VMware CEO talks software-defined data centers, OpenStack and dueling Amazon

At the helm for a year now, Pat Gelsinger says his company is well positioned

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As a top executive at Intel and EMC, Pat Gelsinger helped build the data centers of today. Now, as CEO of VMware, he’s promising to deliver the data centers of tomorrow. In this installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, Gelsinger spoke with Chief Content Officer John Gallant and Network World Senior Writer Brandon Butler about what he’s accomplished one year into his tenure, and why the company is uniquely positioned to deliver on the vision of software-defined data centers. Gelsinger detailed the company’s plans for its upcoming infrastructure-as-a-service offerings and how it will out-duel early leader Amazon in that market. He also discussed VMware’s plans to simplify mobility and explained how, rather than threatening the company, OpenStack is widening VMware’s market. (Oh, one other thing about OpenStack: He doesn’t see it gaining traction in the enterprise.) Gelsinger also shared thoughts on VMware’s competitors and discussed how he’ll work with former VMware CEO Paul Maritz’s new Pivotal spin off.

John Gallant:     What did you set out to change at the company and what have you accomplished so far?

Pat Gelsinger:    Coming into the company, a number of things were obvious.  One was this choreographed plan of the formation of Pivotal and moving the assets from EMC together to do that. I came in here, stepped in to take over as the leader.  That freed up Paul [Maritz] to go develop the Pivotal plan, and then we executed on that plan.  April 1st was the formal launch of it.  But also it was clear that VMware, as we moved those assets out, we needed to simultaneously clarify what it was that we were going to do going forward. We had the core virtualization platform that has been extraordinary for the compute [layer], but we had to lay out very clearly what our next vision was going to be as a company.  And we did that, our three priorities for the company, and then got everything aligned against those priorities.  We restructured the company, we sold off assets.  And really our Q2 earnings call, to me, was sort of the marker: OK, we’re done with all that stuff.  We’ve clarified the earnings, we clarified what’s in and what’s out, where we’re going for the future, and obviously, the good financial numbers helped us sort of snap the line in saying: OK, we’re ready for up-and-to-the-right for the next decade like we did for the last.

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