Summary:

Verghese, who worked on such bread-and-butter VMware products as ESXi and the higher level management stack, is now VP of engineering at Illumio.

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Ben Verghese, a 12-year VMware veteran who was most recently chief management architect, has left for Illumio, a stealthy startup that’s attracted other talent including former Nicira VP of marketing Alan Cohen.

Illumio, according to its sparse web site, comprises:

” … veterans with deep experience in virtualization, networking and security hailing from industry leaders such as VMware, Cisco, Juniper and Nicira.  We have an inspiring mission: to tackle the biggest challenge holding back enterprise adoption of cloud computing.”

Verghese, a highly respected technologist, is the latest of a flow of senior VMware execs to fly the coop, one of the latest being Bogomil Balkansky, who joined VMware co-founder Diane Greene’s latest and very mysterious startup.

Early this month, Rick Jackson, VMware’s former CMO, assumed that same role Rackspace and Scott Musson, former director of global alliances, was named VP of Global Alliances at Red Hat. Other VMware refugees include Javier Soltero and Kevin Henrikson, who had focused on SpringSource and Zimbra respectively,  also left the building.

It’s not unusual for executives to leave a maturing company as it gets bigger, but there does seem to be a heavier-than-usual flow out of VMware after it spun off several businesses including SpringSource to new entity Pivotal, which is partially owned by VMware and parent EMC. And, as one former VMware exec who now heads his own startup put it privately: It’s hard for VMware to attract and retain top talent that is also being wooed by startups dangling rich option packages.

“Many people left to go build things that they could not build at VMware for reasons peculiar to the VMware-EMC relationship,” he said. “There is a natural stagnation when companies get that large. The reason this movie is a little different is the speed and number of people who have left in the last three years is staggering.”

This exec the VMware brain drain started further back with Hytrust — founded by a bunch of VMware alums in 2008 but picked up steam last year with the departure of CTO Stephen Herrod and others.

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