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VMware axes Fusion and Workstation US devs

The show will go on, says Virtzilla, probably in China. Or how about open source?

VMware has fired the US-based development teams that worked on its Fusion and Workstation desktop hypervisors, the products that gave the company its start.

News of the layoffs made it onto Twitter, of course, and has also reached a blog by former VMware team member Christian Hammond. also features former and current employees lamenting the decision, on the grounds of having been fired, or feeling that VMware has made a silly decision.

The site also contains posts from purported VMware employees suggesting that work on the two products will continue in China.

The Register asked VMware to confirm the layoffs and to explain the future of the products and were told: “We can confirm that the restructuring activities will not impact the existence of any current product lines.”

The company also sent the following statement:

In some cases, roles and responsibilities associated with particular businesses will be moved to other regions and office locations. VMware continues to invest in all of its offerings across the portfolio, with emphasis on our growth products.

You'll hear remarks about growth products a lot from VMware because, as we reported earlier today, the company has admitted that compute virtualisation is a declining business and its network virtualisation, storage virtualisation and hybrid cloud offerings are its future earners.

Desktop hypervisors haven't been the company's bread and butter since the early 2000s when it entered the server virtualisation business. In 1999, however, developers responded very well to Workstation's ability to let them run guest operating systems on the desktop. Fusion came along in 2007 and brought desktop virtualisation to the Mac, again winning a dedicated user base.

Both products have had annual updates in most years, with last year's versions adding GPU support and more cloudy bits. Both are also, according to Hammond's post, profitable.

But not profitable enough, it appears, that saving some money by moving development work to a cheaper country doesn't make sense.

Workstation's place in VMware's history makes this decision an emotive one. But desktop hypervisors are hardly a critical category any more. Fusion and Workstation are widely held to be superior to their rivals, but with one of those rivals being the consumer-directed Parallels, that's not remarkable.

Desktop Hyper-V is baked into some versions of Windows, making it a more problematic rival on grounds of ubiquity. The other significant player in the space is Oracle's free VirtualBox, which is released under the GPL. Which doesn't sound like the worst idea ever to The Register's virtualisation desk, although Fusion and Workstation probably have enough ESX in them to make it unlikely VMware would ever let the code run wild.

What say ye, Virtzilla? ®

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