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VMware: Attack of the co-presidents

Four replace half of Maritz

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Server virtualization behemoth VMware has announced that it has named four co-presidents and removed the president job from Paul Maritz, the hot-shot Microsoftie brought in by EMC to battle his old employer in the virtualization racket.

Maritz took the helm at VMware after co-founder Diane Greene was show the door in July 2008 when VMware missed its targets for sales and profits. Maritz left Microsoft in 2000 after spending 14 years at the software giant. In 2004, he founded a cloud computing startup called Pi Corp, which EMC acquired earlier in 2008. Under his guidance, VMware has evolved from a maker of desktop and server virtualization platforms to more sophisticated company trying to deliver cloudy desktop and server infrastructure.

How much of this cloudy thinking was due to Maritz and how much was already in place under Greene is unknown, but Maritz will nonetheless get credit for stabilizing VMware and should VMware make the transition to a true cloud player, he'll get credit for that, too.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, VMware said that Maritz is no longer president of the company, but rather just the chief executive officer. And now he has four co-presidents reporting to him. Carl Eschenbach, who was previously VMware's executive vice president of worldwide field operations, is now co-president of customer operations. Richard McAniff, who used to be executive vice president of products and chief development officer, is co-president of products and chief development officer. Tod Nielsen, who came to VMware after a long stint at Microsoft like Maritz, was VMware's chief operating officer, and he's now co-resident of applications platform. Mark Peek, who was chief financial officer, is co-president of business operations and chief financial officer.

See what you did, Larry Ellison? Now everyone wants co-presidents. Maybe even Leo Apotheker, HP's new CEO, who is looking to reorganize Hewlett-Packard before March, if the rumors are correct.

Anyway, it is hard to say what any of these co-presidential appointments really mean. If you had to analyze the titles from the outside, it looks like Peek picked up the operations duties formerly performed by Nielsen and Nielsen was put in charge of application platforms, a position he is more comfortable with perhaps because of his experience in the development tools organization at Microsoft.

It is a fair guess that VMware wants both better operational control and a tighter focus on its cloudy development platform - based on its SpringSource and RabbitMQ acquisitions and eventually expanding beyond Java out to Ruby, PHP, and maybe even .NET- going forward. ®

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