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Who Wouldn't Want Paul Maritz?

When all the rumors about Paul Maritz's future started flying around in the wake of CRN's scoop on the situation, it seemed hard to believe that the VMware CEO would be leaving the company he was so closely and successfully associated with under any kind of a dark cloud. Basically, it would have been crazy to let such a uniquely talented executive walk away and be hired by a VMware competitor. The baseball analogy here is, you never trade a good player within your own division so he can't come back to haunt you.

Still, there may have been some lingering doubts about Maritz, whose stature was questioned by many observers when VMware dropped "president" from his title and divvied up those responsibilities among four co-presidents back in February, 2011. At the time, Citrix president and CEO Mark Templeton -- who could have used the situation to his competitive advantage -- instead chose to support his fellow CEO, saying that he believed that only Maritz himself had the internal clout to redesign the executive suite.

So if you're not going to let Maritz go, how do you keep him? By giving him the opportunity to get away from all the business decisions and let him channel his inner geek, as it were. That will keep him happy for a while, and as CRN speculated, Maritz -- or new VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger -- just might be called on to steer the EMC mother ship when an aging Joe Tucci decides to stand down.

And why not? Maritz has built VMware into a powerhouse that has reshaped the IT landscape with its innovative virtualization and cloud technologies. How many CEOs have had the impact he has?

Gartner research VP Chris Wolf has had several in-depth conversations with Maritz over the years, and believes he is an outstanding example of a leader with all the major tools at his command to get the most out of a company. "He is one of the most tech-savvy execs and one of the most visionary execs I have ever met," Wolf declares. "EMC obviously wants to be a major player in cloud computing, and Paul is the visionary who can take them there." Regarding Maritz's longer-term future at EMC, Wolf added, "Joe Tucci is getting up there in age, and he might want to be retiring soon, so perhaps this is a chance for Paul to be groomed as a possible successor as EMC CEO."

Mark Bowker is a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group who follows VMware very closely. He thought that Maritz might be looking to shift career gears. As Bowker puts it, "Paul has had a successful career and at the age of 57 I suspect he may be looking to take his hands off of his operational duties at VMware and focus more on rolling up his sleeves and developing the more interesting technical innovations happening in the market today."

Wolf touts Gelsinger's technical prowess, saying it will ease his transition into VMware, which is such a strongly technical company. "Gelsinger is a very tech-savvy executive, so it will be an easy transition for him because he has the technical chops and likes to roll up his sleeves and work on a white board."

It would have definitely been interesting to have been a fly on the wall when Gelsinger and VMware CTO Steve Herrod had their first one-to-one during the hiring process.

Referring to a report from GigaOm, CRN also said changes at the top may have greased the skids for a spin-off of some cloud-focused elements of VMware's business -- most notably, CloudFoundry, the company's open-source Platform-as-a-Service offering. Also according to GigaOm, Tod Nielson, co-president of VMware's application platform business, and Mark Lucovsky, VP of engineering in charge of CloudFoundry, are prime contenders to lead the possible new spin-off.

Bowker was appropriately intrigued by this spin-off scenario, saying, "One of the more interesting initiatives at VMware is CloudFoundry, but the company has yet to monetize it. I'm still not sure what they plan to do with these assets and how they turn them it into a profitable business."

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 07/18/2012 at 12:48 PM


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