On an analyst conference call, Tucci responded to that question: "We have a great strategy and opportunity, and we are executing well. One of the things I've learned through my career is the time to make these kind of changes is when you are in a position of strength, when you are performing well and when you have customer permission to play in these new markets."
Tucci added that VMware is moving to the next phase of cloud computing with the software-defined data center and solving the problems of the post-PC era. And it is facing tremendous opportunities around data and new products. While Maritz and team have done a "stellar job" in positioning VMware as a leader of that transformation, EMC and VMware now need to make adjustments that will allow them "to become the leaders in building out the complete, software-defined data center."
Maritz said that moving on would give him the freedom to think about some of these new application-oriented opportunities, and the company could address two of those very big opportunities: cloud infrastructure and what you can do on top of that cloud infrastructure.
The executive shuffle may make sense, but the news still came as a surprise to many industry pundits following EMC. Gelsinger, a former top executive at Intel, joined EMC in 2009 as COO and was widely believed to be Tucci's likely successor. Is that still the case, or is Maritz now the heir apparent? We may not know the answer to that question any time soon. During the analyst conference call, Tucci said he will remain chairman and CEO of EMC at least through 2013. But when the time comes, Tucci still expects his successor to be chosen from within the company.
Not confirmed during this announcement was the rumor of a cloud spinoff. Speculation has placed EMC's Greenplum big data analytics tool and VMware's open source Cloud Foundry project among the assets in the supposed spinoff.
However, VMware's Cloud Foundry PaaS isn't exactly capturing market share. Cloud Foundry supports Java, Node.js, and Scala, but it competes with offerings such as Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine, and Red Hat OpenShift. And if a joint VMware and EMC Project Rubicon were in the mix, it would have to contend with Amazon Web Services EC2, Google's new Compute Engine, and OpenStack on the IaaS side of the cloud.
VMware vSphere hasn't exactly set the cloud world on fire either, and the open source Xen and KVM hypervisors seem to be giving VMware fits as they stake their claim in the growing cloud market.
Still, a new coordinated cloud effort could still make some serious waves. The question becomes, how far are VMware and EMC willing to go to get to where they want to be in this expanding cloud market? Keep your eyes on the cloud prize and watch to see if the spinoff rumors turn out to be true.
This article, "VMware and EMC swap execs and look to data center's future," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.