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Worried by VMware's executive exodus? Dell should be

Misfortune or carelessness? Both are at work down Virtzilla way

“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune,” Oscar Wilde is reputed to have said, before adding “to lose both looks like carelessness.”

What, then, to say of VMware? In recent weeks has lost a chief financial officer Johnathan Chadwick, the brains behind its NSX network virtualisation product Martin Casado, and now also chief operating officer Carl Eschenbach? Last year it lost long-time chief technology officer Ben Fathi.

Is Virtzilla unlucky? Or careless? There's a case to be made for both.

VMware's been careless of late, flubbing patches, launching VSAN with advice to use hardware that just didn't do an adequate job of running a SAN, and arrogantly assuming users would not want to bring old licences onto new EVO:RAIL hyper-converged appliances.

The company has also backed away from its ambition of being a top-tier cloud player to rank alongside AWS, Azure, Google and SoftLayer. VMware admitted it couldn't match rivals' spending power, but still aimed high. And failed.

As ZettaGrid man Anthony Spitieri has noted, lots of other irritations are appearing in VMware products.

When The Register's virtualisation desk mentioned some of these careless incidents to VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger last year, he said some business unit managers have endured “trips to the principal's office” for a dressing-down.

Executives like Chadwick, Casado and Eschenbach are all at a point in their careers where sorting out messes probably looks a chore. So VMware's carelessness may have cost it some quality people.

On the bad luck front, being taken over by Dell was not entirely predictable. For the likes of Chadwick, who has served as CFO at listed entities, it's understandable the nominal demotion becomes motivation for a career move. Nor did Casado sign up to be a cog in Dell's wheel. Eschenbach's been with VMware over a decade, a fine stint but one that could well start to give anyone itchy feet.

When considering Casado and Eschenbach, consider their destination of venture capital firms. VMware's the standout enterprise software growth story of the last decade (I put the likes of Salesforce are in a different category). That its people are seen as likely to identify and nurture new businesses is a ringing endorsement of VMware.

El Reg's virtualisation desk is therefore happy to come down on the side of misfortune rather than carelessness.

VMware's new generation of managers have a mighty legacy with which to work. The departing execs have set the company up with strong growth prospects in network virtualisation and end-user computing.

So good luck living up to your predecessors's feats, recently-promoted VMware execs. And good luck making the mega-merger work, retaining talent and ironing out VMware's recent kinks, Michael Dell. ®

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