Everything you need to know about VMware

VMware building with arched glass front

Based in Palo Alto, California, VMware's products and services focus on cloud computing, particularly virtualization. Virtualization software allows multiple operating systems to run on a single physical server, thereby maximizing the IT resources that a business has available. 

The breakthrough technology, VMware Virtual Platform (VMP), laid the foundation for the company's success.

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Quick facts about VMware
Founded1998Row 0 - Cell 2
Current CEORaghu RaghuramRow 1 - Cell 2
HQPalo Alto, California, USARow 2 - Cell 2
Annual Revenue$13 billion (2023)Row 3 - Cell 2

History of VMware

Founded in 1998 by Diane Greene, Mendel Rosenblum, Scott Devine, Edward Wang, and Edouard Bugnion, VMware's desktop virtualization tool allows x86 architectures to run on any PC that uses this chipset. The company also has a version of its application (the hypervisor) that runs on servers.

In 1999, the company launched its first official product, VMware Workstation, which quickly gained popularity as a powerful tool for software development, testing, and virtualization. It allowed users to run multiple operating systems on a single computer, independent of the underlying hardware.

The company could also see how its virtualization technology could enable businesses in the server market to enhance their services. In 2001, VMware released its GSX and ESX Server applications. ESX Server marked a significant step forward, eliminating the need for a host operating system running directly on the server hardware.

In 2004, the company was acquired by EMC (known as Dell EMC today), with Greene remaining as CEO. However, her tenure ended in 2008 when, after poor financial performance, she was replaced by Paul Maritz – a 14-year veteran of Microsoft. Later that year, Greene and co-founders of the company Mendel Rosenblum resigned. The same year, the company launched Nexus 1000V via a collaboration with Cisco.

Releasing its open-source PaaS Cloud Foundry in 2011, a year later, their CEO would change again, with Pat Gelsinger being appointed as the new CEO.

VMware created Pivotal Software in association with General Electric in 2013, with many of the company's developer products (RabbitMQ and SQLFire, for example) being moved to this new business. The same year saw the appearance of vCloud – VMware's own IaaS product. In 2021, Raghu Raghuram took over as CEO.

In 2022, Broadcom Software Group announced its intention to acquire VMware for a reported $61 billion. After the UK's Competition and Markets Authority concluded its investigation into any potential for the market to be restricted, the deal went ahead in November 2023.

Hock Tan, president and CEO of Broadcom, said at the time: "Building upon our proven track record of successful M&A, this transaction combines our leading semiconductor and infrastructure software businesses with an iconic pioneer and innovator in enterprise software as we reimagine what we can deliver to customers as a leading infrastructure technology company. We look forward to VMware's talented team joining Broadcom, further cultivating a shared culture of innovation and driving even greater value for our combined stakeholders, including both shareholders."

Raghu Raghuram, CEO of VMware, said: "VMware has been reshaping the IT landscape for the past 24 years, helping our customers become digital businesses. We stand for innovation and unwavering support of our customers and their most important business operations, and now we are extending our commitment to exceptional service and innovation by becoming the new software platform for Broadcom. Combining our assets and talented team with Broadcom's existing enterprise software portfolio housed under the VMware brand creates a remarkable enterprise software player. Collectively, we will deliver even more choice, value and innovation to customers, enabling them to thrive in this increasingly complex multi-cloud era."

What does VMware sell?

An advert announcing the launch of VMware vSphere 8 version 2

(Image credit: VMware)

VMware's core offering is vSphere, a virtualization platform that allows data centers to run multiple virtual machines on a single physical server, optimizing resource utilization and enhancing efficiency. This technology enables businesses to consolidate servers and streamline IT infrastructure management. vSphere+ extends these capabilities by integrating cloud management and Kubernetes, providing a unified platform for both traditional and contemporary applications.

Over time, VMware has diversified its portfolio with tools and solutions that complement this core offering:

  • vCenter Server enables administrators to efficiently manage and monitor virtual environments
  • VMware NSX offers software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities, simplifying the management of secure network architectures in virtual environments
  • VMware Cloud Foundation integrates vSphere, NSX, and vSAN, delivering a comprehensive solution for data centers that combines compute, storage, and networking into a unified platform

Another critical component is VMware Horizon, which provides desktop and application virtualization solutions. Horizon facilitates remote workforce management, a capability that has grown increasingly valuable since the COVID-19 pandemic, by offering a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that ensures secure and efficient access to corporate resources from any location.

