Paul Maritz Named Visionary CEO by

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Dec 2, 2010

Being a CEO is never easy, and being a CEO in a struggling economic climate, such as the current one, is even more so. Each year holds the CEO Vision Awards, soliciting nominations for the 10 tech CEOs who have exhibited extraordinary foresight and leadership in bringing important new products and services to market or have moved the industry forward with new technology initiatives. chose VMware CEO Paul Maritz to receive a 2010 CEO Vision Award. The leader of the virtualization king pin was selected for his leadership in continuing to push the technology's value proposition forward.

With virtualization finding its way into nearly every server room, it's not surprising that the CEO of a virtualization company would make the cut. Equally unsurprising is that VMware CEO Paul Maritz received an award for the second year running.

Mention x86 virtualization, and it would be hard not to follow the phrase with "VMware," referring to either the vendor or its myriad product offerings. VMware first pioneered x86 virtualization for workstations in 1998. In 2001, it brought its virtualization technology to servers, partnered with IBM, Dell, Compaq and HP, and hasn't looked back, even in the face of daunting competitors.

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When Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) brought out Hyper-V in the spring of 2008, pundits and developers alike came close to preparing eulogies for VMware. It was in that doom and gloom atmosphere that Paul Maritz took the helm in July 2008, replacing VMware co-founder Diane Greene.

But in fact, VMware held fast to its lead, due chiefly to Maritz's leadership. The impressive road map for the company Maritz laid out early in his tenure at its flagship trade show VMworld in 2008, demonstrated great vision on his part. The foresight to see that the hypervisor and virtualization itself was not enough to fend off Microsoft and other competitors has been a key to the company's continued success. (Indeed, by a pure hypervisor deployment yardstick, Microsoft leads VMware.) Even more important than that, however, has been the company's ability to execute and deliver on its vision in a way that kept VMware's software, certifications, and other offerings a first choice of enterprise data centers.

CEO Vision Awards advisory board member Charles King of Pund-IT credits Maritz with keeping VMware at or near the center of virtually every serious cloud computing discussion, launching VMforce and numerous other initiatives, and continuing to execute on new partner forces like the VCE coalition. King adds that it's important to also note what didn't happen to VMware in 2010. "Contrary to conventional wisdom," he said, "VMware was not crushed or even appreciably slowed by major and able competitors, including Microsoft and Citrix."

In fact, VMware has thrived. In the past year, Maritz oversaw the acquisition of Zimbra from Yahoo and subsequent integration into VMware's product line; numerous cloud computing initiatives; various other acquisitions to fill resource gaps in the company's portfolio, multiple product refreshes, and deep partnering with the likes of Google, Cisco and NetApp.

At this past summer's VMworld 2010, attended by a record-breaking 17,000 attendees, Maritz unveiled the company's strategy for the "next era of information technology." Six weeks later, at the European counterpart, VMware began implementing this vision as Maritz unveiled an updated cloud infrastructure strategy with enhancements to vCloud and vCenter.

Despite this seemingly high-end focus, VMware is not focused on large enterprises alone. A number of programs designed to make virtualization simpler for SMBs were launched in 2010. This has been a smart move, given many expected that market segment to be Hyper-V's sweet spot. Also, while Hyper-V usage stats show it has overtaken VMware Server, here too, VMware must look beyond the hypervisor, as Hyper-V's inclusion in Windows Server 2008 skews the playing field.

Maritz' focus on paid product, however, has paid off -- in spades. Third-quarter 2010 revenue for VMware was $714 million, an increase of 46 percent compared to the third-quarter of 2009. In addition, for the trailing 12 months ended September 30, 2010, operating cash flows were $1.1 billion, an increase of 8 percent from the same period a year ago. VMware is projecting fourth-quarter revenue to be between $790 and $810 million, an increase of 30 percent to 33 percent compared to 2009.

This year, Maritz joins Steve Jobs, John Chambers and Larry Ellison, as a repeat winner of the CEO Vision Awards.

Amy Newman is the senior managing editor of's server vertical. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in 2009.

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