Earlier this week I was with Alcatel Lucent in Naperville, Illinois when a tweet came in that Paul Maritz, VMware’s CEO, had been dismissed from his post. I would have thought the idea was absurd, except that rumours had also been swirling that VMware was planning to spin out its cloud assets into a separate company comprised of its Cloud Foundry and Greenplum assets. Smoke, fire, etc.
VMware’s PaaS play Cloud Foundry is certainly in transition – after the burst of excitement last year when the technology hit the market, we saw the departures of folks like project lead Derek Collison, CTO and chief architect, to found his own company Apcera, one of the hottest stealth startups in the valley right now. VCs are desperate to back Collison whatever he does next, and he’s been hiring folks from his TIBCO days, and from Google [Justin Smith, an “identity geek”. distributed abstracted cloud meets identity. hmmmm].
But SpringSource, the acquisition that got VMware into the middleware game, is also in flux now. Rod Johnson, SpringSource founder, recently left the firm, soon after vesting. The fact Cloud Foundry was built in Ruby rather than Java meant that there was plenty of internal tension on technical direction. Also bear in mind that VMware classic was not an open source play, wheras SpringSource and Cloud Foundry both are.
Derrik Harris over at GigaOm brings a really good perspective to the table concerning departures at VMware – Brain Drain a Sign of Influence or of its Demise? Essentially VMware has recently had a surfeit of talent come in, and its natural folks would move on (especially after vesting). He points to:
- Former Principal Engineer Satyam Vaghani (he co-founded ProximData)
- Former Principal Engineer Ganesh Venkitachalam
- Former VP of Product Strategy Shaun Connolly (to Hortonworks)
- Former VP of Business Operations, Cloud Application Platform Mark Brewer (to Typesafe)
- Former R&D Director Howie Xu (to Big Switch Networks)
- Former Senior Member of the Technical Staff Suresh Madhu ( he founded Onecloud Labs)
Derek finishes his post thusly
VMware has all the technological pieces it needs to stay relevant — even to lead the way — for a long time to come. But it still has to capitalize on them and create a cohesive vision for how they interact with one another and then continue to ensure they remain on the cutting edge. That’s gonna take the right people.
The right people. Indeed. Which brings us back to Maritz, and the mothership. It turns out that Maritz is moving over to EMC in a technical strategy role, while Pat Gelsinger, EMC’s COO is taking on the VMware CEO role. EMC is a huge, extremely well-managed company, and Gelsinger is very much on top of operations, and running a tight ship. Its fair to say Maritz is more experimental, more blue sky, and this is probably not the time for VMware to get too far ahead of the market. It has strong challenges coming from both Amazon Web Services (affecting its service provider business) and Microsoft (playing its well rehearsed game of copy and commoditise). Its important to stress Maritz didn’t do a bad job though…
(Cross-posted @ James Governor’s Monkchips)