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VMware SDN, cloud issues did not push Casado out

Jim Duffy | Feb. 26, 2016
A restless scientist just got a great offer, analysts say.

Martin Casado’s decision to leave VMware was simply a desire to move on and not an indication of turbulence with company strategy, direction or product traction, observers say.

Casado announced on Wednesday that he is leaving his post as executive vice president and general manager of VMware’s Networking and Security Business April 1 to become a general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Casado joined VMware in 2012 with its acquisition of Nicira, an SDN start-up Casado co-founded and Andreessen Horowitz funded.

Casado will be replaced by Rajiv Ramaswami, a former Broadcom and Cisco switching and cloud executive.

That Casado’s replacement was already tapped by the time he announced his plan to leave indicates that the transition was in the works for some time, and not a hasty retreat from a product area experiencing tepid market acceptance, analysts say. Casado said he’d been contemplating his departure for two years but waited until VMware's NSX network virtualization product -- which he oversaw -- established solid footing.

Also, Ramaswami is a known and respected executive in the networking industry. He would not have moved over to VMware from Broadcom if NSX was languishing in the market, analysts say.

“This is one of the more orderly and thoughtful transitions,” says Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa. “Rajiv is a seasoned executive able to scale the business. He knows the Layer 2/3 networking crowd and how VMware can leverage” that base.

“I think he left entirely of his own volition,” says IDC analyst Brad Casemore, who expected Casado to leave the company “long before now.”

“I was marveling that he's remained at VMware for so long,” Casemore says. “To his credit, he's done a solid job transitioning to a senior executive role in a company as large as VMware. I think his leadership will be missed particularly by the engineering and product teams he's built there. VMware will have to hold the team together in his absence."

NSX is currently on a $600 million annual run rate. VMware saw a threefold increase in the number of paying customers for its NSX network virtualization product from 2014 to 2015, to 1,200.

VMware is signing up between 44 and 48 NSX customers per month. SDN rival Cisco is enlisting about 82 customers per month for its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) product line.

VMware said it also saw a 5x increase in production NSX customers in 2015, to more than 250. And in Q4 of 2015, nine of the top 10 VMware deals included NSX, the company says.

Gartner’s Skorupa said Casado ascended rapidly from a doctoral student at Stanford in 2007, to Nicira co-founder and CTO, and then to a high-ranking executive in VMware in 2012. Casado is only 39.


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