back to article VMware customers have watched Broadcom's acquisitions and don't like what they see

VMware customers have seen companies acquired by Broadcom Software emerge with lower profiles, slower innovation, and higher prices - a combination that makes them nervous about the virtualization giant’s future. The Register offers that assessment after spending the day at a VMware user group conference in Melbourne, …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    EMC, Dell and Broadcom - one of these does not go with the rest

    IIRC, EMC was a data management company. It got bought by Dell, which is, of course, primarily a hardware company.

    Broadcom is in the semiconductor industry. It is a completely different mindset. Broadcom does not do software, it does microchips. And, apparently, it is the kiss of death for every company it acquires.

    I'm not very optimistic about VMware's future is what I'm saying. They might as well have been bought by IBM.

    Oh well, someone else will come along and create a new virtual management landscape. Some day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Broadcom does do software

      if you count device-level software as software. Many of us remember the issues that we had with Broadcom 'blobs' that we needed to get our Linux devices to work on the internet.

      In recent years they seem to have played nice with the RPi people but I see that as an exception. Playing nice meant that they sold a heck of a lot more hardware.

      Some years ago, I sat next to someone who worked at their US HQ on a flight to the US from London. He was pretty open about their practices of rip and burn and 'to hell with the customers'. I didn't let on that I was going to the US for a job interview at Broadcom. I canned the interview the next day and flew home.

      I've never liked the company since. Mind you, they are not alone. Qualcomm is just as bad.

      What is it with US companies?

      Ok yes (and speaking as someone who has worked for US companies both here and in the USA, for over half my working life)... they want to screw you so badly that you literally beg for a raise each year. If you get it, then watch out for a corresponding cut in what little benefits that you have. 15 days vacation? Now... it is 10 days and you can count yourself lucky to be allowed to take even 5 days at one time.

      The USA is a shithole that is only going to get worst after Jan 2023. The world as shown in 'A Handmaids Tale' is coming ever closer and it will be backed up with AR-15's by the thousand.

      1. fandom

        Re: Broadcom does do software

        "The world as shown in 'A Handmaids Tale' is coming ever closer"

        You were doing so well, why did you have to tell us you are a political nut?

        Oh, yes, of course, because you are a political nut.

        1. DWRandolph

          Re: Broadcom does do software

          but is he wrong ?

          1. TimMaher Silver badge

            Re: “is he wrong”

            But are they wrong?


          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Broadcom does do software

            He's wrong only in that Silicon Valley is still in California, which may as well be a different country.

            The tech industry crawl to Handmaid states like Texas is really disturbing. It's the ultimate "profit over principles" failure. Of course, Europe has its own problems -- endless bribery scandals at Ericsson/Siemens, industrial-scale cheating at Volkswagen, ... but at least they treat their employees well!

      2. NoneSuch Silver badge

        Plan B

        We recently converted our dev environment away from ESXi to PROXMOX over a long weekend and no one out side of our team even noticed. That will save us a decent chunk of change.

        We're keeping Production on ESXi for now, but we can convert over to PROXMOX at the drop of a hat if the buyout turns out to be negative.

        Some are mentioning Nutanix. We dumped them over a year ago.

        1. Sudosu Bronze badge

          Re: Plan B

          I moved my small "test" environment to Proxmox when I decided I didn't want to pay the ESXi tax for doing backups.

          That was quite a few years back and I am still very happy with the product.

          Not sure how it would work mega-scale, but the base technologies are very mature.

        2. jngreenlee

          Re: Plan B

          >Some are mentioning Nutanix.

          In fact, Russian spammers are lurking in forums to namedrop Nutanix for $0.05 at a go!

          PS - Nutanix will claim "# of users with" AHV adaptation but upon inspection they are demo instances and not Production. There was a mention somewhere that Broadcom was pitting Nutanix against VMware. If we see -rats- execs jumping ship at the former, that would be more evidence.

          1. cweinhold

            Re: Plan B

            "... Broadcom was pitting Nutanix against VMware"

            that's an interesting angle... I wonder if Broadcom's VMware ELA was up for renewal, and they decided it would just be cheaper to buy the company!

            1. jngreenlee

              Re: Plan B

              OMG, that's brilliant. You win the comment section.

