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Exclusive: VMware Cloud Chief Exits

April 27, 2016, 7:13 PM UTC
CA: Companies In Silicon Valley
A logo sign at the headquarters of VMware, Inc., in Palo Alto, California on December 6, 2014. Photo Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar/ Sipa USA *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Photograph by Kris Tripplaar—Sipa USA

Bill Fathers, the executive vice president who has headed up VMware’s vCloud Air project, is leaving the company, according to several sources close to the company.

His role will be filled by two “co-general managers” for cloud, Allwyn Sequeira and Laura Ortman, the sources said. Both execs have been with VMware (VMW) since 2008, according to their respective LinkedIn (LNKD) profiles.

The news was disclosed in a memo to staff from chief executive officer Pat Gelsinger on Tuesday, but it has not been announced publicly.

Note: A VMware spokesman confirmed the personnel changes and noted that the two new cloud leaders will report directly to Gelsinger.

Fathers’s exit is not a huge surprise given that the company’s cloud efforts have been in flux for more than a year. That picture got even fuzzier in October when Dell and VMware parent company EMC (EMC) disclosed their planned $67 billion merger. There was significant overlap in the three companies’ cloud strategies that muddied the waters further.

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Eventually, EMC and VMware said they would merge vCloud Air into EMC’s Virtustream enterprise cloud business under Virtustream chief Rodney Rogers, with Fathers taking on a strategic advisory role for Gelsinger. But that cloud convergence plan was scuttled to help placate angry VMware stockholders.

During VMware’s most recent earnings call, Gelsinger said that vCloud Air’s focus was being narrowed—although no one seemed to know quite what that means. (The VMware spokesman said vCloud Air will now target specific disaster recovery and data center extension jobs.)

Initially dubbed vCloud Hybrid Services, vCloud Air launched three years ago as VMware’s response to Amazon (AMZN) Web Services, the public cloud computing juggernaut.

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A public cloud comprises a network of data centers running massive arrays of servers, storage and networking—all owned and operated by one company. Customers can rent out computing power and storage on that shared infrastructure and just pay for what they use when they use it.

Public cloud is seen as an affordable and flexible alternative to building more customer-owned data centers. Amazon’s cloud growth has been explosive, forcing legacy IT companies—including VMware, IBM (IBM), Oracle (ORCL), and Microsoft (MSFT)—to react. VMware was (and is) relying on third-party service providers like telephone companies to run its software and provide a counterweight to AWS.

Very few of even the biggest traditional IT companies can field the sorts of resources that Amazon (or Microsoft or Google (GOOG) do which is why the rest of the providers are seen as tier two players. Thus far, then vCloud Air sales have disappointed if you ask anyone outside the VMware executive staff.


This story was updated at 3:24 p.m. EDT to add VMware’s official comments.