As the saga of the recent $69 billion acquisition of VMware by Broadcom continues to play out, it has sent shockwaves through the tech industry. As I look around and watch the dust starting to settle, it’s clear that VMware’s extensive user base – hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide – has been left with uncertainty and difficult decisions ahead. It’s actually a little hard to watch.

A majority of VMware partners and customers are coming to a stark realization: the future they planned for with VMware will likely look vastly different under Broadcom’s leadership.

The tectonic shifts began late 2023 when the first signs of change emerged. VMware announced updated subscription packaging, bundling previously standalone products like Cloud Foundation and Tanzu into a single paid offering. For loyal customers relying on these solutions, this signals a pivot toward financial motivations over customer-centric values, which leaves IT leaders at an uncertain crossroads as they ask “What’s next for my hybrid cloud strategy?”

I’d like to use this blog to explore the developments to VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center portfolio head-on. I’ll offer some analysis of the new VMware Cloud Foundation subscription model and try to guide you through your most likely available go-forward options.

The VMware we all knew may be gone – but your ability to adapt and thrive through disruption remains.

Updated VMware Cloud Foundation Packages

VMware’s recent announcement on packaging updates introduces significant changes to its product offerings and licensing model that are raising customer concerns. The updated packaging includes:

The shift towards an exclusive subscription-based licensing model marks a considerable change in VMware’s approach. Historically, CapEx-focused organizations have preferred perpetual licensing for its one-time purchase appeal, accommodating easier budgeting for long-term software use without needing annual allocations. This transition could unsettle customers who invested in perpetual licenses expecting lifetime support and predictable costs. Instead, they may encounter unexpected expenses during renewal periods, as the subscription model could lead to increased costs. 

Customer Options

Navigating the updated VMware Cloud Foundation licensing landscape presents distinct paths for customers, each with its implications for cost, utility, and strategic alignment. Here’s a breakdown of the key considerations:

Option 1 – Sticking with VMware Cloud Foundation Licensing

Mainly for those organizations already invested in and satisfied with the VMware Cloud Foundation suite. Maintaining this path might offer temporary cost benefits if your operations are deeply integrated with VMware’s ecosystem and require a significant portion of the included products. 

However, feedback suggests that a one-size-fits-all VMware solution is rare. Many organizations blend VMware products with third-party or in-house solutions, reducing the reliance on a comprehensive VMware suite.

Challenges with Full VMware Suite Adoption

Convoluted Decisions for Partial Suite Users

Option 2 – Reduce Licensing to vSphere Foundation

I hear more customers and partners leaning toward this in these early conversations. This entails replacing the set of required capabilities from the VMware Cloud Foundation package with more cost-effective (and often more public cloud-interoperable) options while sticking with vSphere Foundation to handle your compute and storage virtualization and operational monitoring of vSphere workloads.

Primary Benefits:

Risks to this approach:

Option 3 – Remain in Datacenter – Replace VMware Stack

Options 3 and 4 are for customers who have determined that they need to get away from Broadcom, no matter the cost. Some of these customers opt to keep at least some of their workloads in the data center (Option 3). In contrast, others may opt to use this as an opportunity to divest away from data centers altogether (Option 4).

For customers looking to stay in the data center but switch out the underlying technologies, this is a fairly large undertaking, depending on your existing footprint. This could involve switching out VMware products to VMware competitors at multiple layers of your stack and ensuring that your new product stack is completely interoperable.

By the way – if your approach starts with Option 2 – where you adopt, say, CloudBolt *shameless plug (but hey, it truly is the right answer here)* – if you choose to mature to either Option 3 or 4 down the road, your self-service layer goes with you, and can help drive interoperability between some of these systems.

Benefits:

Risks:

Option 4 – Go Cloud Native

For those considering a full exit from their data centers in response to Broadcom’s VMware acquisition, shifting to cloud-native architectures may represent an appealing strategy. Adopting microservices, containers, serverless platforms, and other cloud-native technologies promises increased agility, scalability, and innovation velocity compared to legacy environments.

However, be warned that the path to realizing this vision will take longer than you might expect. Truly re-architecting applications and transforming operational practices to leverage cloud-native’s full benefits involves deep technical and cultural changes within an organization. The journey requires significant financial investment, retraining staff, refactoring code, and likely replacing some legacy systems completely.

For many enterprises, this level of transformation will not feasibly align with business priorities and realities in the near term. The hybrid cloud path provides a practical middle ground. With a hybrid cloud, organizations can modernize legacy systems incrementally while also leveraging cloud platforms for greenfield development. This balanced approach allows enterprises to gain some cloud-native advantages while ensuring continuity of critical business operations.

Conclusion

As VMware customers face difficult decisions in the wake of Broadcom’s acquisition, I empathize with the uncertainty many are feeling. Transitioning business-critical systems brings risk, cost, and complexity that technology leaders must weigh carefully. This is an unsettling time and presents opportunities to reevaluate technology strategies for years to come. Avoid decision paralysis, but take the time needed to analyze options carefully.

Ultimately, the right choice depends on individual requirements, long-term goals, and the willingness to navigate the complexities of the transition. As customers evaluate their options and competitors of VMware, carefully considering costs, interoperability, and the desired strategic direction will be crucial in determining the most suitable path forward in the post-acquisition landscape.

At CloudBolt, we aim to be a trusted partner for organizations navigating this transition. Our vendor-neutral orchestration platform offers flexibility to integrate both VMware and third-party solutions/competitors of VMware, aligning with diverse needs. For those seeking alternatives, we facilitate smooth migration from VMware technologies to our solutions. If now is the time to talk more, feel free to reach out for an open dialogue on how to move forward thoughtfully, which sets your organization up for long-term success.

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