CDN’s Top Newsmakers of 2010, Part One

Meet the top newsmakers
Meet the top newsmakers

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, and this year was no exception.

In part one of our CDN Top 25 Newsmakers of 2010 slideshow series, meet our Top 12 newsmakers, and learn what put them on our list.

by CDN Staff

Newsmaker of the Year: Cloud computing

Newsmaker of the Year: Cloud computing

One would think that for something with so much activity around it and so talked about that there would be a concrete definition of what cloud computing is. Instead, depending on who you ask, everyone seems to have their own definition of what cloud computing means.

The cloud as we know it today comes in many different flavours in the forms of software-as-a-service (SaaS), hardware-as-a-service (HaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and security-as-a-service.

One thing is for sure: the cloud was everywhere this year, making 2010 the year of the cloud and, for the first time, making a trend CDN‘s top newsmaker of the year.

Read more Newsmaker of the Year: Cloud computing

2: Eric Gales of Microsoft Canada

#2: Eric Gales of Microsoft Canada

2009’s number three newsmaker of the year, Eric Gales, inched one step closer to the top with his company’s “All-In” campaign for cloud computing. Gales, who became Microsoft Corp.’s top Canadian executive only 18 months ago, surpassed Frank Clegg in CDN‘s Newsmakers rankings. Clegg’s best showing was number three back in 2004.

In 2010 Microsoft used the poker term “all-in” for its new cloud direction, but gambling reference aside, the difference between this year’s strategy and 2009’s Software+Services venture isn’t much.

In addition to restructuring the partner program for the cloud, the biggest change came in leadership as Allison Watson’s eight-year run as channel chief ended. She transitioned to a U.S. market role in the company and was replaced by Jon Roskill.

Gales also oversaw the launch of Office 2010 in Canada, which gave solution providers a new opportunity to go back to its customers for a wider IT refresh plan. The other major announcement from Microsoft was the release of Windows Phone 7.

Read more #2 Newsmaker: Eric Gales of Microsoft Canada

3: Charles Salameh of HP Canada

#3: Charles Salameh of HP Canada

Most executives would like to have the transitional year Charles Salameh had in 2010 with HP Canada’s Personal Systems Group (PSG).

In his first full year running PSG, Salameh put in a plan and framework to position the company for success in 2011. Salameh’s task for 2010 was to rebuild the organization, develop new routes to market and create long lasting relationships with channel partners to get the business ready for 2011. But while he was working on transforming PSG, the division reported an epic year of growth.

HP Canada’s PSG division finished the year with 24 per cent growth in units and 23 per cent growth in revenue and recaptured the No. 1 marketshare position.

There was also the departure of one Canadian channel chief and the hiring of another, a new CEO when the old one left in a cloud of scandal, and the major acquisitions of 3Par and Palm. All in all, a pretty busy year.

Read more #3 Newsmaker: Charles Salameh of HP Canada

4: Ross Pellizzari of Avaya Canada

#4: Ross Pellizzari of Avaya Canada

Ross Pellizzari, managing director and president of Avaya Canada, says 2010 was a year of “success” for him and the company.

Pellizzari joined Avaya and stepped into his current role in May. Prior to this, Pellizzari was with IT solutions and services outsourcing provider Mastek Canada, where he was the general manager of Canadian operations and senior vice-president on the North American leadership team. Before Mastek, Pellizzari served as the vice-president of channel operations for Cisco Systems.

“2010 was about Avaya as a company going from public to private and getting in shape to take on new collaboration and a world of intelligent communications,” he said. “In the first quarter, we’re well on our way to growing from a revenue perspective and as a company because we’re growing more in our customers and partners’ minds.”

With the US$915 million acquisition of Nortel Networks’ enterprise solutions business, Avaya continued with the integration of the Nortel portfolio into its business in 2010.

The company announced its integration plans which included legacy Avaya and Nortel PBXs being able to interoperate with SIP-based VoIP gear thanks to Aura, Avaya’s extensible IP communications platform and also Nortel’s contact centre software would be further developed to incorporate all of the architectural features Avaya envisions for contact centres.

Read more: #4 Newsmaker: Ross Pellizzari of Avaya Canada

5: Ross Allen of McAfee Canada

#5: Ross Allen of McAfee Canada

For several years, Ross Allen has been quietly but steadily growing McAfee Inc.’s sales and channel presence in Canada as the Canadian general manager. In 2010 though, the security vendor burst onto the front pages with the announcement in August that chipmaker Intel Corp. was acquiring McAfee for US$7.7 billion.

It was a deal that certainly no one saw coming, and one that it took many customers and partners some time to wrap their minds around.

Intel said the acquisition reflects that security is now a fundamental component of online computing. Intel wants to bring computing security down to the chipset level, calling it “hardware-enhanced security,” and Intel will make security a strategic priority for the company alongside performance and energy-efficiency. Once the deal closes in the first quarter of 2011, Intel indicates McAfee will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel, reporting into Intel’s Software and Services Group.

Read more: #5 Newsmaker: Ross Allen of McAfee

6: Judson Althoff of Oracle

#6: Judson Althoff of Oracle

Long-known as a direct first company, and stubbornly so, enterprise software vendor Oracle Corp. made some tentative steps to embrace the channel in 2010: but it will clearly be on Oracle’s own terms.

Leading Oracle’s channel outreach is channel chief Judson Althoff, and his task became more important (and more daunting) with Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems, with its large channel program.

While the Sun acquisition happened in 2009, it was early in 2010 that Althoff began to roll-out its new channel philosophy and give Sun partners a sense of their expected role with Oracle.

