Last year Sun, this year HP. Last month HP; this one Sepaton; the attraction of 'no tapes' has proved strong enough to lure Fidelma Russo from HP to virtual tape supplier Sepaton, after barely a year with Hurd's company.

Fidelma Russo is an engineering VP-type person and her recruitment says quite a lot about what she thinks are the prospects for Sepaton, where the technologies of virtual tape, sub-file level de-duplication and replication to remote sites are combining to produce a hot-hot development area.

This is what the Sepaton PR flack said she said about her appointment at Sepaton: "The market for data protection solutions is growing on a trajectory not typically seen in most industries. After an extensive review of alternative approaches to data de-duplication, virtual tape and remote replication, it is clear that Sepaton's ContentAware architecture sets it apart from other attempts in scalability, modularity, 'future proofing,' and more. I am very excited to join this experienced team of storage industry experts and to contribute to the company's future success."

So why did she leave HP? She joined at the end of 2006 from Sun. There is, in the phrase 'an extensive review', a hint that she looked around fairly widely. I mean, we could could roughly say she spent 3 months getting her feet under the table at HP; 6 months becoming disenchanted; and 3 months looking around. HP, in senior exec terms, was pretty much a revolving door for her, she was in and out that fast.

At Sepaton she becomes an EVP; the E not standing for exalted but executive, executive vice president of engineering and development in fact, certainly I should think a position with stock options and Ms Russo will probably be shopping for trousers with deeper pockets. It was a position and title that was not open to her, I believe, at HP.

At HP she was vice president of Adaptive Infrastructure, concerned with next-generation data centres. The ex-Walmart CIO, Randy Mott, now HP's CIO, has had a big effect on HP's data centre ideas. Ex-HDS CEO Dave Roberson joined HP in May to run StorageWorks, being called the senior vice president and general manager of the company’s enterprise storage business. With Hurd's new team pretty much in place perhaps Russo saw a career ceiling above her and decided to look elsewhere. Both the storage side of things and data centres were tied up.

Also, and this is a guess, I think Sun, from where Russo joined HP, is a pretty flexible and free-wheeling sort of company whereas Hurd's HP is more deliberate and, probably, far more political. Other Sun/StorageTek exec's have found congenial homes in newer and smaller companies such as Pillar Data Systems (Brenda Zawatski). Ms Congeniality is not to be found in HP these days; smaller and faster-growing companies being more to her liking.

Prior to joining HP, Russo was a storage lady through and through, being senior vice president at Sun Microsystems, responsible for all aspects of the SAN, NAS and storage software business including product portfolio investments, design, development and support. There she reported to Mark Canepa who left in May 2006. She followed her boss into exile a few months later, having lasted just two years. While at Sun she was involved in Thumper (X4500) development - interesting times.

She joined Sun in October, 2004 from EMC where she was VP for advanced systems development. EMC didn't recruit her; instead she came courtesy of the October, 1999 Data General acquisition, being DG's development VP for Aviion servers; remember them?

Prior to DG she was an engineering manager at DEC, Ken Olsen's minicomputer business and, then, a great rival of HP and also of Sun. She left DEC to join DG in 1995.

So now it's back to storage and back to engineering development in a fast-developing and crucial-looking technology area. What goes around comes around. Good luck to her.

(I bet the recruitment fee is tied to her staying in place for longer than a year though.)