Ethernet equipment

Sun's Canepa Goes Extreme

With Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) going through a difficult period, maybe it's appropriate that the company picked a CEO accustomed to adversity.

Mark Canepa, formerly the VP in charge of the troubled networked storage division at Sun Microsystems Inc. , was named Extreme's CEO today. He replaces Gordon Stitt, who becomes chairman of Extreme's board in a transition announced in May. (See Extreme Names CEO and Stitt Gets Less Extreme.)

Extreme's earnings have managed to disappoint analysts for three quarters running -- although Stitt notes that his decision to retire as CEO came some time ago and isn't related to Extreme's situation, good or bad. (See Extreme Scores Hat Trick.)

Canepa, meanwhile, is a 10-year veteran of Sun who took over that company's storage efforts in 2001. He ended up leaving last May -- voluntarily, according to the official release -- as the company began what would become a large-scale restructuring under new CEO Jonathan Schwartz. (See Sun Takes Action Amidst Concerns and Schwartz Shakes Up Sun.)

Sun has a less than stellar reputation in storage, and its $6.1 billion acquisition of StorageTek -- arguably the biggest event in Canepa's tenure -- didn't do much to change that. (See Sun to Acquire StorageTek for $4.1B and What Sun Could Have Bought Instead.)

Whether that's Canepa's fault is open to debate. It's analogous to a baseball manager getting fired when a team is losing; maybe the team just wasn't that good in the first place.

"Certainly a lot of fingers were pointed toward Mark, but storage at Sun has never been a strategic initiative," says Greg Schulz, an analyst with The StorageIO Group . "From a strategic standpoint it's always been a secondary effort at best, and I'd say that has more to do with the culture and the DNA at Sun."

In fact, HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) even put together a special Website just to pick apart Sun's storage history and the StorageTek deal. (Apparently, Hallmark didn't have a greeting card to suit the occasion.) The site notes that Sun talked about "redefining storage" in 1998, in 2000, and again in 2003. Cheeky.

StorageTek, meanwhile, finally turned in some strong numbers, boosting Sun's June quarter. (See Sun's Storage Rebounds.)

Canepa wasn't available for comment, and Extreme isn't yet commenting on the reasons for choosing him.

Extreme's stock blipped upwards today, climbing $0.11 (3.1%) to $3.69 by early afternoon.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:42:42 AM
re: Sun's Canepa Goes Extreme Anybody have any thoughts on Canepa's outlook at Extreme? Is he the right guy for the job? Is this the right company for him?

It certainly seems like a nice opportunity: Still in the enterprise space (mostly), decently high-profile company. Extreme might be having troubles but it's not about to go under or anything. Potential for upside could be there -- although, on the flip side, many of you believe Extreme has peaked.
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