NiciraMartin Casado, Chief Architect of Networking at VMwareIn the world of enterprise tech, some execs are more vital to a company’s success than others.
Execs in this upper echelon are exceedingly difficult to replace. If they left, their companies would face an uncertain, scary transitional period. It might take years for a company to recover.
Tech visionaries and engineering types are obviously represented in this list.
But some execs we chose based on other factors like leadership, experience and the company’s ability to withstand major changes at the moment.
We’ve identified nine execs whose companies would beg them to stay if they turned in their resignation letters. We’re not including startup founders, since their departures would, in many cases, make it tough for a company to continue getting funding.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
Year Joined: 2004
Why He'd Be Tough To Replace: He's a cloud visionary and a big reason why Amazon Web Services, which lets customers buy access to cloud servers, storage and apps, is such a roaring success.
Vogels is also an expert in getting cloud tech to scale to millions of users. He spent 10 years honing his skills as a research scientist in Cornell University's computer science department.
In Vogels' view, enterprises need to be more like startups and just dive into the cloud and start figuring it out.
'The key is to experiment often and fail quickly,' Vogels said at a tech event in London last April. 'In the past some of these experiments were very expensive, and often the budget associated with them was sufficient to kill any new idea. But in the cloud, these price tags have been reduced significantly.'
Amazon has plenty of cloud talent, but Vogels' brand of visionary thinking doesn't grow on trees.
Year Joined: 2012
Why He'd Be Tough To Replace: Casado was founder and CTO of Nicira, a startup that VMware paid $1.2 billion to acquire last year.
Nicira focused on software defined networking (SDN), a tech that turns the high-end features in network switches and routers into software that can run on cheap hardware.
SDN is a big threat to networking vendors like Cisco and Juniper. And Casado basically invented OpenFlow, the tech that makes SDN work.
He's holding one of the most important roles at VMware right now because VMware needs someone to explain to customers why SDN is something they can't live without.
Year Joined: 1977
Why He'd Be Tough To Replace: Ellison is probably the single most entertaining figure in enterprise IT, with his Tony Stark lifestyle and a fiery competitive streak that is shared by the salespeople who work for him.
Ellison is in it to win it--whether 'it' is enterprise software or the America's Cup sailing race.
He loves talking trash to tech rivals and has come up with some controversial (and funny) zingers over the years. He though 'cloud computing' was a dumb sounding term and wasn't afraid to say so.
Ellison will turn 69 in July and doesn't look ready to step down as CEO of Oracle anytime soon. While there are people at Oracle who'd be qualified to succeed him, none would bring the level of swagger to the position that Ellison has over the years.
Year Joined: 2011
Why She'd Be Tough To Replace: To say Whitman joined HP during a tumultuous time would be an understatement.
First, she had to assure people that HP wasn't selling its PC business. She was also saddled with the $11.1 billion Autonomy deal and had to figure out what to do with WebOS, which ended up being another botched acquisition.
The next year, Autonomy blew up into a full-fledged scandal, and Whitman had to deal with damage control from that. Then HP acknowledged the deal was a failure by writing down $8 billion from it. Then came another $8 billion write down from HP's $13.9 billion EDS deal in 2008.
Whitman has had a lot of fires to put out. She's pretty much handled them all. Just imagine HP with someone less experienced at the helm right now.
Year Joined: 1993
Why He'd Be Tough To Replace: He co-founded Nvidia and built it from maker of graphics chips for video games and high-end graphic design to a company that's poised to make an impact in enterprise tech and high-performance computing.
Under Huang's direction, companies like Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, Dell, Cisco, IBM and HP have inked partnerships with Nvidia to use its high performance computing tech, which makes enterprise computing faster.
Nvidia's tech also speeds up the performance of virtual desktops, where a company server delivers a worker's desktop to their laptop or mobile device while they're on the road.
Without Huang's vision, Nvidia's bid to tap into the enterprise market might lose its momentum.
Year Joined: 2012
Why He'd Be Tough To Replace: Last July when VMware announced it was switching CEOs, replacing Paul Maritz with EMC's Pat Gelsinger, everyone's first question was, what's Paul going to do next?
The answer came in December when Maritz was named CEO of Pivotal, an EMC-VMware joint venture that's marrying a cloud-based software development platform with big data tech, which can process huge amounts of information quickly to find useful trends inside it.
Maritz already led VMware from a promising startup to a major enterprise tech player. Now he's trying to pull off the same success at Pivotal.
Maritz was also at Microsoft for 14 years and was its lead witness in the Department Of Justice's antitrust case, so he's battle tested on many fronts. This isn't his first rodeo.
Year Joined: 1998
Why He'd Be Tough To Replace: Citrix, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has a great company culture.
It made GlassDoor's list of Top 50 Places To Work In 2013 and Templeton was ranked #12 on GlassDoor's CEO ranking, with a sparkling 95 per cent approval rating.
One reason why Citrix employees love Templeton is that he's in tune with letting employees work wherever they want. Since Citrix's tech is focused on delivering apps and data securely to remote users, this makes sense.
If Templeton were to leave and be replaced by a CEO with a different philosophy, that could have negative ramifications.
Year Joined: 2007
Why He'd Be Tough To Replace: Google hired Gundotra away from Microsoft, where he'd spent 15 years working with developers as a platform evangelist.
Before joining Google, he spent a year working with charities until his non-compete contract with Microsoft expired.
Since then, Gundotra has become one of Google's top visionaries, helping to drive Android and Google+ and also working with Google developers.
Given the growing rivalry between Microsoft and Google, Gundotra's insider knowledge would be tough for Google to replace.
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