I highly doubt there was any such forethought. Much more likely (at least, at companies I've worked at) that some junior dev checked in GPL code as his own work, and it somehow slipped past code review (as can happen at crunch time).
I worked for "shrinkwrap software" companies for `15 years, and all of them had ironclad rules against using GPL software in any way (without a multi-month lawyer-approval process anyhow). One place I worked ran open source detection tools (similar to the plagiarism detection tools, but seeded with all the big free projects) as part of the daily build, they were so paranoid. I'd be surprised if this was deliberate on VMware's part. But then, maybe they're just a shitty company now?
That will be the interesting part of this case, IMO: was this deliberate, against official policy that the dev teams ignored, or some junior guy cheating?