VMware CEO Gelsinger Interrupts VMworld Demo, Announces CTO Swap

Greg Lavender will become VMware's CTO as Ray O'Farrell transitions to lead the company's ‘cloud-native efforts.’

VMware CTO Ray O'Farrell and Greg Lavender, CTO of Cloud Architecture, were in the middle of a discussion on virtual networking on the keynote stage of the VMworld conference Tuesday when an attendee in the front row interrupted them.

Pat Gelsinger, the virtualization giant's CEO, jumped on stage, shouting, "hey, hey, Ray, one more thing."

First, Gelsinger actually modeled a T-shirt of a mock company VMware presenters used during demos that morning. Then he segued into a surprise announcement affecting the careers of both men on stage.

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"You've heard us say how important Kubernetes is to us, the Tanzu strategy that was laid out, the Pivotal merger that we're working on aggressively," Gelsinger said, "and I couldn’t think of a better, more-capable leader to bring these capabilities than our 16-year veteran, having done products, and code, and now CTO for 5 years. It's my pleasure to announce Ray O'Farrell as the leader of our cloud-native efforts going forward."

O'Farrell will keep the title of executive vice president as he assumes the new role, VMware told CRN.

After Gelsinger shared the news, he turned to O'Farrell: "Ray, I've got a problem. I ain't got a CTO anymore."

Then Gelsinger turned the other way to Lavender.

"It's my pleasure to introduce the new CTO of VMware, a friend for many, many years, academic at UT Austin, a longtime product guy at Cisco and Sun, user at CITI, now part of the VMware family, Greg Lavender," Gelsinger said.

O'Farrell was elevated to the CTO position in 2015 after 12 years with the company as part of VMware's at the time nascent efforts to build out modern capabilities like DevOps and containers increasingly favored by developers. He replaced Ben Fathi.

Before that, he led development of VMware's server virtualization and cloud infrastructure products as senior vice president and general manager of the Software-Defined Data Center unit.