Calling For Backup

Maxtor taps Eric Kelly to head new storage group

Information is growing faster than most businesses can keep pace. And unless you want to be involved in an Enron-style paper chase, it’s a good idea to store company information digitally. That’s where Eric Kelly and Maxtor come in. Kelly, president of Maxtor’s Network Systems Group (NSG), says the data-storage market is booming. “It’s growing anywhere from 30% to 50% a year,” says Kelly.

Maxtor, a leading hard disk drive manufacturer based in Milpitas, California, created the NSG division when it acquired Creative Design Solutions in 1999 for $57.6 million. The firm tapped Kelly to head the division in April 2001. He is charged with establishing the MaxAttach™ brand name under which the networked attached storage (NAS) products are marketed.

Kelly, 44, is one of a tiny but powerful contingent of African Americans heading up Fortune 500 companies or divisions within those companies. The California native holds an M.B.A. from San Francisco State University and an international M.B.A. from Harvard University. He has spent more than 20 years in the technology arena, beginning at IBM in 1980. Later, he worked at Connor Peripherals, a hard drive manufacturer, and Diamond Multimedia Systems, a communications and graphics company. Kelly joined Maxtor from iSyndicate Corporation, a San Francisco-based global provider of Internet syndication infrastructure and application solutions, where he was chief operating officer. Prior to iSyndicate, Kelly was vice president of the Enterprise group at Dell Computer Corporation, where he was responsible for managing $1 billion in business.

These days, storage is big business for Maxtor. Last year the company was the largest hard disk drive manufacturer in volume shipment with 26.5 % of the market. Kelly says his goal is to make Maxtor “the leader in providing complete network storage solutions to small, medium, and enterprise customers.”

He is the only top-level African American executive at Maxtor. But Kelly is not a mere figurehead. He is passionate about the importance of proper storage and data protection. “You have to really look at data as an asset, “Kelly says. “It’s just like money. Sometimes the data’s more important than money.” He adds that some key vertical markets with large systems storage requirements include the media, manufacturers, and medical imaging firms–thus the need for network attached storage systems. “Those are three of the markets that really have been very interested in our products,” Kelly says.

This past year has been interesting for Kelly. The dotcom bust and recession certainly affected Maxtor, but Sept. 11 events sparked a surge in interest in data storage and protection, he says. “People are now putting these systems in place to ensure they have protection of their data. They make sure they have it archived properly to be able to retrieve it quickly. Those are some of the [reasons] why the market’s growing so fast. People are looking at backup a lot differently than they were before.”

Companies are also revisiting their data protection plans to ensure the safety of critical information, Kelly says. “Organizations today just can’t afford to lose productivity or business because

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