<i>Enterprise Systems</i> Power 100: 6-10

IT Leaders No. 6-10

6. Steve Ballmer (CEO, Microsoft Corp.)
Big, bald and loud pretty much describes 45-year-old Steve Ballmer, who hasn't changed his style a bit since taking over as CEO of Microsoft last year. Following Bill Gates' act can't be easy, but Ballmer does it with an outspoken style for which he's well-known, whether berating the Justice Department for its pursuit of his company for antitrust violations or defending Microsoft's pricing and licensing practices. As the 25-year-old company continues its quest to maintain desktop dominance in the midst of the tech market downslide; as it fights a growing interest in open source; and as it pushes deeper into the enterprise with its .NETtechnology and beefed-up servers, it will need every bit of Ballmer's renowned spunk and passion.

7. Danny Lewin (Founder & CTO, Akamai Technologies Inc.)
Responsible for directing research and development at Akamai, Lewin has the power to determine his company's future in what will likely be one of the most fiercely competitive IT markets over the next two years—content delivery. While a down economy has made companies reluctant to take on the expense of innovative technologies, analysts still see a huge market for solutions that speed the transmission of data over the Internet. If Lewin continues to drive innovation at Akamai, the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm could be in position to reap the profits when demand starts to pick up in this space.

8. Linus Torvalds (Initial Developer, Linux operating system)
Choice is good. Free is even better. Free, flexible and reliable is by far the best. He's far from being a marketing mogul, yet Torvalds and his open source operating system continue to make inroads into corporate computing rooms worldwide, giving major proprietary OSes a run for their, uh, money. While the open source movement has been brewing since the '70s, it didn't take hold in the popular imagination until Torvalds' Linux operating system gained industry momentum. As former proprietary-software companies like IBM lend developers to open-source Linux projects, it's clear that Linux is a catalyst for change. Today, Torvalds works as a programmer for Transmeta Corp. and aided the development of the code-morphing technology for its Crusoe chip. He still leads Linux development, announcing when new kernels are ready for public consumption and stands as a spokesman for open source.

9. Larry Ellison (Chairman & CEO, Oracle Corp.)
If there's a corporate character that can make Bill Gates look good, Larry Ellison is the guy. Sure, he's rich, famous and successful, but is that any excuse for being notoriously flamboyant, egotistical and obnoxious? But, something must be working. Oracle owns 40 percent of the database market, and the company continues as the world's leading supplier of information management software, despite its recent price stock plunge along with the rest of the tech market. The departures of Ray Lane and Gary Bloom from top management aren't good signs, and in fact are probably a result of Ellison's reputed overbearing style. But as the database provider of the Internet, Oracle and its founder are positioned to make even more money. As Ellison once said, "If the Internet turns out not to be the future of computing, we're toast. But if it is, we're golden."

10. Andy Grove (Co-founder & Chairman, Intel Corp.)
Andy Grove may have stepped down as Intel's CEO, but he hasn't stepped away from the company he co-founded—or from the industry he helped shape. Grove has a strong background in semiconductors, but under his leadership Intel positioned itself as a leader in the PC-related marketplace with products like microprocessors, motherboards and chipsets. Grove's catchphrase, "Only the paranoid survive," echoes through Intel's current efforts to scale back on service products like Web-hosting in favor of refocusing on hardware and development, a move expected to carry the company through the IT recession. Possible downside: Just who gave the green light to those Blue Man Group commercials?

The Top Five IT Leaders

Leaders No. 11-20

Leaders No. 21-30

Leaders No. 31-40

Leaders No. 41-50

Leaders No. 51-75

Leaders No. 76-100