Every year, the CDN editorial staff sits down to discuss the events of the past year in the Canadian IT channel community, and to select CDN’s Top 25 Newsmakers of the year.
It’s often a heated and passionate debate, particularly when determining the top spots, but this year there was pretty clear unanimity when it came to the number one position.
In part one of our CDN Top 25 Newsmakers of 2009 slideshow series, meet our Top 5 newsmakers, and learn what put them on the map in 2009.
#1: Mike Zafirovski, Nortel Networks
Once a Canadian technology giant and pioneer, in the end all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Nortel Networks back together again. Not even Mike Zafirovski.
Zafirovski had gained a reputation as a turn-around specialist but, In the end, despite a talented and knowledgeable workforce, a world-class research team and a great portfolio of technology, the debt hole that previous bad decisions had dug for Nortel, coupled with the current economic downturn, left Zafirovski with few cards to play. And in 2009, play them he did.
Nortel’s long good-bye
After six months under creditor protection, it became apparent a restructured Nortel wouldn’t emerge on the other side. The company would be auctioned for parts, with rivals such as Avaya and LM Ericsson coming out big winners. By the end of the year, Nortel was no more.
While the process Zafirovski put in place would carry on throughout the year, he wouldn’t be around for much of it – Zafirovski announced his resignation in August.
His shadow will loom large for some time, however, as the dismantling of the company he failed to save winds down and the impacts are considered. Could the company have been turned around? Could a leaner, meaner Nortel have emerged from creditor protection to preserve the legacy of a Canadian giant?
For our top newsmaker of 2009, history’s judgment awaits.
#2: Rob Lloyd, Cisco Systems
As 2008 was about to close, Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers told Rob Lloyd, one of his most trusted lieutenants, to “take the gloves off” when it concerned HP in the market place.
How would Cisco compete with HP?
Cisco’s answer came in the form of its Unified Computing System (UCS), a next generation platform that unites computing, networking and storage access along with virtualization resources into one system for the modern data centre.
Lloyd vs. HP
What was even remarkable about UCS was that it brought together some of the top vendors in partnership with Cisco. Vendors such as Accenture, BMC Software, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, Red Hat and VMware all signed on to help boost the market adoption of UCS.
Lloyd, as the head of worldwide sales for Cisco Systems, should be credited with getting all these vendor partners on board. But the one vendor he would not get on-board would be HP, and the two integration partners would wage a fierce PR war for UCS mindshare.
The rivalry will only become more intense, but it’s clear the University of Manitoba graduate will hold his own. For the past 15 years, Lloyd has managed the majority of Cisco’s worldwide business in Canada, Europe and Japan. Combined, these regions accounted for more than half of Cisco’s total revenue.
#3: Eric Gales, Microsoft Canada
It can’t be easy to take on the role of Steve Ballmer’s opening act, but Eric Gales didn’t look nervous.
Only two months ago, as Microsoft gathered more than 600 customers and partners at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto to launch Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange 2010, Gales – as the company’s new Canadian president – was making a very high-profile and public debut of his own.
He’s the third president to take over from longtime predecessor Frank Clegg in less than five years, becoming the local public face of the company as Canada continues to deal with the economic fallout of the global recession.
He’s moving into a leadership position at a time when Microsoft is beset by increased competition from Google, still reeling from the poor reception to Vista and grappling with emerging IT delivery models such as cloud computing.
“I think what I’m bringing with me into this role is a broad range of experience, working with every size of customer,” says Gales. “In the SMB domain, which has been my role at Microsoft really for the last 10 years, I’ve had exposure from the smallest customer to the largest customer.”
Gales also notes that he has worked with nearly every kind of Microsoft channel partner, whether it’s a distributor, an ISV, a custom developer or system integrator.
“Those experiences, I think, will give me a good backdrop to develop my knowledge in discreet verticals, in the public sector, and some of (Microsoft’s) largest partners,” he said.
#4: Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy, Westcon Canada
Comstor, a division of multinational distributor Westcon Group, expanded its business into Canada this fall with the announcement that it would be Cisco Systems’ first global distribution partner.
Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy, vice-president for Canada and the North American director of SMB at Westcon, said the distributor globally launched the availability of Cisco products under the Comstor brand as a way to diversify its line-card and to more efficiently conduct cross-border transactions.
Smurthwaite-Murphy says the relationship between Westcon Canada and Cisco will bring good things to partners.
“Before we launched Cisco in Canada, a lot of our partners were already buying Cisco (products), but they had to split their business,” Smurthwaite-Murphy said. “Now that we launched this business, partners see cost savings because now they can buy most of their supplies from one supplier.”
Thanks to launching Comstor in Canada and making Cisco products available this year, Smurthwaite-Murphy says the business has been able to achieve double-digit growth, year over year.
“The growth has been tremendous,” she said. “2009 has been a very exciting year for us. This year challenged our business capabilities in a good way because we had to think outside the box and do things a little differently and be very strategic in the way we go to market. It’s been a time where we’ve learned and grown.”
#5: John Cammalleri, Sun Microsystems
In a year and an era of some major acquisitions, perhaps few compare to the breadth and the ongoing buzz around Oracle’s acquisition of technology pioneer Sun Microsystems.
Announced in April but yet to close due to still outstanding regulatory issues, the US$7.4 billion deal has largely overshadowed what has been an otherwise busy year for Sun, with several key technology announcements and important moves to revise and refresh the company’s channel partner program.
As vice-president of channels and alliances with Sun Canada, John Cammalleri has had the challenging task of trying to keep onboard a channel base with questions about what the pending acquisition will mean for them and their businesses, and likely desirous of more information than he’s able to give them at this moment.
Busy while waiting for Oracle
While the year has largely been overshadowed by Oracle, Sun has still been active on the technology innovation front.
Cammalleri points to the 7000 Unified Storage System and its ability to mix protocols and share storage in new ways. He’s also proud of Sun’s High Performance Computing (HPC) technologies.
Early in the year, the vendor made adjustments to incentives around net new customers that should allow partners to reap strong margins. Rewarding partners with higher margins, greater revenues and shortening the sales cycle was the goal. Sun has also brought deal registration to Canada.
“The majority of our business in Canada is now done through the channel,” said Cammalleri.
Meet all the newsmakers
Watch for the next two editions of our CDN Top 25 Newsmakers slideshow series to meet the rest of our top channel newsmakers for 2009.
And for the latest channel news, visit channeldailynews.com.