Essentially, if a partner specializes, defines their value-proposition and adds value, there’s a place for them with Oracle.

Read more: #6 Newsmaker: Judson Althoff of Oracle

7: Donna Wittmann of Cisco Canada

#7: Donna Wittmann of Cisco Canada

Donna Wittmann has had a busy year at Cisco Canada with several introductions of new partner resources and programs throughout the year.

Perhaps the most shocking news this year was Cisco’s decision to end its system integrator contract and long-time partnership with HP at the end of April because of differing visions of how the companies were to deliver value in the data centre.

Also this year, the company expanded its Borderless Networks architecture with the introduction of new routers and switches to make it easier for people in business environments to communicate anytime, anywhere, using any device through a seamless and secure environment.

Cisco also evolved its go-to-market strategy from a technology to architecture-focus to encourage more partner specialization.

Read more: #7 Newsmaker: Donna Wittmann of Cisco Canada

8: Mark Ciprietti of D-Link Canada

#8: Mark Ciprietti of D-Link Canada

When he took over D-Link Canada, Nick Tidd set out to reintroduce the networking equipment vendor to the Canadian market and reinvent the company’s culture to make it a channel-first company. With Tidd rewarded for his efforts early in 2010 with a promotion to president of D-Link North America, Tidd passed the reigns in Canada to former Insight Canada vice-president Mark Ciprietti.

As D-Link Canada’s new vice-president and general manager of business solutions sales, Ciprietti set out to fill the market void left with Nortel’s departure from the marketplace, Avaya’s evolving focus, the HP/3Com acquisition still shaking-out and Cisco Systems’ pricing.

Seeking to shed its image as just the $99 router company, D-Link was front and centre at Interop this year to announce a new portfolio of enterprise-class products, along with a new partner program that will better support the channel as it takes the new offerings up-market.

Read more: #8 Newsmaker: Mark Ciprietti of D-Link Canada

9: Craig West of NetSuite

#9: Craig West of NetSuite

If there was any channel chief more boisterous in 2010 than NetSuite’s Craig West, then we haven’t met him or her yet.

NetSuite has always been an aggressive company. They pride themselves on taking the initiative, but in 2010 West turned up the heat on competitors by offering an unprecedented 100 per cent margins. Many in the channel thought NetSuite was off the wall with its SP100 program.

It was an unprecedented move by NetSuite to offer 100 per cent margin off of first year licenses subscriptions on new customer contracts. Channel partners had to sign customers to a minimum 24 month commitment. This offer does expire in 12 months.

“We feel strongly that 2010 is the year where on-premise VARs from Microsoft and Sage and the like stop waiting for Microsoft and Sage cloud solutions. They are tired of losing deals to cloud solutions,” West said.

Read more: #9 Newsmaker: Craig West of NetSuite

10: Peter Diniz of Avnet/Bell Micro

#10: Peter Diniz of Avnet/Bell Micro

Out-going vice-president and general manager of Bell Micro, Peter Diniz, a long time channel leader in Canada, has not made too many Top 25 Newsmaker lists.

He did make the very first one in 2001. In his decade-long stewardship at Bell Micro, he spearheaded the move to make the high-end storage distributor nationwide by opening offices across the country; Diniz was also one of the first to bring Linux-based servers to Canadian resellers; he also helped to craft a channel program targeted at the hot trend of Storage Area Networking, which was unheard of at the time for a distributor.

But in early 2010, Diniz’s career was put in flux when Avnet acquired Bell Microproducts for a transaction value of US$631 million (assuming net debt position).

Read more: #10 Peter Diniz of Avnet/Bell Micro

11: Barry Morrison of Hitachi Data Systems Canada

#11: Barry Morrison of Hitachi Data Systems Canada

Actor/director Woody Allen coined the phrase: “80 per cent of success is showing up.” But if that was really the case, Hitachi Data Systems Canada would have had success throughout the decade.

But it took a former Digital Equipment Canada executive, Barry Morrison, a change in philosophy and a lot of hard work from him and his team to turn HDS Canada around. Morrison helped to transition a technically-based company into a sales organization with a 100 per cent channel-friendly strategy. He also repaired HDS’ fragmented business model and made it into a standalone unit.

Morrison also instilled a positive attitude at HDS Canada. With that type of outlook, the company’s sales doubled in his first year there and last year, it grew again just short of 40 per cent.

Read more: #11: Barry Morrison of Hitachi Data Systems Canada

12: Mike Lazardis of Research in Motion

#12: Mike Lazardis of Research in Motion

Research in Motion has been written off more times than we can count, and 2010 was certainly no exception. Whether it would be the iPhone, the iPad or the Android OS that would do the deed, analysts were quick several times to write off the Waterloo, Ont.-based technology leader.

Ignoring the naysayers, RIM’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Lazardis, instead focused on proving them wrong once again, as the company made progress on several key fronts, winning investor support for continued strong earnings that continue to confound the skeptics.

RIM was busy on the product front bringing several new offerings to market and previewing one major one: its answer to the Apple iPad. The buzz had been RIM’s entry in the burgeoning tablet market would be called the BlackPad. Instead, RIM showed-off the PlayBook in September, with an eye on the business market.

Read more: #12: Mike Lazardis of Research in Motion

Meet all the newsmakers

Meet all the newsmakers

Watch for the next edition of our CDN Top 25 Newsmakers slideshow series to meet the rest of our top channel newsmakers for 2010.

And for the latest channel news, visit

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