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VMware and Broadcom thoughts

2024-02-14 Vmware 412Linux

I wanted to pivot a little and reflect on the VMware and Broadcom deal. Since the deal closed in November, details have been steadily emerging as to how Broadcom will reshape VMware. There have been a number of announced changes to the VMware product line, licensing, and costs. Not all of the changes have been received positively by existing customers. Existing customers are now receiving new quotes on renewals with pricing that may not reflex their existing budgets. All that said, I have been thinking about the future of VMware.

What is my background with VMware? My journey with VMware started around 2005 with the GSX Server product. I had the privilege of undergoing formal VMware training in 2007, marking the commencement of a long and sometimes intricate relationship with the platform. The early community that formed around the VMware product line was truly fantastic, filled with enthusiasts eager to explore the next generation of virtualization technologies. In those initial stages, challenges emerged in aligning virtualized workloads with their physical counterparts. The early community that arose was very enthusiastic and driven to resolve these issues. For a time period, I hosted a private forum that allowed other admins and engineers to discuss issues privately. This unhindered collaboration allowed a free flow of information that I miss to this day. Through the years the VMware community grew as did the product line and feature sets. Working with hundreds of clusters of various sizes provided me with invaluable experience in virtualization and the broader VMware ecosystem.

How will the announced changes impact customers? Based on current information, I anticipate that all customers will experience some level of impact, albeit tailored to their individual circumstances. For some, the shift to subscription-based pricing could streamline costs, while for others, it might lead to long-term increases. Speculations about a substantial cost surge, perhaps by 4x or more, seem premature and should clarify as customers renew agreements. These recent changes are likely to spark internal discussions about continued VMware platform usage. Historically, customers rarely considered migrating away from VMware entirely, although shifting specific workloads was common. However, with Broadcom’s focus on maximizing returns, there may be a decline in service quality for customers.

What customer base could be impacted the most? I am particularly concerned about small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Throughout my experience, I’ve worked closely with numerous SMBs that heavily relied on perpetual licenses, often extending their lifespan considerably. For many, maintaining up-to-date service agreements represented their primary ongoing expense. If the new licensing fees align closely with existing service agreement costs, the impact on SMBs will likely be mitigated. It’s probable that many customers swiftly renewed their agreements upon Broadcom’s acquisition announcement to secure favorable pricing. However, the true extent of the impact will only become apparent once these agreements expire.

What other platforms could benefit from these changes.
At present, I see Microsoft Hyper-V as the platform poised to benefit most significantly. If the upcoming changes are minimal and VMware continues to meet your requirements, sticking with it makes sense. However, I anticipate many discussions will arise regarding contingency plans. Given Microsoft’s widespread adoption in both SMB and enterprise environments, exploring Hyper-V appears to be a logical step. Moreover, some customers already have access to Microsoft solutions that include virtualization at no extra cost. For those also considering a hardware upgrade, Nutanix emerges as a robust alternative to VMware. Personally, I am enthusiastic about the potential of the XCP-ng project and intend to invest time in familiarizing myself with it."

Final thoughts? I’m experiencing a similar mix of emotions regarding the Broadcom/VMware changes as I did with the recent Raspberry Pi IPO announcements. It’s not anger but rather a sense of disappointment. I’m uncertain if the doomsday speculations surrounding these changes will materialize. However, I do sense that the VMware platform is at a critical juncture, one that may be irreversible. Whether customer pushback will lead to adjustments, akin to the vRAM pricing reversal in 2012, remains uncertain. Only time will tell.

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