      3. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Broadcom does do software

        Its all about financialization, the need to priortize 'shareholder value' over everything else. This process was pioneered in the UK, formalized in the 1970s and really took off from the 1980s. We tend to associate this kind of rampant profit seeking as a signature feature of hedge funds but they're really just an evolution that divorces the moneymaking from the vehicle that makes the money.

        Its what happens when capitalism runs riot, especially late stage capitalism where markets are mature and there are no quick profits to be made from innovation. Everything becomes just an asset, to be valued, leveraged and squeezed to make the best RoI. The purpose of the asset, be it software or just basic stuff like housing, becomes secondary, its just a tool to promote cash flow.

        The effect for us peons is two fold. First of all, where we work becomes somewhere which is always looking to cut costs, the simplest way being to squeeze headcount, wages and benefits. Secondly, all news about a company is financial -- how it affects stock price -- with it becoming a sort of casino for investors seeking capital gains (Tesla's a poster child for how this worked -- it survived to tell the tale). For us the best course of action is to seek a privately held company that's active in a niche market that's headed by people who actually care about the business (....which will work great until it gets sold, but that's always a risk).

      4. Uncle Ron

        Re: Broadcom does do software

        "What is it with US companies?" It's called "Wall Street." Of course not only US companies, but you get the idea.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Broadcom does do software

        Does anyone else remember the integer date overflow in Broadcom 10Mbit ethernet drivers in 1997? If you set the date back, they'd work again until that date.... in an ethernet network driver ffs.

      6. jngreenlee

        Re: Broadcom does do software

        >15 days vacation? Now... it is 10 days and you can count yourself lucky to be allowed to take even 5 days at one time.

        Now now might look like that from our trash newspapers/news websites but the reality for most working adults, and almost certainly 90%+ of IT boggins reading this website, is a lot more PTO than that, and a lot more flexibility about when and where to work (or not).

        It probably looks confusing because we all have different programmes and buckets and rooms to negotiate, it's not as one-size-fits-all as in the Fifth Reich (EU). Bigger standard deviations.

        Of course, for a fry cook or entry level medical billing specialist, your point stands!

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Broadcom does do software

          HA! 10 days would be generous.

          If anything, the OP is understating the problem. Vastly understating.

          And your 90% is upside down. Just spend some more time reading the comments on the daily.

          Or did I fail to detect far too subtle sarcasm? So hard to tell these days.

      7. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Broadcom does do software

        What is it with US companies?

        Rhetorical question, right?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: EMC, Dell and Broadcom - one of these does not go with the rest

      "Oh well, someone else will come along and create a new virtual management landscape. Some day."

      Fairly soon, I'd guess. There'll be a good few ex VMware developers on the job market. It's a pity that it corresponds with a downturn in tech share prices so it might be harder to get investment. However they can point to a burgeoning POBB market: Pissed Off By Broadcom.

    3. Uncle Ron

      Re: EMC, Dell and Broadcom - one of these does not go with the rest

      IMHO, some one else already has created a "new virtual management landscape." It's called Red Hat. Huh?

  2. chivo243 Silver badge

    Tough one... I may be returning to the IT workforce, I have experience in VMware, but may have to learn other flavors of virtualization in order to keep working?

    1. DaemonProcess


      I dont understand why Broadcom think VMWare has a future. I heartily agree that it will probably be stripped of cash, geared up to the point of no investment and used as a means to deprecate non-Broadcom chips in the VMWare market. Medium to long term WMWare are going to be replaced by a mixture of cloud, HyperV, Docker and HCI. In my opinion engineers starting now should start with infra as code such as Nutanix and Terraform along with cloud qualifications.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: out

        I agree. VMware's future is not rosey. It's prices are not cheap and it's competing against a lot of open-source based eviqualents.

      2. Mr.Nobody

        Re: out

        To some degree their idea that they can just maintain bigger customers and reap the rewards makes sense. We have over 3000 VMs that make money for our business. We just barely pay six USD figures in support each year, which in the grand scheme of things is a bargain considering what we recieve. We pay 10 the annual support EVERY MONTH for AWS, for about 1/4 the number of systems (granted, there is more that comes with that $1M a month, but it's still absurdly more expensive than on prem).

