EMC has hired the former chief architect of IBM's Grid computing programme as its chief technology officer (CTO). Jeff Nick, an IBM veteran of 24 years, will start at the storage vendor today.

He fills a position that had been vacant at EMC since former CTO Mark Lewis was made executive vice president of Open Software Operations in July 2003.

As head of EMC's Office of Technology, Nick will be responsible for setting the technical direction of EMC's software, systems and services arms, as well as for VMware, the software company EMC acquired earlier this year and continues to operate as an independent subsidiary.

"We needed somebody who was looking over all of these organisations and was looking out onto the horizon in terms of seeing where EMC could be in the future," said Anne Pace, an EMC spokeswoman.

By hiring Nick, EMC gains crucial expertise in developing industry standards, an area where it has stumbled in the past, according to Jonathan Eunice, an analyst with Illuminata. "EMC has been moving from a posture of 'we'll define the standard', to one that is much more inclusive of everyone else," he said. "Nick has a considerable strength in doing technology through standards organizations. He's been down that path before."

While at IBM, Nick led the company's work on the Open Grid Services Architecture standard for grid computing. He was also the lead architect for IBM's zSeries mainframe servers and is credited with bringing the Linux operating system to the mainframe.

Nick left IBM in June, before he was hired by EMC, Pace said. "He was looking for a fresh opportunity, and a startup was too small for him," she said. "He wanted someone with more experience in the industry."