June 14, 2005

Linux Networx tabs Bo Ewald for CEO

Author: Tina Gasperson

High performance computing has gained back one of its own now that scientist and businessman Bo Ewald has agreed to serve as chief executive officer for Linux Networx.Ewald joined Linux Networx on June 8, as the culmination of a nationwide CEO search conducted by the company's board of directors. They were looking for someone with a knack for business to help Linux Networx fulfill what they believe is its "extraordinary potential," but they also wanted someone who knows plenty about high performance computing.

Ewald seemed a natural choice. He began his career back in the late '70s as a research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and climbed from deputy group leader, to group leader, to division leader. In 1984, he joined the marketing department of Cray Research, a move that eventually landed him in the president's chair at Cray in 1994. Ewald was heavily involved with the Cray Users Group (CUG), where he was considered a legend by its members.

From there it was a short hop to SGI, thanks to a merger with Cray in 1996, where he became the chief operating officer and was responsible for "running all of SGI's business and initiating a turnaround."

In 1998 Ewald resigned from SGI and, in a move away from his roots, set to work creating a new company that didn't have anything to do with high performance computing. E-Stamp was the first internet postage service, and under Ewald's leadership it amassed $125 million in an October 1999 IPO. In 2001, E-Stamp acquired the Learn2 Corp. and changed its focus from postage to online multimedia courses for businesses. Ewald stayed until 2002, when Learn.com bought out Learn2.

From there, Ewald's career journey found him at the Scale Eight Corp., a distributed network file storage system company where he was president and CEO. That company said it was thrilled to have someone with Ewald's past experience leading it. Yet, he was there for only a year before moving on in 2003 to Ceridian Corp., where he was the president of human resources solutions and was selected as the 2004 Human Resource Outsourcing Provider Executive of the Year.

Ewald says he moved away from high performance computing because of his desire to explore business model possibilities that were emerging with the newfound popularity of the World Wide Web. Now that's he's back in the world of HPC, Ewald says it "feels like coming home. I grew up in high performance computing and most of my professional career was shaped [there]." He had been following the success of Linux Networx "for quite some time," he says, because of the leadership position the company assumed in the industry.

Ewald says his objective as CEO of Linux Networx is to build a sustainable and healthy business simply by providing great products and service. But like any good scientist, Ewald also has some high-tech dreams. In a 1997 interview soon after he became executive vice president at SGI, he predicted, "Twenty to thirty years in the future, we'll be the first company to produce a system as usable as the one on the Star Trek Enterprise -- including a holodeck, the latest visualization graphics, the ability to access all the data in the universe... It will be easy to use, we'll be able to spin through it and do scientific analyses back and forth... we're already moving down that path." Ewald told NewsForge he still believes that day is coming for Linux and the high performance computing industry.

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