VMware undergoes a presidential shake-up

Paul Maritz is still CEO, but VMware has quietly named four co-presidents -- including three ex-Microsoft execs -- to help it battle Microsoft in the cloud

The Middle East is not the only place in the world where presidential changes are news these days. But even if you're a virtualization geek like me, you might have been surprised to hear about a change that hits a little closer to home -- a presidential shake-up taking place within the hallowed halls of VMware, the industry's virtualization leader.

As of Friday, VMware had still not issued a press release about the news, but the company did quietly disclose a reorganization of the company's leadership in a Jan. 27 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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According to the document, Paul Maritz, the ex-Microsoft hotshot brought in to the company by EMC to replace VMware co-founder Diane Greene as president and CEO back in 2008, has himself been removed as president of VMware but will retain his leadership position and the title of CEO.

When EMC CEO and VMware chairman Joe Tucci replaced Greene with Maritz, the move was attributed to Greene's lacking the operational experience needed to lead the company into its next growth stage. Maritz came in and did his job, propelling the company from a desktop and server virtualization company into a more sophisticated virtualization and cloud infrastructure company.

Now VMware has decided to promote four executives into the role of co-president: Carl Eschenbach, Richard McAniff, Tod Nielsen, and Mark Peek.

Carl Eschenbach, previously VMware's executive vice president of worldwide field operations, was named co-president of customer operations; Richard McAniff, previously VMware's executive vice president of products and chief development officer, was named co-president of products and chief development officer; Tod Nielsen, previously VMware's chief operating officer, was named co-president of applications platform; and Mark Peek, previously VMware's chief financial officer, was named co-president of business operations and chief financial officer.

Along with Maritz, two of VMware's four new co-presidents come with deep Microsoft ties. McAniff spent 21 years at Microsoft working in a variety of product development management positions, while Nielsen spent 12 years at the software giant in various roles including general manager of database and developer tools, vice president of developer tools, and at the time of his departure, vice president of Microsoft's platform group.

From the outside looking in, it's hard to say what this reorganization is really all about. But as VMware and Microsoft continue to go head-to-head in a battle for virtualization and cloud market share dominance, this new ex-Microsoft think tank in the co-presidential role could be just what the cloud doctor ordered.

The reorganization news comes just ahead of VMware's planned Partner Exchange conference in Orlando, Fla., where the company is expected to rally its partner channel around VMware's vision of cloud computing and its vCloud platform.

What do you think? Is this presidential shake-up more or less interesting compared to when Maritz took over from Diane Greene back in 2008? It's less shocking, to be sure, but I'm on the fence as to the "interesting" part. As outsiders, let's see if we even notice a difference on this side of the fence.

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