Big news today - was an interesting day, I was with 3 customers in joint meetings with VMware. With the announcement (http://www.vmware.com/company/news/releases/executive_leadership.html) of the change in VMware CEO, it was... unsurprising.... that it was a big part of the dialogue - both with the customers and with VMware folks.
So, for what it's worth - what do I think (for that read on), and what do YOU think?
First of all - I had no idea this was going to happen. If this surprises anyone - it shouldn't. It is a true statement to say that VMware does indeed operate as a separate independent company. The decision was by the VMware board, and EMC operates as a partner to VMware. I suspect I found out the same moment that my peers at IBM, HP, Dell, NetApp, HDS, etc.
People get confused because Joe is the chairman both of the EMC and VMware board - but like many people on boards, he needs to operate with a strict chinese wall - and he does that with aplomb (at least from where I sit).
Clearly the market reaction was rough, and man, I felt that one.
That said - the market response to something unexpected is always going to be rough - the real proof of whether this is a good thing or a bad thing isn't in today, or tomorrow, but how this affect VMware employees at large in the mid and long term and by corollary, VMware's ability to continue to innovate, execute, and continue to dominate the market it created.
Chuck did a good post - and has links to other people's articles at both ends of the spectrum - here: http://chucksblog.typepad.com/chucks_blog/2008/07/commentary-on-c.html
I've been caught once in the Register's PR game (i.e. I say one thing, and they quote something totally different because they want to propagate something inflammatory), and as a reader (and a human being), I can't help but love reading their super hyperbolic articles - it's like watching a car crash. While it makes for interesting reading to caricature Joe and Diane and EMC and VMware - I really don't think this was for relationship issues and egos. I like Diane just the way she is - and hey, Register, I'm really short and a sailor too, but I don't think I'm hard to get along with :-)
So what's it about, and what does it mean? Well, I can tell you what I think. Remember - this is a simple man's opinion - and fundamentally I'm a technologist, not an expert on macro-level business.
- This is not "EMC exerting control" - it was a change the VMware Board unanimously (excepting Diane of course) wanted.
- Paul Moritz is getting characterized by some as "an EMC guy". This has me scratching my head... It seems to me (I've never met the guy) he'd be better characterized as "a senior former Microsoft executive with experience managing organizations through the 'billion to billions' growth phase". The board decided they needed a change - this fellow was a top-notch candidate and happened to be right on hand, but he's certainly not "an EMC guy". He was also a key senior exec at Microsoft, and well regarded by his team, the company at large and the market. When he left from Microsoft clearly frustrated, it was a blow - and I think he's ideal to lead the fight Microsoft in this new battleground.
- Diane should be (and is by me) respected for what she and Mendel (and the other 3 founders) created - we all know that VMware is the foundation of many of our customers core "next generation datacenter" plans. This followup to the Windows IT Pro article that got me so steamed says it all when comparing VI3.5 and Hyper-V. That doesn't change.
- The board decided that for the next stage of growth of VMware to $2B and beyond, new leadership was needed - and this is very common as companies grow through stages of life.
- This doesn't change VMware's independence or EMC's partnering model with VMware one iota.
- VMware will go on, continue to innovate and grow. The strength of VMware is a killer product set that customers love and continued innovation - VI3.5 and the "managers" aren't the end, they are the beginning :-) Just think - it wasn't the death knell of EMC when Moshe left(was pushed out) - in fact it was a huge event, with huge impact, and huge change - but not a death knell. In fact, it marked a new phase of EMC's corporate life. Just like with EMC when Moshe left, while I hope that Mendel can continue to contribute, but there is an ARMY of the smartest Virtualization engineering talent at VMware - looking every day for fun problems to solve.
Great companies are about more than any one person.
To me, this is simple.
At EMC, we need to continue our manical focus on being the best choice for Information Infrastructure in VMware environments - and being the right partner - by choice - for customers and for VMware themselves.
In turn, VMware needs to continue their manical focus on being the best choice for server/desktop virtualization, datacenter automation, and cloud computing.
That's what I get up every morning trying to do on the EMC side, and I know that it's what thousands of people at VMware get up every morning trying to do.
That's what I told the customers, and that's what I told the VMware field folks - and it's what I believe.
Curious for your thoughts.