decisions are becoming just as important as the choice of database and application software, and frankly, it's starting to rank ahead of the choice of what server you're going to use."
Today, storage is more than a peripheral-it's integral to system architecture, Ruettgers declares. "Storage decisions are becoming just as important as the choice of database and application software, and frankly, it's starting to rank ahead of the choice of what server you're going to use," he says. "I'm going to talk about that changing phenomenon."
Hopkinton, MA, where EMC has its headquarters, used to be best known for hosting the start of the annual Boston Marathon. Now Ruettgers, an avid runner, has put EMC in the running for the town's claim to fame. The company started in 1979 by building add-on memory boards. After moving into storage upgrades and disk controllers in the mid-1980s, EMC in 1990 introduced its Symmetrix 4200 Integrated Chached Disk Array (ICDA), a RAID mainframe storage system that replaces traditional 14-inch disk packs with the mainframe industry's first 5.25-inch disks. Performance was enhanced by integrated cache and controller cards.
In late 1994, EMC unveiled its Symmetrix disk arrays for open systems and company sales soared with it. EMC's total annual revenues increased from $1.4 billion in 1994 to $2.3 billion in 1996.
Ruettgers, who was hired by EMC in 1988 as executive vice president of operations and customer service, places a firm emphasis on listening to customers' needs and pinpoints that customer feedback as his primary clue that the company should move to open systems. "I spend a lot of time talking to customers," he says. "It was clear as I talked to them that more computing power was beginning to move to the open systems side and outside of the data center. Those discussions took place about three or four years ago. Today, there is still more computing power going into the open systems side. But customers are telling me that they want to consolidate their information and don't want the information spread all over the place."
What has changed since EMC's entry into the market is that now storage is compatible across server platforms, Ruettgers points out. "Up to now, there wasn't a storage provider that would give you a storage device that could be hooked to any one of these Unix server platforms. In the past, if you bought a server from Brand X, you had to buy the storage from Brand X."
Beginning in 1968, Ruettgers spent 13 years at Raytheon Co., where he worked on the Patriot missile program. In 1981 he joined Boston-based Keane Inc., a software development company, where he was senior vice president. In 1986 Ruettgers became chief operating officer of Technology Financial Services, where he advised companies such as IBM, AT&T and the regional Bell operating companies. Ruettgers holds a B.S. from Idaho State University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
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