News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

VMware pros abuzz over CTO Steve Herrod’s departure

VMware CTO Steve Herrod’s departure has customers, partners and analysts wondering what will come next for the company.

FOXBORO, Mass. – Yet another major VMware executive has exited the company, leaving customers to wonder how all of the recent leadership changes will impact the virtualization giant’s technology strategy.

VMware CTO Steve Herrod announced this week that he is leaving the company. Herrod had been with VMware for 11 years and oversaw research and development before becoming CTO. He was a consistent public voice for VMware amid executive upheaval last year that included the departure of CEO Paul Maritz, who was replaced by former EMC executive Pat Gelsinger in July, as well as the departure of CFO Mark Peek in April and CIO Mark Egan in December.

VMware customers attending the Virtualization Technology User Group (VTUG) at Gillette Stadium this week were surprised by VMware’s latest loss.

“They’re kind of screwed for a while,” said one VTUG attendee, who requested anonymity. “They have to figure out what to do.”

VMware’s image as a hip up-and-comer is long gone, and Herrod leaving put a seal on that for some customers and analysts.

“It could be that VMware at this point is stable, and where [Herrod] feels it needs to be,” said Leonor Martins, systems and networks manager for Wellesley College. “It seems like he is a creative person and I’m guessing he needs something new at this point.”

With all of last year’s intrigue surrounding EMC and VMware executive changes, which led to the Pivotal Initiative, a spinoff focused on cloud computing and application development, one channel partner at the VTUG wondered if Herrod’s departure wasn’t “EMC pushing people around.”

With so many of VMware’s A-players out the door, it is up to Gelsinger to stop the VMware brain drain, VMware customers say.

 The engineers who are left looked up to Herrod and it will be interesting to see what they do now that he’s gone, said Mark Bowker, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group based in Milford, Mass.

In addition, Herrod was a strong voice working with VMware’s largest accounts at a time when VMware’s vSphere faced its most heated competition yet from Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012, analysts say.

“It’s a tough time for him to leave,” said Chris Wolf, research VP at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, Inc. “Pat Gelsinger will do a good job, but the CTO role is very important at VMware.”

In the short term, this won’t have much of an effect on the company, but long term, the company must act decisively to replace Herrod.

“They need a strong voice to counteract Microsoft,” Wolf said.

Herrod announced via a VMware blog post Wednesday afternoon that he will become managing director at General Catalyst Partners, a venture capital firm jointly based in Cambridge, Mass. and Palo Alto, Calif. He will continue to serve as a “technical advisor” to VMware.

Meanwhile, several startups have  popped up in recent years with former VMware execs at the helm, such as HotLink Corp. and CloudPhysics.

“These guys are all engineers who love to innovate,” said Chris Harney, a virtualization consultant and the organizer of the VTUG. “VMware needs to start focusing again on users and products.”

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for and Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

Dig Deeper on VMware virtualization

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Will Herrod’s departure negatively affect VMware in the long term?
VMware need a guy at the helm who will gamble on decreasing the cost of VMware products to counter Microsoft before it is too late!. For example one licensing scheme for vSphere with all Enterprise features.

Better to sell more apples at a lower cost than sell no apples at all.

Needs to happen now as customers weigh up renewing licenses or go Windows Server 2012!

However Microsoft is somewhat screwed, because if they take a lot of VMware market share and severely weaken them, it will make them a prime acquisition target for Apple or Google who will then finish MS off once and for all.
VMware is facing some serious issues. Their paas story is nowhere, their saas story isn't much better and their qa is terrible. vsphere 5.1 SSO has been a complete cluster**** and so have other new 5.1 features like the replication they added to compete with hyperv. It's flakey and very buggy.

Windows server 2012/system center 2012 and hyper-v is a beast and now another exec walks out the door. Not just any exec, but their cto. This is really bad news for them.
he was the creative brain of R&D and one of the last C-level managers from the real old VMware leadership team
VMw has had a really bad last couple of years. They’ve tried to jump into new markets and rested on their laurels and now they’re playing catch up. IMHO, the memory tax was a fiasco and the beginning of the end. I remember we did a cost analysis and our licensing costs we’re going to go up over 400%. My company put a complete stop to vmw deployment right then and there. No more and it was the best decision ever. We have all you can eat MS licensing and can deploy all the win 2012 hyper-v with unlimited windows server guests. With the money saved, we bought two new racks of servers and storage and are filling it with hyepr-v.
In the meantime we’ve watched as vmw has steady quality control issues and they rush to add features to keep up with the Jones. (just look at single sign on) Now their cto is exiting. Does anyone really believe he’d be leaving if he thought vmw had a bright shining future filled with growth? Sell your vmw stock now.
no one thing can stop this run away train
He has been with VMware for 11 years almost facing every couteracts with the competitors, and his presence will help VMware to continue the same in future. VMware laid a very strong platform will keep growing in fuuture, but with loss of Herrod the faster growth will experience a little bit fluctuation , will get saturated though :-))))))
VMware is a team. Team is a brainstorm. The last leads to great technologies and innovations. Every man from VMware makes small or big job. They are the power together !!!
Gelsinger is a season engineering manager and will keep things movign forward. Competition is breeds innovation
He was the light of the futur ...