Broadcom moves to reassure VMware users as rivals smell an opportunity

'They want a closed shop,' claims service provider

Broadcom and Google have announced a license portability scheme for biz customers to run VMware workloads on Google Cloud. Broadcom is also trying to reassure VMware partners and users that all the changes are for the best, as rivals circle to scoop up any defectors.

The license portability scheme is the latest development since technology giant Broadcom completed its takeover of the cloud and virtualization specialist late last year.

Under this arrangement, customers will be able to purchase subscriptions of the latest incarnation of the VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) software stack from Broadcom, and use those subscriptions to operate instances in Google Cloud VMware Engine or in their own datacenter.

They want a closed shop on who gets to be a partner and force smaller partners to buy from the larger ones instead of direct from VMware...

Google Cloud VMware Engine provides users with a self-contained VMware private cloud as a fully managed service, with VCF as the underlying technology.

Customers will keep their rights to the software subscription when deploying VCF on Google Cloud this way, and have the ability to move their subscription between the two environments, Broadcom said. Those that have already purchased and begun deploying VCF will also be able to transfer the remaining value of a subscription to Google Cloud VMware Engine.

This agreement also allows customers to migrate virtual machines and workloads between their datacenter and Google Cloud. License portability will be available from the second calendar quarter of 2024.

Meanwhile, VMware is trying to reassure customers that all is well, following a number of announcements about licensing changes, products being dropped and the upheaval to its partner program that have come thick and fast over the past few months.

In a posting on the company website, veep of Product and Technical Marketing for VMware's Cloud offerings Prashanth Shenoy defended the post-merger switch to subscription-only licensing and the thinning out of the company's portfolio.

"Subscription is the model all major enterprise software providers are on today. Subscription software is the right model for fueling continuous innovation for customers," Shenoy said, claiming license portability as one such innovation.

On the simplification of its portfolio, he claimed that: "Offering a few offerings that are lower in price on the high end and are packed with more value for the same or less cost on the lower end makes business sense for customers, partners and VMware."

Minimum threshold

However, Broadcom recently ditched its consumption-based vRAM licensing model for service providers, and moved to a model based on the number of physical cores on the host server. It also made it a condition of its partner program for Cloud Services Providers (CSPs) that they commit to licensing a minimum of 3,500 cores.

One service provider told us that this amounts to about $800,000 per year, with a minimum three-year contract term, which renders it unattainable for the thousands of smaller cloud providers currently offering VMware-based cloud services.

As we reported previously, the word in the industry is that Broadcom is only interested in the largest and most profitable customers and resellers, with perhaps only ten percent of the biggest VMware CSPs likely to be invited to join Broadcom's own partner program after the VMware program is terminated. The remainder will have to go cap in hand to those large partners if they wish to continue to provide VMware-based cloud services to their customers.

"They want a closed shop on who gets to be a partner and force smaller partners to buy from the larger ones instead of direct from VMware," another service provider told us.

This hasn't escaped the attention of VMware's rivals, who sense an opportunity to pick up disaffected CSPs, resellers and customers alike.

Cloud platform developer Virtuozzo announced this week a free migration program for VMware cloud providers to switch to its stack instead. The company claims it will provide discovery and requirements analysis, managed deployment services, and training and certification free of charge for those making the trade.

Scale Computing is likewise offering VMware customers a Seamless Switch promotion, under which it will honor any remaining VMware contract at no charge for up to 12 months if they migrate to its platform. Those tempted will also get free migration tool access and training certification, the company said.

Small wonder that post-merger VMware is keen to reassure its user base.

"The changes that have taken place over the past 60+ days were absolutely necessary. We understand this massive transformation and simplification of the portfolio and our business model has raised many questions and concerns as you continue to evaluate how to maximize value from your VMware software investments," Shenoy said.

"We are proactively working with the sales teams and channel partners to help customers make this transition and encourage customers to engage them to work through the best approach for their businesses."

That first service provider told us: "We haven't fully decided on the future of VMware in our business, but we're definitely exploring alternatives. The future will probably be some kind of hybrid with less VMware footprint but likely not zero,". Our source added: "Hopefully this situation will push the evolution of the alternatives, as there is still a large gap in capabilities." ®

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