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Diane Greene's VMware was 'anti-EMC,' exec says

BOSTON — EMC and VMware’s close relationship was on full display here at EMC World 2010 this week, as evidenced by the many announcements about VMware storage integration and other virtualization strategies.

Even though EMC has owned VMware since 2003, the two companies haven’t always been so buddy-buddy. Yesterday, an EMC executive said what many have suspected for a while: that EMC and VMware get along so well now because VMware co-founder Diane Greene isn’t in the picture anymore.

“It’s completely due to the change in leadership,” EMC senior vice president Dennis Hoffman told me in an interview.

EMC CEO (and VMware chairman) Joe Tucci fired Greene as VMware CEO in July 2008, citing her lack of “operational experience.” We learned a few months later that, according to the New York Times, it was an ugly scene: Tucci fired Greene in front of her husband, VMware co-founder Mendel Rosenblum, then turned and offered Greene’s seat on the board to Rosenblum (who declined).

Hoffman works with VMware a lot these days, as he’s EMC’s lead representative in the Virtual Computing Environment coalition with VMware and Cisco. He didn’t mention Greene — or her successor, Paul Maritz — by name during the interview. But he told me that before said leadership change, VMware had an “anti-EMC” attitude.

“There were folks around EMC that felt it was a very disadvantageous situation,” he said.

Maritz, a former longtime Microsoft exec, was running EMC’s cloud computing business before Tucci tapped him to replace Greene. Since then, “we’re getting closer, and we all certainly feel that,” Hoffman said. “It’s easy to be close when you share the same vision.”

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Hello Colin, In Silicon Valley, the story you wrote has long been common knowledge. The founding management team of VMware wanted freedom to do things, particularly in the area of storage, that were in conflict with EMC's desires. It was perhaps naive of VMware's previous management to think they could sell the company to EMC, but not be controlled by it. When EMC's interests run counter to those of VMware, guess who wins? VMware's innovativeness in the realm of storage has surely been reduced by conflicts with its owner. That is inevitable when a storage company owns a system software platform company. If VMware wasn't not owned by EMC, its stance on storage would be different. Buying VMware has been enormously good for EMC. What about the converse? Is VMware better off because EMC bought them? In some ways it has been a tremendous boon. But in other ways, VMware is limited by its owner. Mark Davis Virsto Software [A href=""]