To enhance its security offerings, VMware acquired Carbon Black in 2019. This acquisition strengthened VMware's ability to provide advanced endpoint security integrated into its virtualization and cloud solutions. Carbon Black's technology helps protect against a wide range of cyber threats, ensuring robust security measures across customers' IT environments.

VMware's mergers and acquisitions

Since its inception, VMware has been active in acquiring companies to expand its technological capabilities and market reach. Notably, in 2008, VMware acquired several companies, including Foedus, Trango Virtual Processors, and the Israel-based start-up B-hive Networks, among others. These acquisitions were aimed at enhancing VMware’s virtualization and cloud management capabilities.

From 2010 onwards, VMware continued its acquisition strategy to further its innovation in cloud and virtualization technologies. For example, it acquired SlideRocket in 2011, which it later sold in 2013. Other significant acquisitions included PacketMotion, DynamicOps (rebranded as vRealize Automation), and Orchestrator, now known as VMware Aria Automation.

Between 2014 and 2019, VMware focused on acquiring companies to bolster its cloud and security offerings. In 2014, it purchased CloudVolumes, a company specializing in real-time application delivery technology. This was followed by the acquisition of CloudCoreo in 2018, which provided security and compliance solutions for cloud infrastructure. In 2019, VMware made several strategic acquisitions including Avi Networks, which enhanced its multi-cloud application delivery capabilities, and the $2.7 billion acquisition of Pivotal, which offered a suite of developer tools and services. The previously mentioned acquisition of Carbon Black also took place in 2019, although the two companies would be made independent of each other once more following the closure of Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware in 2023.

VMware’s acquisitions continued throughout 2020, with companies including Lastline, a cyber security firm specializing in network detection and response, and Octarine, which provided a security platform for Kubernetes applications.

Key figures at VMware

VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram speaking on stage at Web Summit

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Following VMware's acquisition by Broadcom Software Group, key leadership changes occurred. The founders who laid the groundwork for VMware's virtualization and cloud success were Diane Greene, Mendel Rosenblum, Scott Devine, Edward Wang, and Edouard Bugnion.

The current executive team includes Raghu Raghuram (CEO), Sumit Dhawan (President overseeing operations), Kit Colbert (CTO driving technology strategy), and Susan Nash (SVP for ecosystem and industry solutions).

What can customers expect from doing business with VMware?

VMware by Broadcom logo and branding in white lettering pictured on a black background.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

VMware is a technology company that has been operating for over 25 years, with a focus on virtualization solutions for data centers and IT environments. Their core offerings include software for server virtualization (vSphere), cloud infrastructure (Cloud Foundation), and automation tools.

Following the recent acquisition by Broadcom, VMware has transitioned to a subscription-based licensing model for its products. This change aligns with industry trends and is intended to simplify the purchasing process and provide more predictable costs for customers. Key products like vSphere and Cloud Foundation now use a core-based metric for licensing, which is designed to make it easier to manage hybrid cloud environments.

VMware's Cloud Foundation platform is a key area of investment and development. It provides a software-defined solution that integrates compute, storage, and networking components, enabling a unified cloud operating model across public and private cloud environments. Security features, such as ransomware recovery and disaster resilience capabilities, are also part of this platform to enhance IT resilience.

The company places emphasis on co-innovation with customers and partners. Through programs like the Accelerated Co-Innovation Engineering Program and collaborations with technology firms, VMware works closely with clients to develop customized solutions that address specific business needs. This collaborative approach aims to drive practical innovation aligned with industry standards.

Additionally, VMware is focused on supporting multi-cloud strategies and interoperability across different cloud environments. The company has established partnerships and an ecosystem of service providers to help organizations navigate the complexities of digital transformation and leverage the appropriate technologies to meet their strategic goals.

David Howell

David Howell is a freelance writer, journalist, broadcaster and content creator helping enterprises communicate.

Focussing on business and technology, he has a particular interest in how enterprises are using technology to connect with their customers using AI, VR and mobile innovation.

His work over the past 30 years has appeared in the national press and a diverse range of business and technology publications. You can follow David on LinkedIn.

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