VMware Partners Weigh In On New CEO: ‘Big Shoes To Fill’

‘They need to get somebody that understands the modern requirements for the organization: the agility, the cloud-first models, Kubernetes and containers,’ says Bob Keblusek, CTO of VMware partner Sentinel Technologies.


VMware channel partners are hopeful the $11.7 billion virtualization superstar will find a new leader that elevates VMware even further in a hybrid cloud world as CEO Pat Gelsinger leaves to head Intel.

“VMware has some big shoes to fill right now,” said Rob Steele, chief technology officer at Sanford, Fla.-based solution provider Skyhive. “They definitely have a deep bench through the whole Dell Technologies family. There’s a lot of room for growth. … There’s also a lot of new technologies and companies that VMware has accumulated over the past few years that could be the solution.”

VMware partners said the company could replace Gelsinger either externally or internally due to VMware being part of the Dell Technologies family which includes Dell, Dell EMC, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware.

Sponsored post

Additionally, VMware has acquired 13 companies since 2019 – from Kubernetes startup Heptio and AI network specialist Nyansa, to security market leader Carbon Black and Avi Networks for multi-cloud application services. Steele, who worked at Dell Technologies prior to Skyhive, said Dell Technologies has brought on some of the world’s most innovative IT executives who could take over the reins.

[Related: Michael Dell On VMware Spin-Off: ‘Nothing Changes’ With Gelsinger Leaving]

Bob Keblusek, chief technology officer at Sentinel Technologies, ranked No. 114 on CRN’s 2020 Solution Provider 500 list, said VMware should select a new CEO that can drive momentum around next-generation technologies and opportunities such as Kubernetes and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

“I think they need to get somebody that understands the modern requirements for the organization: the agility, the cloud-first models, Kubernetes and containers, SaaS,” said Keblusek. “If they can continue momentum some areas where Pat has shown some great leadership, they’ll be in pretty good shape because they have a really solid direction that they can continue to evolve. They don’t need to completely wipe everything out and move on.”

Looking internally, the top two executives at VMware under Gelsinger that partners said could potentially become the new CEO are Sanjay Poonen, chief operating officer, Customer Operations; and Ragu Raguram, chief operation officer, Product and Cloud Services.

Poonen has been with VMware for nearly eight years and is currently responsible for worldwide sales, marketing, services, support and alliances, as well as VMware’s security strategy and business.

Raguram joined VMware in 2003 and is responsible for all of VMware’s product and service offerings and centralized services, support and operational functions. He began his career at VMware running product management for vSphere and ESX.

The new CEO must have the goal of VMware becoming the dominant software player in hybrid cloud. VMware continues to double down on creating strong technology and go-to-market partnerships with the likes of public cloud leaders such as AWS and Microsoft Azure.

“There was a point in time when their traditional VMware product solution set had cloud as their biggest competitor, and they really turned it into an opportunity for growth rather than laying down saying the cloud is going to kill us. I credit a lot of that to what Pat’s done over the past few years,” said Keblusek.

“Looking across the Dell Technologies portfolio, there’s former EMC and current VMware leadership that have the skills to take VMware into the future, maybe even strengthen some of the things like the enterprise and security plays,” Keblusek said.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is also investing heavily in Kubernetes and security as VMware pushes to transform itself into a more subscription and SaaS company.

Skyhive’s Steele said Gelsinger is leaving VMware in great shape and isn’t too worried about VMware finding a new CEO.

“Pat’s created quite a bit of momentum. So unless somebody really messes up and slows that momentum down, I think the worst case scenario is VMware becomes stale,” said Steele. “What’s Pat done around momentum, whoever pops in as CEO, they have a pretty well-built ship to be steering on.”

VMware CFO Zane Rowe has been appointed interim CEO of VMware.

VMware’s global executive search process to name a permanent CEO is being led by Paul Sagan, who is the lead independent VMware board member and chair of the Compensation and Corporate Governance Committee.

“VMware’s business is in good hands with a proven, experienced management team, and the company’s strategic priorities are aligned with what enterprise customers require in these unprecedented times,” said Sagan in a statement.