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Paul Maritz, President and CEO, VMware

Paul Maritz, president and CEO of VMware, sailed into a minefield in 2008 that could have sidetracked his company. But Maritz' cool hand at the helm kept VMware going as one of the most important vendor partners to the channel and made him one of the Top 25 people impacting the channel this year.

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First, he was brought in to replace former President and CEO Diane Greene who, with her husband, had co-founded the server virtualization giant.

That required smoothing a lot of ruffled feathers with solution providers and with VMware personnel who were shocked and surprised at the way Greene was dumped without notice in July by EMC CEO and VMware Chairman Joe Tucci for lack of "operational experience."

One month later, he also had to deal with VMware's first software bug, one that was caused when a command to automatically expire the license of the beta version of a new release of its ESX application on a certain date was not deleted when the final code of that release was shipped.

Maritz also joined VMware at a time it faced its first serious challenge from another server virtualization vendor, Microsoft, which launched its rival Hyper-V technology earlier than expected and in the process had pundits and press alike foretelling doom for his company.

Maritz, who prior to taking the reins at VMware was president of EMC's Cloud Division after a stint as a high-ranking Microsoft executive, has kept his company's keel even as the waters surrounding him roiled with factors beyond his control.

As a result, VMware continues to be an important part of the solution mix in the channel as solution providers move beyond simple server virtualization into building part or all of their customers' IT server, desktop, and storage infrastructures using the technology.

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