        While there are alternatives, trying to move 3000 VMs of legacy applications to Proxmox or Nutanix or some other hypervisor sounds great until you look into the reality of how much work that would take to save a small portion of what we pay each year.

        That said, I was not happy to see that Broadcom is buying VMware. I think it's all downhill from here. They are right though, some of us are locked in regardless.

        As to the person interviewed that thinks VMware support is "OK" and that VMware thrived under Dell apparently was not a customer prior to being owned by Dell. Prior to Dell, VMware had one of the best support groups in the business, and is now the worst. I haven't opened a ticket with support in more than three years because it's a waste of time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: out

          the dell beast gnashes its teeth and rips the heart out of any organization

        2. Peter-Waterman1

          Re: out

          "We just barely pay six USD figures in support each year, which in the grand scheme of things is a bargain considering what we recieve. We pay 10 the annual support EVERY MONTH for AWS,"

          Did you factor in the cost of your fibre channel switches, your SAN, your energy consumption, and your data centre maintenance? What about replacing your old servers, SANs, and switches every hardware refresh? How about patching servers, AV, ESXi upgrades, and OS upgrades? What about your DR site? How much does that cost? When you start to look at the big picture, not just the cost of VMware/support, then you may start to realise that AWS isn't that expensive after all. Of course, not saying its cheap, but if done correctly, there are ways to at least make cloud the same costs as on-prem, and potentially less.

          1. Mr.Nobody

            Re: out

            I think you missed the math here. We pay 10x the ANNUAL support cost EVERY MONTH to AWS for less than 1/3 of the instances.

            Support for servers, FC, storage etc is still far, far less than that per year. I could show you all the spreadsheets. There is a reason why Bezos is one of the richest people on the planet, and that reason is AWS.

            Every time we put up another VM in our environment, our cost is still the same. Granted, this only holds true until we need to purchase another VMware host or bit of storage, but with deduplication and size of hosts just getting larger and large, we keep doing more with a smaller physical footprint. Our on prem costs just keep going down.

            Every time we put up a new instance in AWS, the bill goes up.

            I like that you mention DR. There is this thinking that since one has deployed AWS in multiple AZs that they have DR in that region. People don't get that if one of those AZs goes TITSUP, there is not enough compute or storage IO in the other regional AZs to run that same load. It will probably make the other AZs keel over and die. This has actually already happened. Unless you are running instances in another region or zone waiting to take over for DR, AWS is not going to provide DR for free.

            So no, once you reach a certain scale doing on prem in colo with real equipment, AWS is never close to the same cost. It's at best five times higher.

            1. Peter-Waterman1

              Re: out

              Re DR, I would not be so black and white, each workload has an RPO and RTO and some workloads will be fine multi-az and others need multi region. Do you really require your admin server to be replicated to another region, or can you save the backups to s3 and replicate the backups to another region. How about your SQL server, maybe you need to replicate that to another region, but maybe your DR node can be sized small with high performance disks that can be scaled up on demand. Lots of options and I would say that one policy for DR would be too simple.

              Re costs, it’s rare for an Admin/ITpro/anyone other than finance to have the end to end visibility of what it costs to run an on prem data Center. And until you close your data centre entirely, you end up running a DC and paying AWS to run theirs. And if your running 1000’s of VMs that’s not a good choice in my opinion. A lot of companies use AWS for serverless architecture and keep VMs on prem, seems to be a good strategy. I worked with a company who’s monthly asset tracking system built on serverless was never going to get out of the free tier, and the cio couldn’t believe he wasn’t going to have to pay anything. I worked with another company that went 100% all in, ditched all their onprem licences to go pay as you go and ended up saving about 50% of their total IT budget in year 1. So I guess it’s difficult to say oneway or another what’s best, but just comparing support costs and then writing of the cloud isn’t a fare comparison in my opinion.

            2. jngreenlee
              Thumb Up

              Re: out

              You are spot on, mate. IaaS is always horribly expensive in hyperscale clouds. Other commenter must be in technical marketing or sales for one. You can get enterprise grade systems up with 5 years support for about 4 months of cloud IaaS run-rate.

              SaaS or a custom Kubernetes-based scaling app, or a hosted website make great sense for cloud and financially won't cause you blow your brain out. But porting traditional IaaS over...sheesh.

