Here’s what we know: After four years as CEO of VMware, Paul Maritz is being replaced by EMC COO Pat Gelsinger. But is there more to the story?
Maritz is leaving, but it is not at all clear what will be happening to him - is he all the way out the door or will he be heading up a rumored VMware spinoff that would take cloud assets from VMware and parent company EMC and put them under one roof?
Industry speculation has EMC’s Greenplum big data analytics tool and VMware’s open source Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) project among those assets to be included in the purported spinoff, which would align the companies' rather scattered cloud and big data programs into one coordinated entity.
The rumors that Maritz would lead this new division make sense. Despite his past employment at Microsoft, or perhaps because of it, Maritz is decidedly pro-open source, something that will be of use if VMware/EMC are planning to jump into the Infrastructure-and-Platform-as-a-Service pond to compete with Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
Cloud Foundry would likely be the centerpiece of any such division, since it can be positioned directly against the Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine PaaS offerings. If it were included in the new division, the joint VMware/EMC Project Rubicon, which is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solution, would round out the new division’s product line to compete with Amazon Web Service’s EC2 and Google’s new Compute Engine offering.
Though such a spin-off would have a compelling lineup of products and services, it doesn’t mean this would comprise a winning team. VMware’s vSphere virtualization software has not been a significant presence in the cloud yet (Amazon uses Xen for its Virtual Machines, and Google uses KVM for its VMs). The Cloud Foundry PaaS has been well-received, but it is not exactly battle-tested yet.
Another Challenge to Microsoft?
A coordinated cloud effort from VMware could pose the most serious risk to Microsoft, which is already struggling against Amazon. Redmond can ill afford more competition as it tries to get its Azure cloud services off the ground.
For cloud computing customers, though, a major new player might ultimately bring more choice and lower costs - whether or not Maritz is at the helm.
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