Paul Maritz is rumopured to be stepping down as chief executive of VMware after four years, to be replaced by Pat Gelsinger, president and chief operating officer (COO) at VMware's parent company EMC.

VMware has not confirmed the move, and there is no details about where Maritz will go next in the reports.

Other report speculate that VMware is planning to spin off some of its cloud assets. including its Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service division and EMC’s Greenplum assets. Maritz may be offered the chairmanship of the new company.

Martiz was a central figure at Microsoft between 1986 and 2000, where he ran the Platforms and Developer Group. He came to VMware by acquisition of his start-up Pi, which EMC acquired in 2008.

Commenting on the rumours, Ben Kepes, CEO and founder of analyst firm Diversity Limited, said Maritz’s departure is likely to be closely tied to VMware essentially ignoring the rise of cloud computing until very recently.

“They’ve continued to pursue their enterprise hypervisor business, and have made some interesting (if a little confusing) application acquisitions that, thus far, have proved to be uninspiring for the business.”

Kepes said that VMware’s traditional business is highly lucrative, but is being eroded by cloud companies such as Amazon. However, he warned that moving over to a pure cloud offering would likely be toxic to its high margin business.

“The entire organisation needs to see that they’re standing on a platform that, while possibly not burning, is at least smouldering slowly. The rate of change is increasing all the time and VMware risks being left irrelevant by changes that are bearing down on it,” he added.

More details are expected to be announced along with VMware's second-quarter earnings on 23 July.