4 min

From now on, Carbon Black is a separate “business unit” within Broadcom’s portfolio. In doing so, Broadcom is cutting its endpoint security offering loose from the rest of VMware, which itself has now been split into several divisions.

Update 29-11: Carbon Black (CB) is unlikely to remain part of Broadcom for long. That company says it is looking for “strategic alternatives” for its Carbon Black and VMware EUC business units. It’s also telling VMware partners not to bundle CB and EUC products with other VMware offerings.

Jason Rolleston, VP & GM of VMware Carbon Black, begins with a fairly unequivocal statement, proclaiming that “Carbon Black is back.” He explains that months of work have gone into building up Carbon Black as an autonomous business unit within Broadcom. After Rolleston emphasizes that this security offering is already a leader in the XDR market, he offers clarity on Carbon Black’s vision for it. The focus is on a cost-effective solution, because “every dollar in the cybersecurity budget counts.”

It comes across as a vision wholly separate from Broadcom, VMware and leaves out any integration talk with Broadcom’s security-focused Symantec division, for example. Interestingly, there is still a page live on the VMware Web site that wipes the floor with the now-former competitor. At Symantec, for example, the page claims that there’s a lack of prevention, detection and response actions available to fight off “advanced attacks”. Additionally, Symantec doesn’t use telemetry effectively in combating cyber threats beyond malware. One would think that all these shortcomings would give Broadcom good reason to have Symantec and Carbon Black integrate with each other, as it has for other VMware applications. Nothing could be further from the truth, it appears.

Always been independent

According to senior analyst at Forrester Research Tracy Woo, Carbon Black remained a relatively independent product under VMware’s reign. It was considered a “tag-on” solution for VMware customers since its acquisition in 2019, Woo told SDX Central. As such, it fell into the periphery of VMware offerings, which as a whole primarily focus on virtualization, not security. The acquisition initially seemed to serve VMware’s ambitions of becoming a security player of note, but this ultimately didn’t come to fruition, as the lack of integration shows.

Carbon Black customers have therefore been relatively unaffected by the previous acquisition, the only difference being the company that receives the cheque. Now that Broadcom is at the helm, these customers will want clarity soon. Will this state of affairs of relative independence simply continue, or would Broadcom rather not have Carbon Black and Symantec competing? Paul Webber, Senior Product Management Director at BlackBerry, suggests on LinkedIn that a construction like Groupe PSA with car brands Peugeot and Citroën may be on the horizon. In other words, a situation in which two similar companies operate under one parent company, each with their own identity and target market, despite significant similarities and overlapping offerings.

Ignored by Broadcom

The question remains what Carbon Black’s actual role as an “autonomous business unit” will be within Broadcom. It has not been given its own division, as had been the case for previously acquired parties Symantec and Brocade and several former VMware units. As Dave Vellante of theCUBE explained in 2022, these divisions are bound by effectively one rule. Namely, those that fail to achieve the targeted financial results within four or five quarters will see their divisions either killed off or sold off. The overall Broadcom vision includes curtailments on R&D spending and other costs such as rent, salaries and marketing. That’s not the kind of rhetoric we see reflected in Carbon Black’s announcement.

In any case, Rolleston makes no mention of Broadcom or VMware after his introduction in the blog post. No integrations with Symantec, no plans to enhance Hock Tan’s ambitions. Nor did Broadcom CEO Hock Tan mention Carbon Black a single time in a recent 25-minute interview. A near-half hour should be enough time to at least pay lip service to all the major components of the VMware acquisition.

The sum of these signals suggests that a sale of Carbon Black is likely long-term, as is also the assessment made by TechTarget. Since Broadcom has otherwise been quite explicit about its plans for VMware, this is a logical conclusion. Hock Tan and co have evidently made every effort to consume the VMware offering into Broadcom as soon as possible and integrate it with its own portfolio, with Carbon Black being conspicuous by its absence. As Rolleston promises, the announcement of Carbon Black as an autonomous business unit is just the beginning, we’re likely to get more clarity soon.

Also read: VMware split into four divisions after acquisition by Broadcom