VMware CEO fields questions at VMworld 2008

VMware's new CEO Paul Maritz held at least two question-and-answer sessions following his keynote at VMworld 2008, concerning the climate at VMware, the ESX Update 2 bug, and competition from Microsoft.

LAS VEGAS -- In addition to delivering a keynote address and holding a question-and-answer session for executives at VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas this week, VMware Inc.'s new CEO Paul Maritz made himself available for a private question-and-answer session with the press on Sept. 16.

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At ease by the end of the day, sans tie and with shirt sleeves rolled up, Maritz was ready to answer questions about the company that has put him in the driver's seat including questions about the bug in ESX 3.5 Update 2 that angered users in August, the climate at the company after co-founder, Diane Greene was abruptly ousted and replaced by Maritz, and competing with Microsoft.

Maritz eased into the session by talking about what seems to be his favorite subject, cloud computing, and touched on VMware's vCloud technology. He also made mention of the new Virtual Data Center OS and VMware's initiative to virtualize desktops and thin-client computers, called vClient, before entertaining reporter questions.

Anytime you go through a leadership change you experience angst.
Paul Maritz,
CEOVMware Inc.

Of course, the first question concerned the environment at VMware since the departure of former CEO Diane Greene. Maritz said employees were concerned mainly about change and where the company is headed with him at the helm.

"Anytime you go through a leadership change you experience angst, but there are people here doing work that will make real changes in the future. . . . I am hoping we can retain the talent that we have and attract new talent," Maritz said. "People wanted to know about the future of the company, and I tried to deliver that information this morning." He added, "the angst will be a passing phenomenon."

During his keynote, Maritz talked about deconstructing the operating system to better deliver applications, and one reporter asked whether VMware's Virtual Data Center Operating System and ideas about deconstructing OSes is designed to threaten Microsoft.

"It is not a direct threat, but an indirect one," Maritz said. "[Deconstructing the OS] is also not an idea that we have cooked up on our own. It is something that has to happen to address changing application needs," Maritz said. "You have to have a sophisticated view on this, but of course, when you have the most to lose [i.e., Microsoft], you tend to be the most conservative."

Maritz also addressed the ESX bug that caused problems and concern for users.

Because of a bug in ESX 3.5 Update 2 that caused the ESX/ESXi 3.5 Update 2 product license to expire on Aug. 12, users who shut down their machines on Aug. 11 received an error message that read, "A General System error occurred: Internal error" when they tried to re-start their virtual machines (VMs) or live-migrate VMs running on ESX 3.5 Update 2 servers on Aug. 12.

Maritz said it was a problem that should never have happened, and VMware addressed the issue by removing any and all time limits in its software.

And no interview with Maritz would be complete without giving the former Microsoft employee a chance to bash that company. Colin Steele, a reporter at TechTarget site SearchITChannel.com, told Maritz he received a poker chip/marketing message from Microsoft about the high cost of VMware while walking into the VMworld conference on Monday.

Maritz laughed, and said he is flattered. "The fact that Microsoft is giving out tchotchkes to our users is flattering. It is the act of someone in far second."

Maritz recalled that during his time at Microsoft, he helped organize a guerrilla marketing campaign during a Novell conference in Las Vegas. They had Microsoft pillow covers placed in every hotel bed in the city, so ideally, when Novell execs went to bed at night, Microsoft is what they saw.

For more on the VMworld 2008 conference, check out our VMworld 2008 conference page.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer. And check out our Server Virtualization blog .

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