Breaking Analysis: Rick Jackson a “Great CMO” for VMware, Steps Down. We Look Back on His Vision

According to our sources VMware’s Rick Jackson is stepping down from his current position as chief marketing officer. He will continue to serve as the virtualization giant’s CMO until a replacement is found.

An earlier report from TechCrunch stated that VMware’s Jackson will continue to work for the company as senior vice president of global enablement. Word has it (from Techcrunch report) that the executive was bumped out of the C-level club because he recently moved to Austin, Texas, and CEO Pat Gelsinger wanted a CMO that’s 10 feet down the hall.”  VMware is headquartered in Palo Alto, California.

“Rick Jackson was a great CMO of VMware who understood the value of the VMware brand and how it translated into one of the biggest brands with the most active and loyal communities.  Those communities were the foundation for partners, customers, and developers,” said John Furrier, SiliconAngle’s founding CEO.

Breaking Analysis


Our own SiliconANGLE’s production show, theCube, had the chance to talk to Jackson at the last three VMworld conferences.  According to SiliconAngle’s John Furrier VMware is realigning resources in preparation for the Pivotal Initiative spin out which will shift the application developer centric folks into a separate company.  Although we can’t confirm this was the reason for Jackson’s change, we have confirmed many former “old school” VMware top executives are leaving.  Pat Gelsinger, a Cube Alum, is leading the VMware ship, and he has his eye on the prize for the software datacenter.

VMware is in a massive transition in a good way.  Its business just a few years ago was virtualization centric around the “hypervisor.”  Now that is flipped around where Pat Gelsinger wants to make the “hypervisor” a commodity.   The software and business model rework around incorporating virtualization into computer architecture and network design is the top VMware priority.  Some of Paul Maritz’s bets didn’t pan out, so VMware is focusing on specific parts of the stack.  Those parts of the stack include data fabric and below encompassing the software-led infrastructure.  VMware believes that this will give it a competitive advantage in the software-defined datacenter.  VMware’s recent move to get out of the app business is a sign that they are giving up on the application layer and focusing on infrastructure software around virtualization and orchestration.  Translation: for VMware it’s about cloud and datacenter infrastructure.

According to Furrier, this move is only about one big thing VMware not letting Amazon Web Services get into the enterprise (and other cloud infrastructure players).  Furrier continues by adding that “AWS can be the this generations what “Intel” was for PC consumer and business applications and Pat Gelsinger knows how that game is played.

Much of the VMware reorganization is a restart in company’s virtualization mission to extend to being infrastructure-centric as an enabling platform.  VMware wants to be the brand and company supplying to the software-datacenter from enterprise scale to consumer hyperscale.  This Pat Gelsinger mission is more about infrastructure software vs application software.

VMware’s new positioning will make it possible for the virtualization company to compete in a converging commercial and open source world where customers want VMware’s mission critical hyperscale expertise and credibility.

Rick Jackson’s Journey


In 2010, when big data wasn’t yet a buzzword and the cloud was the center of attention, Jackson discussed VMware’s “virtualization journey”: the on-demand model, competition, and how the cloud blows traditional architectures out of the water.

Fast forward two years to VMworld 2012, Jackson’s topic of choice was the software defined data center. The executive offered his take on the abstraction of IT infrastructure and its positive impact operations, and also went into detail about what his company is doing to stay ahead of the market.

Our research team at Wikibon’s recently published a very insightful piece on the simplification of the datacenter that Jackson outlined last year.  It was David Floyer’s take that VMware’s future hinges on its portfolio of high level management solutions.  See Floyer’s full analysis below.


{Update:  Techcrunch originally reported the story, SiliconANGLE confirmed and added John Furrier’s Breaking Analysis to what is happening at VMware}