Dell appoints server chief in leadership shuffle

Dell veteran Ashley Gorakhpurwalla will run the company's server business following the departure of Forrest Norrod

Dell has appointed a company veteran to run its server unit following the departure of an executive known for his strong opinions.

Ashley Gorakhpurwalla was promoted to vice president and general manager of Dell's Server Solutions unit. He is responsible for planning, development and delivery of server hardware and products.

Gorakhpurwalla, who has been with Dell 14 years and was previously vice president for server engineering, takes over for Forrest Norrod, who left Dell Oct. 1. Under Norrod, the server unit grew into a US$10 billion business. He was also responsible for building Dell's successful Data Center Services division, which Gorakhpurwalla also now heads.

"Norrod recently notified Dell of his desire to take some time off and then pursue other opportunities," said Erin Zehr, a spokeswoman for Dell, in an email.

Norrod established himself as a visionary in server technology. He was willing to experiment in new technologies and led Dell to be among the initial adopters of emerging ARM technology in servers. But he also felt it would take time for ARM to overcome software and adoption challenges.

Gorakhpurwalla will try to maneuver Dell through a server market in which buying trends are quickly changing. Companies such as Facebook and Google -- which have mega data centers -- are designing servers in-house and buying hardware directly at lower prices from manufacturers like Quanta and Inventec. That has impacted large server makers such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM, whose servers have less design flexibility.

Dell was the world's third-largest server maker by revenue during the second quarter of this year, according to IDC. But Dell's server business is threatened by smaller Chinese server makers such as Inspur, Huawei and Lenovo, which recently bought IBM's faltering x86 server business for $2.1 billion.

Last month, Dell started shipping PowerEdge 13 servers with Intel's latest Xeon E5-2600 v3 chips, code-named Grantley. Dell is still testing prototype servers based on ARM and no related product announcements have been made.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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