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Pivotal CEO Maritz wants to disrupt Amazon’s cloud computing disruption

Paul Maritz, the CEO of Pivotal
Paul Maritz, the CEO of Pivotal

As the era of cloud computing begins, Paul Maritz, CEO of Pivotal, wants to see a more open outcome than the information technology industry is used to. In fact, he’s betting on it.

Pivotal, a spinoff from EMC (EMC) and VMWare (VMW), where Maritz served as CEO for four years, is building an open cloud computing platform that can run on top of many kinds of underlying cloud servers.

“We’re coming to the end of a 30- or 40-year era in the IT industry,” Martiz said on Wednesday, speaking at the Oasis Montgomery Summit in Santa Monica, California. “This really is a very profound shift that’s happening.”

That may not be what the biggest cloud providers, Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG) and particularly Amazon (AMZN), are seeking. They’re battling for dominance comparable to Windows on the PC or IBM (IBM) in mainframes, Maritz says.

Dominant platforms

Maritz knows all about dominant IT platforms. He spent 14 years at Microsoft, where he helped develop Windows 95 and Windows NT. Later, he helped run over Netscape’s Internet browser with Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer.

Pivotal is focusing on open standards, creating cloud-based software that companies could run on any of the major players’ cloud servers. Maritz says Pivotal aims to be the Linux of the cloud.

“It’s not going to be a world with just a handful of providers,” he argues. “This is not about a kabal of people who are going to sit at home and build walled gardens.”

Amazon still dominates in the pure cloud platform market, with about a 30% market share in the fourth quarter, according to Synergy Research. That’s more than Microsoft, Google and IBM combined, the market research firm said.

In addition to furthering open standards, part of Pivotal’s strategy is to create new, faster ways for large companies to manage and analyze massive amounts of data. General Electric (GE) invested $105 million in Pivotal last year to support the effort.

Martiz declined to talk about Microsoft’s recent CEO hunt, which ended in the appointment of 22-year company veteran Satya Nadella. Maritz was rumored to be a top candidate for the post. “I’ll take the fifth on that one,” he told the conference.

There was also no discussion of Pivotal going public in the future. EMC CEO Joe Tucci has said Pivotal will follow a similar path as VMWare, which was partially spun off in a billion dollar IPO in 2007. The website Venturebeat put the odds of a Pivotal IPO at 80% for 2014.