VMware co-founder and former CEO Diane Greene working on a new stealth project

New company, Datrium, expected to focus on virtual storage for cloud and large-scale data centers, but Greene's role is unknown

If you thought virtualization enthusiasts had forgotten about the name Diane Greene, the ex-CEO and co-founder of VMware, you thought wrong. It's been five years since Greene was abruptly removed from power and dethroned as the CEO of VMware, but the name still rings true with VMware users.

For those of us who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, you might remember the commercials from the financial world with the famous slogan, "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen." Decades later, for those of us in the virtualization world, we know that when Diane Greene's name is mentioned, people listen.

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After starting a company in 1998 that ultimately caused a swarm of data center administrators to brand their cars, computers, and bodies with the VMware logo, Greene still has a cultlike virtualization following that is waiting to see "what's next" from this technologist. She's been out of the limelight for the past five years, and people have been anxiously awaiting to see if she has something new and innovative up her sleeve. In essence, people are waiting for the next big idea.

The latest rumor started last month when Diane Greene's name was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article talking about Cumulus Networks emerging from stealth mode. The company announced $15 million in venture capital funding, part of which came from the investment of Diane Greene who said she invested "because of the disruptive nature of the company."

But the line within that article that really caught the attention of virtualization reporters was when Greene told the Wall Street Journal that she needed a solution like Cumulus to provide "a switch and a scalable data center for her own new project."

Just like that, four tiny little words -- "her own new project" -- caused quite a stir.

Since being ousted as CEO of VMware back in July 2008, Greene has remained fairly quiet. Prior to her tenure at VMware, Greene held technical leadership positions at Silicon Graphics, Tandem Computers, and Sybase; she was also the CEO of VXtreme. Since her departure from VMware, Greene has become an active angel investor, reportedly providing investments to companies such as Cloudera, CloudPhysics, Cumulus Networks, Nicira, Nimbula, Pure Storage, Typesafe, and Unity Technologies. She's also on the board of Intuit, and more recently Greene joined the Google board of directors in January 2012.

Now, it sounds like Greene is ready to get back in the game, no longer satisfied with sitting on the sidelines as an investor. 

Rumors first began circulating that Greene was about to target storage giant EMC with a new Silicon Valley-based storage virtualization company coming out of stealth mode called Datrium Storage. The rumor spread quickly without any solid facts, instead powered by calls for karma.

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