VMware Sends Maritz Into The Cloud Wars With Software

| About: VMware, Inc. (VMW)
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Former VMware (NYSE:VMW) CEO Paul Maritz, who famously moved back to parent EMC (EMC) as a "chief strategist," is being spun out again, this time into a new unit specializing in cloud software.

Gigaom says the mix of technologies being put into the new unit - it includes the Cloud Foundry Platform, Springsource middleware, Green Plum data analytics and Pivotal Labs agile development - could create a competitor to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

While Maritz serves enormous praise for what he did with VMware, this move really demonstrates VMware's weakness in the new transition to cloud. The company does have the leading virtualization platform but a true cloud needs more. It needs infrastructure and tools for creating applications and handling big data.

A lot more has to be done before the company is ready for an announcement and a formal product launch. Forbes figures it will all come together in the second quarter of next year. Is the market ready to wait?

Contrast the wheel-spinning being done at VMW with what Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) is doing. I recently discussed this with Red Hat senior director Bryan Che, and he described the OpenShift platform as a way to extend existing Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers into whatever cloud infrastructure they prefer - whether the OpenStack system Red Hat is supporting or something else.

Control by a single vendor puts you at the mercy of the entity controlling the technology," he explained. "You should have the ability to influence the direction of the technology. Source code isn't enough. You need a viable and independent community around the source code to assure your interests are met."

Cloud Foundry has been portrayed as an open source project, but VMware has limited credibility in that community, so it's being combined with other assets, a key man, and lots of big talk about competing with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).

But software isn't a scaled public cloud. Software is just a tool for building a scaled public cloud. Is Maritz going to be coming to the markets for capital so he can build a scaled public cloud? Or is VMware going to remain a software vendor?

Investors are left confused. I much prefer the Red Hat roadmap here.

Disclosure: I am long RHT. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.