What’s with this VMware executive diaspora?

Courtesy of VMware

Chuck Hollis, a longtime executive with EMC and then VMware, is joining Oracle where he will again work with fellow EMC veteran Dave Donatelli.

As to what he’ll be doing? Other than blogging, he’ s not saying much other than “probably a lot of stuff I’ve done before plus some new stuff.” according to a blog post post over the weekend.

Hollis, who joined EMC (EMC) in 1994 and moved to VMware (VMW), part of the EMC Federation , two years ago. At VMware he was chief strategist of storage and availability. The Federation comprises EMC itself and associated companies VMware, Pivotal, RSA, and VCE, in which EMC owns a stake. The federation has come under fire as Elliott Management pressures EMC to sell its stake in VMware. Elliott’s contention is that VMware would do better for shareholders if it was completely spun out from EMC. EMC chairman Joe Tucci has proclaimed otherwise.

Dave Donatelli was a hard-charging storage exec at EMC before he joined Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) in a personnel move that prompted litigation that prevented him from working in HP’s storage business for a year. Donatelli joined Oracle (ORCL) very quietly early this year, but his arrival as the executive vice president of converged hardware was announced in June.

Hollis’s exit was first reported last week CRN which subsequently reported that Ben Fathi, VMware CTO, is also leaving the server virtualization company. A VMware source confirmed Fathi’s exit. Reached for comment, a VMware spokesman confirmed the departures and thanked both executives for their service to teh company. He also pointed out that Duncan Epping, chief technologist working in VMware’s Office of the CTO will assume some of Hollis’s blogging duties.

These personnel moves came a few days after Pivotal, another federation company, said Paul Maritz was turning over the CEO job to Rob Mee, although Maritz will stay on as vice chairman of Pivotal, a spin-out of EMC and VMware.

This high-profile executive churn comes at an awkward time for VMware, which hosts its annual vSphere love fest next week in San Francisco.

Hollis’ move to Oracle comes as that company is trying to beef up its credibility in cloud computing, where it has laggedalthough to be fair, both EMC and VMware have also struggled as many of their customers are putting more of their workloads onto cloud infrastructure.

In public cloud, Amazon (AMZN) Web Services dominates, while Microsoft (MSFT) Azure and Google (GOOG) Cloud Platform are seen as the two major alternatives. VMware is pitching vCloud Air as a business-friendly alternative to those options, but traction is unclear at this point.

This story was updated at 11:59 a.m. with VMware’s official comment.

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