By the time Halloween decorations are placed into retailers’ discount bins, Broadcom should own VMware.
Since the May 2022 announcement of the deal, CRN has covered each development in the $61 billion transaction, talking to partners, analysts, customers, rivals, regulators, the CEO of VMware (twice) and VMware’s largest shareholder, Michael Dell, about it will mean for VMware partners.
Along the deal’s 17-month odyssey, one refrain that has emerged is that only Broadcom President and CEO Hock Tan knows for sure what VMware is going to look like after the deal closes. More than once, Tan said he plans to “embrace the channel.”
Soon, partners said, they will be looking for that hug, and it is not clear if Tan is signaling them to bring it in.
“It’s yet to be seen,” said Bob Venero, president of VMware partner and Dell Federal Titanium partner Future Tech, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “There’s no real direction or answer outside of, ‘Hey this is what we’re going to do.’ We don’t see it in the contracts. We don’t see that in written emails or from a channel engagement perspective.”
Regulators around the world have approved the deal, with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission opting to let its period to make objections expire without challenge. The European Commission won concessions from Broadcom to ensure its good behavior, ordering a fast-track dispute resolution process that gives rival chip manufacturer Marvell Technology a place to complain if Broadcom refuses to share VMware’s technology.
One speed bump has been China, however. Tracy Woo, principal analyst at Forrester, said she doesn’t expect the country to hold out for long.
“China has been slowing the process down, but ultimately I don’t believe they will block the deal,” Woo told CRN via email.“This is a flex from China marking their presence on this major deal.”
For months CRN has requested to speak with Tan to get a better understanding of his plans for Broadcom and VMware’s channel. Tan so far has not granted CRN an interview.
He has tried to put to rest any fear, uncertainty or doubt through regular blogging. However, as the deal moves closer to its Oct. 30 close, VMware partners say concerns remain around pricing, products and channel strategy.
“I think it’s still an unknown whether or not they’re going to let VMware be VMware, which is probably the smartest thing that they can do,” Venero said.
Thundering into that information vacuum last week was Rajiv Ramaswami, the softspoken CEO of Nutanix.
Ramaswami spent four years at VMware, rising to COO for product and cloud services before departing in December 2020. And, as fate would have it, he also spent six years as executive vice president of networking at Broadcom.
In an on-stage interview with CRN editors at last week’s XChange Best of Breed Conference in a room with some of VMware’s largest partners, Ramaswami explored the old wounds Broadcom left in the channel from past behavior following the acquisitions of CA Technologies and Symantec.
“Customers are not necessarily very happy. They typically will see pricing going up, road maps potentially getting shrunk, some products being divested and support levels potentially coming down,” he said in the on-stage interview. “VMware, of course, is being used for mission-critical workloads by many customers. These are areas of concern [for customers].”
O’Ryan Johnson is a veteran news reporter. He covers the data center beat for CRN and hopes to hear from channel partners about how he can improve his coverage and write the stories they want to read. He can be reached at [email protected]..
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