Blogosphere: Pundits ponder VMWare succession

EMC Corp.’s replacement of Diane Greene as CEO of VMWare Inc. provoked widespread speculation from the blogging community.

EMC, which owns VMWare, announced July 8 Greene would be replaced by Paul Maritz, founder of Pi Corp. Greene had been with VMWare when EMC acquired the virtualization vendor in 2004, and Maritz was retained by EMC as head of its cloud computing division after it bought Pi, which specializes in cloud computing.

“EMC did not say Greene was fired, but its press release did not say she left on her own,” wrote Dave Raffo of Tech Target. “Nor did it include any comment from Greene.”

Raffo noted EMC’s board of directors only thanked Greene “for her considerable contributions to VMware.”

Though EMC also announced that day VMWare’s revenue growth would be “modestly below” previous forecasts, the consensus among online pundits is that Greene’s departure had more to do with Microsoft Corp.’s launch of Hyper-V, the virtualization component of its Windows Server 2008 operating system.

“It seems very likely that the combination of Hyper-V’s entrance and VMware’s recently reduced guidance set the stage for a CEO change,” wrote Greg Ness, who runs the Archimedius blog.

“The speed of their replacement suggests that they don’t want to give Microsoft any wiggle-room when it comes to the adoption of Hyper-V inside the data center.”

Ness said Microsoft can take on VMWare without having to include the same features as VMWare ESX.

“Microsoft has a well-earned reputation for destroying even the most brilliant competitors, and the Hyper-V launch ahead of schedule no doubt has already placed additional pressures on VMware,” Ness wrote.

And Microsoft is not the only competitor VMWare is facing. Analyst Dan Kusnetzky, in his blog on ZDNet, noted Sun, Oracle, Virtual Iron and Linux vendors are also “strong competitors” of VMWare.

“It appears that VMware was not going to meet analyst revenue estimates and so the board decided to take quick action,” Kusnetzky wrote. “It brought in someone with an intimate knowledge of Microsoft’s inner workings and the company’s approach to marketing to help.”

Ness agreed Maritz’s experience at Microsoft was a factor.

“He knows Microsoft well and he knows where the market is ultimately going (into the clouds),” Ness wrote. “He may be able to help groom a technology leader into a marketing powerhouse at a critical time in its history. His biggest initial challenges may indeed be internal, where he will be filling some big shoes that no doubt enjoyed tremendous internal and external respect. Thusly, he has his work cut out for him internally and externally.”

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