Google adds VMware co-founder to its board of directors

Diane Greene, co-founder of VMware, brings her expertise in virtualization, cloud computing, and business software to Google's board

Last week Google surprised many in the virtualization world by naming Diane Greene to its board of directors, filling the 10th seat vacated more than two years ago when Arthur Levinson resigned. In addition to the new board member position, Greene will serve on Google's audit committee.

Greene co-founded VMware in 1998 with her husband, Stanford University professor Mendel Rosenblum, and three other university friends. VMware as a startup was responsible for moving virtualization from the mainframe to the x86-based computer and bringing virtualization to the masses.

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Greene was at the helm of VMware when EMC acquired the company for $625 million in 2004. She was also in control during the successful 2007 IPO period, where stock shares climbed 74 percent on the first day of trading. She continued to lead the company until July 2008 when EMC CEO Joe Tucci ousted Greene and replaced her as CEO with Paul Maritz, a former Microsoft veteran who had joined EMC earlier that year through the acquisition of software startup Pi Corp. The official reason for her removal at that time was that she lacked "operational experience" to get VMware to the next level, but rumblings were overheard that she and Tucci hadn't quite seen things eye to eye.

After the CEO shakeup at VMware, Greene remained quiet for some time in the virtualization world, but later surfaced as an investor of a startup company called Nicira. Like VMware, Nicira was founded by research leaders from Stanford and University of California at Berkeley. But rather than virtualize the physical server, this new company was formed to transform the cloud by virtualizing the network. Greene also became a board member of another cloud technology startup, an automated cloud management system named Nimbula that delivers Amazon EC2-like services behind the firewall.

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.

Let's hope Google will be able to use Greene's business software expertise to help fortify the company's enterprise software division, as well as leverage her virtualization knowledge to help with efforts in cloud computing and virtualized applications on Chromebook.

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