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VMware customers have watched Broadcom's acquisitions and don't like what they see

It's not hard to find unpleasant precedents for what might happen to Virtzilla

VMware customers have seen companies acquired by Broadcom Software emerge with lower profiles, slower innovation, and higher prices - a combination that makes them nervous about the virtualization giant’s future.

The Register offers that assessment after spending the day at a VMware user group conference in Melbourne, Australia, where we interviewed over a dozen VMware customers to ascertain their reaction to Broadcom’s surprise acquisition of the virtualisation giant. The customers all requested that The Register not use their names, or those of their employers, as none were authorized to speak to the media.

One of those customers was a sysadmin at a sporting organisation that has decided to drop Symantec products because product evolution has slowed under Broadcom’s ownership. The sysadmin has also heard, from multiple sources including Broadcom partners, that the company uses price hikes to discourage customers it does not want.

His initial reaction to VMware being acquired by Broadcom was: “This is not good news.” The sysadmin has seen other acquisitions go badly and fears the same could happen to VMware.

As someone who has made a considerable personal investment in VMware skills, this sysadmin would fight to retain the company’s products. He hopes it doesn’t come to that.

Broadcom’s history with software-defined networking vendor Cumulus concerned the CIO of a healthcare company. Cumulus makes a cut of Linux that focuses on networking and runs on white box switches. Not long after Cumulus was acquired by Nvidia, it stopped supporting Broadcom switching silicon. It's alleged that decision was not voluntary, but became necessary after Broadcom revoked access to its technology as it did not wish to act in any way that could assist Mellanox, another Nvidia acquisition that competes with Broadcom.

The CIO said he fears Broadcom could make similar decisions that impact his VMware implementations. He also griped about VMware’s recent software quality – he was one of the users impacted by VMware’s recall of a recent vSphere update - and expressed fears that acquisition by Broadcom could worsen that situation.

He rated current VMware support “OK” but felt that any cost-cutting that moved support resources offshore would be most unwelcome.

Most of the other customers we spoke to had a “wait and see” attitude to the sale. But all were aware of Broadcom’s past.

“Broadcom acquired CA and where is CA now?” asked an architect from a university.

“Look at Broadcom’s track record,” said an engineer with a transport company, who added some uncomplimentary observations about Symantec and CA Technologies. “They [Broadcom] say it will be different with VMware, but will it?”

A sysadmin from a chemical company offered similar sentiments, adding that all acquisitions are concerning.

An engineer from an environmental management company offered the most optimistic opinion we found, suggesting that VMware has thrived under the ownership of EMC and Dell, so can do so again under Broadcom. This engineer also saw Broadcom's plan to rename its entire software business "VMware" as a positive sign.

But the engineer was the sole optimistic voice among those we encountered at the event. ®

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