5 Things Employees Love About VMware (And 5 They Don't)

Behind The Scenes At VMware

You can learn a lot about a tech vendor by talking to its channel partners, who are usually well acquainted with their strengths and weaknesses. It's possible to form a similar picture by perusing the employee reviews on Glassdoor.com. Yes, they're anonymous, and, yes, competing vendors may sign up for fake accounts just to bash their rivals for all kinds of shortcomings.

VMware is a dominant force in the data center thanks to its server virtualization cash cow, and the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor is now trying to extend its reach into software-defined networking, storage and hybrid clouds. Judging from its reviews on Glassdoor.com, VMware is also a pretty good place to work. VMware has an overall rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars on Glassdoor.com, and CEO Pat Gelsinger has an 83 percent approval rating. CRN combed through the employee reviews on Glassdoor.com to find things that people love about working for VMware, and things they're not as crazy about.

A VMware spokesperson sent the following in response to the issues VMware employees don't like: "VMware takes any feedback on the company seriously, and we review comments provided directly to us as well as those in reviews on third party web sites. We use this information to continually improve the employee experience here at VMware."

Like: The Beautiful Corporate Headquarters

VMware's Palo Alto, Calif.-based headquarters is situated on a 29-acre site in Stanford Research Park, and it's basically one of the most picturesque corporate campuses you'll ever come across.

On Glassdoor.com, reviewers frequently cite the VMware campus as one of the best parts about working at the company.

VMware hired Architect William McDonough + Partners, known for green construction, to handle the $133 million project, which includes five main buildings, and lots of redwood and eucalyptus trees. There's also a gym with a full basketball court. That alone should get people to dust off their resumes and give VMware a call.

Don't Like: Too Much Hiring From Outside

Many reviewers on Glassdoor.com said VMware has a tendency to fill key positions from outside the company rather than promoting existing employees. That's a problem, some said, because there are plenty of talented people inside VMware.

VMware also has hired managers from SAP, Dell and Oracle, and their leadership styles aren't always in synch with that of VMware managers, according to some reviews. While this is an issue in many companies, VMware's culture has changed in recent years as a result, according to some reviews.

Like: Good Pay, Laid-Back Corporate Culture

Generally speaking, there are few complaints in the Glassdoor.com reviews about the salaries VMware pays its employees, which are often described as above average. There are also chances to move around and do different jobs within the company, and employees like this flexibility to branch out into new career areas.

As for the work environment, VMware has an engineer-friendly corporate culture where you're surrounded by lots of smart people (duh). Some reviewers said VMware still feels like working at a startup, surprising for a company with more than 15,000 employees.

Reviewers said other perks include unlimited time off (subject to managerial approval) and a well-thought-out BYOD policy. No, not Bring-Your-Own-Device, but Bring-Your-Own-Dog to work.

Don't Like: Bloated Middle- And Upper-Management Structure

Several reviewers on Glassdoor.com said VMware has a problem in management because it has hired too many middle- and upper-management people, and not enough people to do the actual work that needs doing.

VMware business units don't communicate well with each other, and there are frequent changes in strategic direction within the groups, according to some of the Glassdoor.com reviews.

Like: Training And Professional Development

VMware does a good job training new employees and helping them develop their skills over time, according to some reviews on Glassdoor.com. There's free technical training, and regular employee surveys where people can weigh in on how their managers are doing. While not all reviews were glowing, VMware seems like a place where hard-working people can learn quickly.

Don't Like: Lots Of Re-Orgs, Turnover Within The Ranks

Many reviewers pointed out that VMware's sales organization has had reorganizations and turnover in recent years that have caused confusion within the ranks. One reviewer chalked this up to all the new software-defined data center technologies VMware is developing, and acknowledged last September that the situation was "still very chaotic."

While VMware partners CRN has spoken with recently seem generally pleased with their relationship with the vendor, one reviewer said the VMware sales organization "does not do enough to make their partners successful."

Like: Lots Of Events, Holiday Celebrations

VMware is serious when it comes to observing holidays and festivals that take place over the course of the year, especially Halloween, the Hindu festival of Diwali and Chinese New Year, according to one reviewer on Glassdoor.com.

VMware also is said to regularly host speakers and musicians on campus, as well as a party for employees every Friday, adding to the overall feeling that its campus is more than just a place to work.

Don't Like: Too Much Internal Politics

Politics are an issue at every company, and many reviewers on Glassdoor.com said VMware is no exception. Part of this is due to different business units having different goals, and part has to do with there being too many middle and upper managers, reviewers said.

Some reviewers said politics are also an issue when product groups are merged, which is something VMware has done frequently in recent years as it's moved to selling its products bundled together in suites. VMware is "not a good place for you if you don't like politics," said one reviewer.

Like: Cutting-Edge Technology

Several reviewers noted that VMware isn't just about vSphere anymore and how it's exciting to be at a company that's aiming to transform data center efficiencies through powerful software. Indeed, while "software-defined data center" is an industry buzzword, VMware employees seem genuinely on board with the strategy and excited about the direction it's taking the company.

Don't Like: Work-Life Balance Is An Issue

While many reviewers on Glassdoor.com cited work-life balance at VMware as a positive, others cited the company's paid-time-off policy as a problem. If you're used to having three weeks of PTO and you come to VMware, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise.

VMware allows employees unlimited time off, but as many reviewers pointed out, it's up to managers to allow their people to actually take the time, and not all of them are on board with doing so. Judging from the tone of the reviewers, that's a bone of contention for some employees.