Sanjay Poonen, The Face Of SAP's Mobile Division, Just Took On One Of VMware's Toughest Jobs

Sanjay Poonen has left his role as head of SAP’s mobility division to lead VMware’s End-User Computing unit, VMware announced today.

He’s replacing Boaz Chalamish, Poonen told Business Insider, and taking on a tough job at a VMware unit that’s been spitting out executives like watermelon seeds.

Poonen had been with SAP since 2006, according to his LinkedIn profile, and was best known as the face of SAP’s mobile division, one of SAP’s big growth areas. He was leading SAP’s ambitious goal to reach 1 billion mobile users by 2015.

Now, at VMware, he’s got an equally daunting task: To convince IT professionals to use VMware’s “desktop virtualization” software. This let’s any device run Windows and corporate apps over a network connection, rather than as software installed on the device.

VMware competes with Citrix in this area and has been struggling to find the right executive to lead the charge. In 2012 it acquired a company called Wanova for an undisclosed sum. Wanova’s tech became a new desktop product called Horizon launched earlier this year.

The CEO of Wanova, Sebastiano Tevarotto, lead the End-User Computing unit for a mere 10 months leaving in March, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He was replaced by Chalamish, who was replaced by Poonen five months later. Chalamish had been with VMware since 2009 and is leaving VMware to become a venture capitalist funding Israeli companies, TechTarget’s Colin Steele reported in a tweet.

In an email with Business Insider, Poonen told us he was “very excited … I see a huge opportunity to help extend the great brand of VMware from the data center to the desktop.” Plus, he joked, “the best part is my commute doesn’t change.” (VMware’s parking lot is across the street from the Palo Alto SAP office.)

There’s a lot of churn going on among VMware’s execs since VMware’s new CEO, Pat Gelsinger, stepped in a year ago.

Besides Chalamish, other recent departures include early employee Jerry Chen, who left his job as vice president of Cloud and Application Services to become a VC at Greylock Partners; Mike Clayville, former vice president of marketing for VMware’s cloud who left to help Amazon build a new enterprise sales staff as vice president of worldwide commercial sales; and Tod Nielsen who had been leading VMware’s platform-as-a-service cloud Cloud Foundry who became CEO of Heroku, the direct competitor.

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