Paul Maritz’s consumerization legacy

When Paul Maritz took over as CEO, VMware was the dominant player in the server virtualization market, and that was pretty much it.

When Paul Maritz took over as CEO, VMware was the dominant player in the server virtualization market, and that was pretty much it.

Fast forward to today, four years later, as CRN reports that Maritz is out as CEO. VMware is still the dominant player in the server virtualization market. It has also built a fairly substantial cloud computing business. And it is one of the few major tech vendors that truly gets what the consumerization of IT is all about.

In a few years, when we look back at Maritz’s tenure at VMware CEO, we’ll see these efforts -- Horizon Application Manager, Octopus, AppBlast, etc. -- as a significant part of his legacy. Most of these products are new, and some aren’t even out yet, but from day one, Maritz made it a priority to rethink the way we secure, manage and deploy applications to various endpoints. At VMworld 2008, Maritz’s coming out party, he talked about the need to deconstruct the traditional operating system.

“It is something that has to happen to address changing application needs,” he said.

That doesn’t sound revolutionary now, but back then it was super forward-thinking. Application needs weren’t really changing at the time of VMworld 2008. Everyone in the business world had Windows PCs, BlackBerry still ruled the mobile roost -- it had email; what other applications would you want? -- and Apple’s App Store was just a month old.

At the time, if you thought Maritz’s comments were nothing more than shots at Microsoft, VMware’s rival and his former employer, you weren’t alone. Over time, however, VMware developed several new products to back up Maritz’s talk.

Horizon Application Manager lets IT deliver cloud, mobile and even virtualized Windows apps to PCs and mobile devices, aligning with policies to control who can access which apps from which endpoints. AppBlast promises to make any application available via HTML5. And Octopus is designed to provide secure file syncing and sharing across multiple devices.

Sure, there have been missteps along the way. Acquiring the Zimbra email platform and Sliderocket, a PowerPoint competitor, didn’t make much sense at the time. It still doesn’t now. VMware is better off focusing on application delivery and management, not selling its own applications. Then there’s the whole mobile virtualization thing: VMware started talking about it four years ago and still hasn’t released a product, and when a product does come out, there’s a decent chance nobody will use it.

But overall, Maritz had the foresight to realize that cloud services and mobile devices would reduce our dependency on Windows. And because of that foresight, VMware is now positioned to capitalize.


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