the early days of VMware

I’ve been looking for more information, both internal and external, about VMware the company.  Today, I came across a post from an early VMware employee about what it’s like working as an engineer at VMware.  The post explains some of what I’ve observed here.  It’s on Quora, a place where I didn’t expect to find such information, and certainly not with footnotes!

I especially like that I’m seeing a lot of very forward-thinking work happening, explained here as a “willingness to tackle research problems”.  VMware seems willing to try things out and let the chips fall where they may.  I’m starting research on one of these areas soon.  And while I’m only a few weeks in, I see the people around me working reasonable hours, which is a significant (and significantly positive) change from what I’d become used to.

While I’m sure that things have changed since the author of this post left the company, my observations say that several things have stayed the same.

5 thoughts on “the early days of VMware”

  1. And while I’m only a few weeks in, I see the people around me working reasonable hours, which is a significant (and significantly positive) change from what I’d become used to.

    Could you elaborate on this a bit? I thought that Microsoft was one of the better tech companies as regards to work/life balances and/or “don’t spend all your time at the office” (as opposed to Google, Apple, Amazon, etc).

  2. I’ve got friends at each of those companies, so I know a bit about them anecdotally, but nothing beyond that. I’ll leave it to someone who has actually worked there to comment on that.

    I think that your experience at MS is dependent on the team. Personally, now that I’ve joined VMware, I find that I’m leaving the office at a reasonable hour, I’m not working weekends, I’m not checking and responding to email constantly when I’m home, there are no “workaholic Wednesdays” where dinner is provided and there’s an expectation that you’ll stay late, and I’m not getting calls on the weekends or emails at 2am from my manager with the expectation of an instant reply.

    I’ll also offer the caveat that I’ve only been here for a couple of months, so it might just be that I haven’t become fully integrated into the team. Maybe all of this is in my future, and I just haven’t hit it yet.

  3. [It is clear I don’t respond to comment threads in a timely fashion]

    I could definitely see the MS experience being dependent on the team. In my particular circumstance, I know my mentor/manager shielded us and worked one weekend so that we wouldn’t have to, although in his five years of work he said he could count on one hand the number of times he worked on weekends (although he did generally stay relatively late). There was no mention of “workaholic Wednesdays” or reading/responding to email after hours (although I did it because I found it relaxing).

    I understand my experience might have been different because of my team, my manager, and the fact that I was an intern; I suppose I shouldn’t necessarily think of my experience as the “normal” one. I’ll definitely take a closer look at team dynamics and expectations if/when I decide to move around.

    1. I’m not sure that I would presume that my experience was normal, either. I think it’s totally dependent on the team, and this kind of information is hard to ferret out because no-one really wants to complain about their team. I also think that you can’t really consider it until you’re out of the situation and have enough distance to consider it. This can, of course, go in both directions: I know people who left a team, only to realise how good they had it on their old team, and so had to figure out how to get back onto it.

      One way to try to understand a given team’s condition is to enquire about their MSPoll numbers. If you’re not familiar with MSPoll, it’s an annual poll conducted across Microsoft. It’s intended to be an indication of how employees feel about many things: their manager, their team, their group, their division, Microsoft strategy, and Microsoft leadership. I doubt that any individual team cares much about the numbers for strategy and leadership since they can’t do anything about it, but the numbers about manager, team, and group can be quite meaningful.

      1. [wait, there’s a reply button and I can do threaded replies?]

        Makes sense, and thanks for the reply! I hadn’t heard of MSPoll and will definitely ask for it in the future (hmm…perhaps I can even inquire for my current/future team).

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