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By | Ashlee Vance 15th February 2006 05:50

XenSource clears mind of CEO

Ex-Veritas man steps in as new master

Start-up XenSource has experienced its first growing pains in the form of a CEO swap and a few layoffs.

The open source virtualization software maker has waved goodbye to Nick Gault and hired Veritas veteran Peter Levine as CEO and president. Levine gives XenSource some big software company experience, having served as marketing, OEM and M&A chief at Veritas. The rest of XenSource's upper management remains intact.

John Bara, the vice president of marketing at XenSource, declined to provide exact details on the nature of Gault's departure. "It was really a board level decision and about scaling to even grander heights than the company first envisioned." Loosely translated, we believe that means the venture capital folks behind XenSource wanted a veteran manager, but that's rampant speculation.

Gault founded management software company Network Physics and worked as a VP at Hummingbird Communications. XenSource said Gault "hasn't announced his plans" for what's next.

XenSource has been working hard to put the Xen virtualization software in customers' hands. The software helps slice up Linux servers to run multiple copies of the OS and applications on a single server. The technology is similar to that being offered by VMware, Microsoft, SWsoft and others.

As the main backer of the Xen project, XenSource has enjoyed all the benefits that follow open source upstarts. It's seen as a cheaper, faster alternative to market leader VMware and also-ran Microsoft. The larger rivals, however, can point to myriad customers using their software, and VMware has a host of complementary packages to sell around its ESX Server product. Meanwhile, XenSource has yet to name a customer and is just beginning to release management products that support Xen.

XenSource reckons the CEO switch along with some personnel shifts have put it in a position to build out its product portfolio. The company recently axed "a handful" of workers as part of "resource shifting" exercise around a "skill set build out." Clearly, the start-up has already mastered the marketing language of a massive enterprise software house.

These firings have nothing to do with XenSource's overall health though, Bara said. The company is hiring at fierce pace, particularly in Cambridge. So, have at it, lads.

“My goal is to extend XenSource’s position as the trusted leader in open source virtualization. The combination of next generation open source technology, the advent of hardware virtualization and an exploding growth market make XenSource a compelling opportunity”, said new chief Levine. ®

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