The cloud has changed the world, so we take a look at ten of the people who were most responsible for making, and changing, the cloud.

In alphabetical order:

This article appeared in the October issue of DatacenterDynamics magazine.


Tim Bell


At the European science lab CERN, Tim Bell has used an OpenStack cloud to help push the frontiers of knowledge, sharing and processing the information from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). CERN’s experiments create more than 1Pbyte per second, in the form of images of particle collisions. CERN archives some 27Pbytes per year. Bell has been a leading user on the OpenStack board, publishing a blog outlining CERN’s progress and sharing experiences. The CERN cloud now extends beyond CERN’s Geneva home to a second site in Budapest, Hungary.



Pat Gelsinger

VMware (Dell Technologies)

The current CEO of VMware – and the third VMware CEO in this list – Pat Gelsinger currently has the responsibility of steering the cloud infrastructure firm under its new arm’s-length owner, Dell. He became VMware CEO in 2012, and has presided over dominance in virtual infrastructure. Before joining EMC in 2009, he spent nine years as Intel’s first CTO, and founded the very successful Intel Developer Forum.



Diane Greene


In 1998, Diane Greene co-founded VMware, the company that popularized server virtualization and arguably made the cloud possible. VMware was bought by EMC in 2004, and Greene moved on in 2008. Since 2012, she has been on Google’s board, and in 2015 became Google’s vice president of cloud when Google bought her startup, Bebop. Under her leadership, she says Google’s cloud services will compete with Amazon’s and persuade enterprises and cloud firms to ditch their own data centers by partnering on technology.



Marc Jones

IBM SoftLayer

As CTO of IBM’s SoftLayer cloud business, it’s Marc Jones’s job to create cloud products and services that compete with established players such as Amazon Web Services and challengers like Google. SoftLayer mostly provided bare metal cloud services before being bought by IBM in 2014. Since then, IBM has invested in more data centers to boost its global services. Before joining SoftLayer, Jones was director of software product development for Rackspace’s cloud division.



Chris Kemp

OpenStack co-founder

As CTO of NASA, Chris Kemp helped start OpenStack, the open-source cloud platform that was originally a joint venture between the US space agency and Rackspace. OpenStack’s trajectory has been ballistic, and Kemp went on to found Nebula, the first OpenStack cloud company. It’s not all been plain sailing, though: when Kemp left, NASA abandoned OpenStack for Amazon Web Services. And Nebula closed when it became clear that large companies will lead the way on OpenStack.



Paul Maritz

Ex-Microsoft, EMC, Pivotal

A computer scientist, Paul Maritz worked at Intel for five years, before moving to Microsoft, where he became head of platform strategy in 2000. After a spell running a Linux company, he was “acqui-hired” into EMC, where he became head of VMware from 2008 to 2012. From 2013 to 2015, he ran Pivotal, EMC’s open-source cloud platform. He’s now on the board of Mifos, a body that aims to help developing nations by delivering open-source financial services to the world’s poor.



Boris Renski


Boris Renski is a co-founder of the leading independent OpenStack cloud service provider, Mirantis. After running a Russian software consultancy, Renski started Mirantis with entrepreneur Alex Freedland, with the intention of commercializing OpenStack. While other OpenStack providers have stumbled, Mirantis has found its niche providing customized versions of the open-source cloud platform, designed for vertical markets. Renski is currently CMO at Mirantis.



Mike Russinovich

Microsoft Azure CTO

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud operating system, and Mike Russinovich is its CTO. But his path to that role has not been direct. In the 1970s, he was a high school hacker and went on to a career of scrutinizing Microsoft operating systems, publishing tips and revelations on the site (he also discovered the Sony rootkit). In 2006 he turned gamekeeper when Microsoft bought his company, Winternals, and made him CTO of its cloud operating system.



Werner Vogels


Werner Vogels was one of the of instigators of Amazon Web Services and is now CTO and vice president at Amazon. He joined Amazon from his role as a research scientist at Cornell University, where he launched All Things Distributed, a blog about “building scalable and robust distributed systems”, pretty much a definition of the cloud. He still maintains that blog, while driving the continued dominance of AWS in the cloud.



Haiying Wang


Cloud computing is a major part of Huawei’s expansion plans, and these are based around the OpenStack platform. As cloud CTO, Haiying Wang had a major part in formulating this strategy. He says that his ambition is to “make OpenStack the standards cloud OS”. In the past year, he has moved to LinkedIn.