              No wonder these sales guys have condos in Cabo and unlimited expenses.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      At the lower end of the market, lots of companies are moving more to Saas & Iaas. So there's a lot to be made in AWS/Azure/Gcloud - Start reading up on them.

  3. sreynolds

    So where are you going to go?

    Ellison's Oracle offering? I don't think so.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It really is too soon to judge... but...

    For customers this could either mean that it is:

    . great for the larger customers who get all the focus, but screw the smaller ones ... and then screw the larger ones on price later?

    . not really affect the majority of the customers (read as "cash cows") who just want stuff to work as-is with little or no innovation. Larger ones being served direct, smaller being served via the partner org.

    But the current feeling is that in all probability the employees will suffer from a dramatically changed culture. If they leave in their droves and are not incentivised by just money (they're a pretty principled bunch!), then it's hard to imagine the company thriving and far fewer people going the extra mile for the customers - as many do today.

    There is real innovation going on and VMW is not riding the long tail to oblivion as AVGO seem to think they are. It will be a loss to the wider industry if this goes ahead with all the dire predictions about past mergers coming true.

    So, on balance, this is *currently* being seen as a very bad thing for employees and customers.

    But there are a whole host of meetings going on this week and next... and beyond.

    Only time will tell, but there are many Plan-Bs being worked on by customers and employees alike.

  5. DougMac

    "offshore support"??

    "offshore support??"

    I regularly talk to VMware techs that are located somewhere in South America, Ireland, Australia, India, the US, somewhere in Eastern Europe. Etc. etc.

    How much more offshore support can they get?

    Global companies tend to use resources around the globe..

    I'm mixed on the deal. I thought EMC was a weird way for VMware to go before, and it definately changed things around. I expect Broadcom will as well.

    But, the compition all has major issues too.

  6. Alex 72

    Ahh Broadcome the harbinger of doom

    Even if Broadcom mean it: that they intend to keep all of VMware's customers and grow the business as an independent unit I am not sure they know how. Broadcom will also have the same advisors (accountants lawyers managers whoever) telling them there is an opportunity to hurt the competition by ending support for a competitor.... If they mismanage it or break legacy kit for the sake of it as everyone has pointed out those on the road to public cloud can go to Azure, AWS, Google cloud... instead of whatever VM Ware are doing and those stuck with VM's can use Microsoft Hyper V or KVM or even IBM system i or Joyent or PROXMOX. There is also the container space Docker and LXC/LXD and Kubernetes and so on. And as noted all of these can work with Terraform, PowerShell desired state config, ansible, and so on just as well as VMWare. Most of these alternatives are all still adding features and if VMware stips support and drops stuff well you know. Even those customers who have custom solutions and decades of investment after being forced to replace all the kit in a DC will not have the same brand loyalty in the long run and may use a different platform for greenfield systems.

    So I hope Broadcom can pull it off and grow a profitable company without destroying it but much like the people the Reg talked to I will not hold my breath.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Ahh Broadcome the harbinger of doom

      Stop and think a minute about what happens to every company that gets bought.

      Specially, what happens to the employees?

      Yeah, that.

      Now think about what happens to customer service. Yeah, that too.

      I have yet to encounter a company that was ever improved by being bought out.

  7. Sparkus

    is VMWare on the cusp of irrelevancy?

    is it being kept alive by weight of numbers as well as sysadmins and management who are 'entrenched' with their skill sets?

    There are plenty of bare metal alternatives from the new-fangled 'container' side of the tech world; many of them open source and well supported with well defined roadmaps.

  8. Roger Kynaston

    Shades of SUN and Solaris

    I know Solaris hasn't gone away and all that but I think that this will pan out in a very similar way.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge

      Re: “Shades”

      I see what you did there.

  9. Old Used Programmer

    Don't know if it's meant to mean something....

    Rather odd to use a picture of the BCM2836 for the article. That was the original Pi2Bv1.1 SoC. No Pis have been made using them for several years now. The Pi2Bv1.2 uses the BCM2837, same as the Pi3B/Pi3B+ and--in a different guise--the Pi02W.

  10. Ashto5

    VMWare will become truly virtual

    If you have the scripts you can move your production environments to many other stacks.

    It is only for VMWare to fun at it up and the move away will become a flood

    Any existing bugs will be attributed to the take over

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