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EMC CEO succession blown wide open by VMware rumblings

Pat Gelsinger to run VMware, Maritz to run, er, what?

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Analysis The VMware cloud spinout rumour mill has churned up speculation that VMware CEO Paul Maritz is leaving - and will be replaced by Pat "golden boy" Gelsinger of parent company EMC.

Gelsinger, once favoured to succeed EMC boss Joe Tucci, effectively runs his company's core storage hardware business, being President and COO of EMC's Information Infrastructure Products group. He joined the storage giant from Intel in September 2009 after, it is widely thought, he failed to get the Intel CEO slot.

At EMC he became one of several candidates likely to succeed Tucci, a shortlist that includes EMC chief financial officer David Goulden. It was thought that Maritz was not interested in leading VMware's parent company. This may have changed.

These rumoured VMware moves follow hard on the heels of EMC's top-level sales team rejig. Stories surfaced yesterday about VMware spinning out a cloud-based operation using its virtualisation expertise plus EMC's Big Data division Greenplum. These reports were followed by gossip involving Maritz potentially leaving VMware and Gelsinger taking his job.

One of EMC vice-chairman Bill Teuber's new responsibilities is to groom future EMC leaders. It looks as though he is getting busy straight away.

One EMC insider's reading of the runes is that Gelsinger is inching closer to the EMC CEO spot: by heading up VMware, he'll get the experience of running his own company. However, Tucci doesn't want to, for want of a better analogy, put all his important files on just one disk, and therefore could give Gelsinger's old job to CFO Goulden - to give him the added experience he would need to get a solid run at the top slot.

Goulden is a numbers guy, and EMC engineering team, it's understood, needs whoever becomes CEO to understand products beyond their impact on the profit-and-loss statement. Some would say Goulden is an invisible man in engineering, except when he thinks costs are too high. He needs to show empathy to the engineering dept's concerns. At the moment Gelsinger does and Goulden needs to prove he does. It's a big ask.

With this reading of events Maritz would then join EMC's board and become an elder statesman, which would suit, some would say, his measured, intellectual approach to things. Tucci gets to keep all his senior exec stars in the EMC-VMware galaxy. A source said he's a master, a godfather even, at this sort of thing by massaging, flattering and persuading titanic egos to do his bidding for the greater good of "EMCware".

The masterful trick he has to pull off is to promote one guy without any of the others leaving and weakening the new guy's top executive team. Like having a new pope supported by the existing cardinals, in a way, but inside EMC the process is not otherwise like the Catholic church's approach to succession. For one thing the outgoing pope, being deceased, doesn't get much say in the choosing of his successor. Tucci is very much alive and determined to hand EMC over to someone who can keep the business growing and strong - that's his cardinal concern.

VMware announces its results on 23 July; EMC results will be revealed around then too. These EMC-VMware exec-level moves should be done and dusted by then.

Neither EMC nor VMware were immediately able to respond to inquiries on these moves. ®

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