VMware brain drain: Former sales chief moves on to Amazon's cloud biz

Mike Clayville switching to Amazon Web Services marks the third departure of a high-ranking VMware official in the past few weeks

The exodus of executives at VMware has hastened in the past few weeks, with the latest departure being one of its top sales executives jumping ship and heading to the biggest cloud computing provider in the industry.

Mike Clayville has joined Amazon Web Services as the company’s new vice president of worldwide commercial sales, according to LinkedIn. He formerly held vice president-level positions at VMware, including of North American sales and most recently as vice president of product marketing for the company’s cloud infrastructure offerings. News of two other VMware departures came out last week, which follows a shakeup at the very top of the company last year.

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Clayville leaves VMware as the company is preparing its entrance into the public cloud market with the launch of its vCloud Hybrid Cloud services, which it expects to introduce in the third quarter of this year. By going to AWS, he’ll join one of the biggest competitors to that new offering from his former employer, but will also be at what many consider the market-leading IaaS provider.

He hasn’t been alone in finding the exit door at VMware. Last week, Tod Nielsen became CEO of Heroku, the platform as a service (PaaS) company owned by Salesforce.com. Nielsen has previously headed up VMware’s competing PaaS offering Cloud Foundry, and most recently migrated to the team working on Pivotal, the spinout from VMware and EMC which has an eye on the big data PaaS market. And also last week former VMware vice president of cloud and application services Jerry Chen left the company to become a partner at venture capital firm Greylock Partners, according to media reports.

Churn at VMware has been somewhat of an ongoing story during the past year or so. The company’s former CEO Paul Martiz left last summer to head up Pivotal and was replaced by former Intel CTO and EMC COO Pat Gelsinger. VMware CTO Steve Herrod left the company earlier this year to pursue a VC career at General Catalyst as well.

Stu Miniman left EMC three years ago to become an analyst at Wikibon who tracks VMware and says all the churn is not necessarily a good thing for the virtualization company, but it’s not terribly surprising either. “VMware has been going through a lot of change in focus, change in direction, they’ve have an almost complete turnover at the top level, and that tends to ripple down,” he says. “VMware needs to find their direction, and that can have some effect on the general morale of the company.”

Perhaps equally as interesting as the VMware departures is the fact that Amazon Web Services continues to hire. The addition of Clayville brings a veteran sales executive who has experiences selling to the enterprise market, which AWS is pushing into.

Network World senior writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. 

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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