Cloud // Platform as a Service
Commentary
7/19/2012
09:41 AM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Maritz's VMware Legacy Defies Doubters

Maritz's competitive style led VMware to dominance in virtualization. You can bet that his new role as EMC chief strategy officer won't be a ceremonial one.

Maritz changed the youthful culture of VMware, maturing it, and giving it a harder business edge. The ability of the ESX Server host to do work expanded with the rapid expansion of server CPU power, and Maritz sought to require customers to pay for value by charging on a basis of the virtual machine or virtual workload, not the physical CPU.

It was Maritz's most controversial move, and it angered large virtualization customers. Those companies were accustomed to seeing their VMware software licenses accomplish more and more work at a regularly diminishing, per unit of work, rates. Maritz backed off that change, but only slightly--increasing the threshold that leads to higher prices, which essentially just delayed the price increase for many.

Gartner predicts that, five years from today, the typical data center will be 86% virtualized. By then, many vendors will have adopted per virtual machine or memory-per-virtual-workload pricing, as Maritz pioneered at VMware. The use of physical devices as the measure of value will have become hopelessly outdated. But until then, other vendors are happy to see VMware take the lead in this transition. A Microsoft spokesman last fall said Microsoft would stick to per-CPU pricing and began referring to VMware's "v-tax."

In an unusually open interview, Maritz told the Korn Ferry publication, Briefings, that no single executive, including himself possessed all the traits needed to run a modern company. In his own case, he was unsparing: "I'm a coward, I hate to say. I hate confrontation. I'll do everything I can to avoid it. I need somebody on the leadership team who forces me to come to grips with those issues."

That matches EMC Chairman Joe Tucci's description of Maritz during an analyst briefing Tuesday as "probably the most selfless, mild mannered executive that I have ever worked with." But Maritz embodies a contradiction: behind that polite and considerate exterior, he has a keen appreciation of technology, and he's driven to an extreme to never lose a technology race.

As cowards go, there are probably few more feared and respected than Maritz in the tech world.

Proponents of OpenStack and CloudStack, two open-source software systems for running cloud-based data centers, say VMware's relentless drive to dominate the data center is their real foe, not another cloud company. Xen open source proponents at Citrix Systems were driven into the arms of (and an alliance with) Microsoft because they could make so little headway against VMware's broad acceptance.

Systems management vendors like HP, BMC Software and CA Technologies must wonder how much of the systems management field will be left for them if the data center continues to virtualize, and they can't disrupt VMware's drive to manage all virtualized systems. Maritz has moved VMware into a position where its uses virtualization know-how to re-organize how the data center is run.

It's not clear how the executive changes and new dynamic at VMware and EMC will play out. Maritz the competitor remains a dangerous adversary to those who think he's removed from the stage. It seemed strange, at first, that Tucci would bind the wings of such a successful CEO and send him upstairs to a vague strategy role. Is Tucci crazy? The transition from Greene to Maritz seemed crazy at the time, but it proved to be the right move.

From the upper corporate offices, Maritz, the technology visionary, is going to gain a wider view. The data center of the future isn't about consolidated virtual servers but flexible, configurable, constantly shifting resources of all types--servers, storage, networking. It will take a lot more work to get networking, storage, I/O processes, and all the underlying hardware integrated into the "software-defined data center."

For Maritz, chief technology strategy officer isn't a placeholder courtesy role, it's a full time job with what he describes as "hands-on, day to day responsibilities" for the success of his chosen technology initiatives. I don't know what that means exactly, but I wouldn't bet against him.

Expertise, automation, and silo busting are all required, say early adopters of private clouds. Also in the new, all-digital Private Clouds: Vision Vs. Reality issue of InformationWeek: How to choose between OpenStack and CloudStack for your private cloud. (Free with registration.)

Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
ps2os2
50%
50%
ps2os2,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/19/2012 | 8:07:18 PM
re: Maritz's VMware Legacy Defies Doubters
I did not like EMC before for their business practices (and their hardware). This is a guarantee they will not be getting any business from us.
Google in the Enterprise Survey
Google in the Enterprise Survey
There's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity ­products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent ­mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers ­distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - July 22, 2014
Sophisticated attacks demand real-time risk management and continuous monitoring. Here's how federal agencies are meeting that challenge.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.