Gelsinger: VMware 'adolescent who has grown too quickly'

The incoming CEO aims to instill more operational discipline and hopes company will not grow to become arrogant, and is gearing up for a stronger push into China.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO—Incoming VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger wants to bring more operational discipline to the company even as it seeks more growth, especially on the back of raising its global target market from US$30 billion to US$50 billion.

The extra potential addressable market has been opened up with the launch of its software-defined data centers this week at VMworld 2012, noted Gelsinger during a press briefing on Thursday.

On his company's existing strategy, he said he would not be changing it completely but would refine it after likening the company to an "adolescent who has grown up too quickly" due to its strong early growth.

"This is now a large company and [there are] so many aspects preventing us from growing," he said, adding that more operational discipline would be introduced to areas such as engineering, global operations, sales, and support capacity.

Stronger push to China
As for regional focus, the soon-to-be chief executive noted that Asia presented a "tremendous if not unlimited market in this social, cloud, mobile, data era".

One key market for VMware is China although there is still a bit of caution among Chinese companies in adopting virtualization, added David Sung, the company's president of Greater China, in a separate interview.

"But once they see the big companies and government-linked agencies such as the finance and telecom sectors take the lead, the adoption of virtualization will take off," Sung said, adding he forecast it would take China just one and a half years to catch up with Australia.

He expects a stronger focus on Asia now with Gelsinger taking over the reins from the outgoing Paul Maritz, saying he was impressed with Gelsinger's familiarity with the Chinese market after having visited China at least 27 times in his professional career.

Operational details will be an area of greater scrutiny going forward given the new head's experience as the COO at EMC previously, the China head said.

Software-defined data centers to be his legacy
Gelsinger shared that one of the things he hoped to achieve when his time at the helm of VMware is over is to see its vision for software-defined data centers move from a "baby step" to something of great significance.

He will not rush this through though, saying it was important to not only do the right things but do it in the right ways as well.  This include avoiding being a company with "arrogance"--an attitude very successful companies tend to develop, he observed based on his 30-plus years in the IT industry. 

Gelsinger also took the opportunity to laud Maritz on his work, saying he had set a high benchmark for his successors and gave him an "A-plus" rating. 

"If you think about it, that transition from founders to second generation of leaders is wrought with failures," Gelsinger said, referring to how Maritz had consistenly delivered above expectations since taking over from co-founder Diane Green in 2008.

Ryan Huang of ZDNet Asia reported from VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, United States.

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