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VMware fires the team that gave the company its very start

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January 27, 2016

We've learned this morning that in a bold and unpredictable move, VMware has fired the U.S.-based development teams that worked on its Fusion and Workstation desktop hypervisors, the first-generation products that gave the company its own start in life.

We can only imagine the surprise and astonishment inside VMware. Naturally, news of the layoffs made it instantly on Twitter and has also reached a blog by former VMware team member Christian Hammond.

Thelayoff.com also features former and current employees lamenting this bold decision, on the grounds of having been fired, or feeling that VMware has made a really silly corporate decision.

The website also contains a few posts from purported VMware employees suggesting that work on the two products will continue in China, but without saying more.

IT Direction asked VMware to confirm the layoffs and to explain the future of the company and we were told-- “We can confirm that the restructuring activities will not impact the existence of any current software product lines.” That was it.

Later 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 virtualization is a declining business and its network virtualization, storage virtualization and hybrid cloud offerings are its future earners.”

For its part, desktop hypervisors haven't been the company's bread and butter since the early 2000s when it entered the server virtualization software business.

But in 1999, developers responded very well to Workstation's ability to let them run guest operating systems on the desktop. Then Fusion came along in 2007 and brought desktop virtualization to the Mac, again winning a dedicated user base on a second major platform.

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

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

But to be honest, the 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 competing products, but with one of those rivals being the consumer-directed Parallels, that's not remarkable.

To be sure, Desktop Hyper-V is baked into a few versions of Windows, making it a more problematic rival on grounds of ubiquity. The other significant player in this segment is Oracle's free VirtualBox, which is released under the GPL.

Source: VMware.

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