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EMC Federation's attack blogger Chuck Hollis departs for Oracle

Joins Big Red's new converged infrastructure team and old mentor Dave Donatelli

Chuck Hollis, VMware's chief strategist for storage and availability, and former EMC global marketing chief technology officer, has announced he's leaving the EMC Federation for a gig as senior veep at Oracle.

Hollis has, of course, blogged the move. And from his blog, no less.

Hollis was comfortably the EMC Federation's highest-profile bloggers, wading into battle without fear to pick fights with rivals. Most recently, he decided Nutanix was worthy of his and VMware's ire.

The senior veep gig at Oracle will be, Hollis wrote, in the “new converged infrastructure group” at Big Red. Hollis' boss will be another former EMCer, Dave Donatelli.

Hollis wrote “Very early in my career, Dave [Donatelli] was my boss, my mentor and my friend” and that through EMC's early years “I really learned a lot from watching Dave in action. Without that opportunity, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.” “The idea of working for him again is very, very appealing.”

The combination of a chance to work with Donatelli, Oracle's pedigree and Big Red's converged infrastructure plans represent, Hollis wrote, represents “something I just can’t pass up.”

“For those of you who are wondering exactly what I'll be doing at Oracle, the answer is 'probably a lot of the stuff I've done before, plus some new stuff'.”

The stuff he's done before will include “... blogging, just from a different perspective. And I’d like to think that good blogging is just that — things viewed from different perspectives.”

Hollis' role will be assumed by Duncan Epping, who currently blogs at

+Comment Oracle can use a figure with Hollis' profile. Oracle's blogs are moribund and dull, seldom generating comments or going far beyond corporate messaging. The company is also not exactly beating down the media's door with news of its hardware offerings. Even a significant announcement like the announcement of three new generations of the SPARC architecture didn't rate the despatch of an incoming email to media. Such announcements instead slip out onto the blogs, often days or weeks after customers have been informed.

That's not just shop talk, by the way, rather an observation that Oracle doesn't have a voice in the communities where IT infrastructure is debated.

Oracle's converged infrastructure strategy has been, to date, to try to convince customers of its software that it will run best on a stack of Oracle hardware. But the market;s not buying that story: sales for 2015 were down five per cent year over year.

Oracle's response has several facets. In January, it decided to play on price by releasing a new range of its Engineered Systems and telling world+dog they would be cheaper than anyone else's competing products. In June it hired former EMC and HP man Donatelli. We've since seen the company try for different branding by changing the name of the “Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance” (VCA) to the “Oracle Private Cloud Appliance” (PCA).

Adding Hollis to the mix gives Big Red a voice that the industry will pay attention to.

Whether he'll get respect is another matter. Hollis' long tenure at EMC gave his blogs a certain sincerity. If he comes out against EMC, it will be hard not to think he's become a hired gun.

Which is not to say that the EMC federation comes out of this looking great: EMC recently lost three senio executives and Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz more-or-less retired from the company last week. We're also hearing persistent tales of senior folk bailing from VCE, the Federation's converged infrastructure arm. The Federation's own converged infrastructure efforts, especially VMware's EVO:RAIL, aren't setting the world on fire.

Hollis hasn't abandoned a sinking ship by any means and his new home isn't exactly cleaving the water like one of Larry Ellison's mega-yachts.

Perhaps the conclusion to be drawn from all these moves is that the cloud sure is making life tough in enterprise hardware-land. ®

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