VMware's end-user compute products are for sale. Who might buy 'em?

Would you rather a cloud that not-so-gently migrates you, or a retirement home like HCL?

Broadcom recently revaled it intends to divest VMware's end-user compute products, which span virtual desktops, app publishing, and device management. Let's ponder where they might land.

The end-user compute (EUC) business unit celebrated its imminent spin-out, with VP and general manager Shankar Iyer writing "We view this as a powerful benefit for our customers and an opportunity for our partners."

He wrote that the unit is profitable, continues to innovate, covers "all critical business functions from IT to Customer Support" and has an experienced team.

But VMware's new owner, Broadcom, doesn't think those qualities make it an asset worth keeping – and has promised to find a suitable buyer.

Broadcom will be careful with that choice, because it knows many EUC customers run the products on the core VMware virtualization and hybrid cloud portfolio it very much intends to keep. Handing EUC to the wrong buyer could therefore cause it a lot of grief.

So who might be interested in the EUC range and acceptable to Broadcom? The Register's virtualization desk has pondered a few possible buyers.

Citrix – The business unit of the Cloud Software Group has been VMware's number one competitor in the EUC field for years and is helmed by former Broadcom Software boss Tom Krause. We mention that connection as who might Broadcom CEO Hock Tan trust more than his former lieutenant? Regulators might worry that Citrix acquiring VMware's range could concentrate market power in desktop virtualization (VDI) – a tech that accounts for around five percent of all PCs in use – but with cloudy PCs on the rise perhaps Citrix could convince regulators that it's not a ruthless monopolist.

AWS – Jeff Bezos's server rental shop is clearly keen on virtual desktops, as shown by its recent creation of a thin client for its Workspaces. VMware's portfolio would give it a new way to sell its modest on-prem hardware portfolio, and a big collection of clients to migrate to its cloud. The acquisition would also bulk Amazon's response to Microsoft's big push for the Windows 365 Cloud PC.

Microsoft – Not a contender, as it's too busy with cloudy – and Arm-powered – PCs.

HCL – The Indian services biz does a more than decent job of keeping legacy wares alive without making users feel like they're being milked, so would fit Hock Tan's criteria for a buyer. Not the worst option.

An Unnamed Chinese Cloud – Chinese clouds would love to get a toehold in the many businesses that run VMware's EUC portfolio, and are cashed up so could tempt Broadcom with a big number. Alibaba Cloud has already signaled it likes virtual desktops by creating its own thin client. But it's hard to see regulators allowing a sale to China, or users being comfortable with the idea.

OVH – The French cloud is a longtime VMware partner, already runs a DaaS service, and has a modest international presence. VMware's EUC wares could take it to another level – but also introduce on-prem complications that are not core business.

HP Inc.Acquired remote desktop player Teradici to create a managed desktop services business. VMware's AirWatch device management tools could improve that service. Just the sort of safe hands Broadcom could see as welcomed by VMware customers.

Oracle – Cashed up, operates an underrated cloud with good on-prem options, and has a very modest VDI portfolio of its own. Also brings a vast customer base, many of whom are just the kind of highly-regulated entities that adopt VDI, so could bundle desktops and/or published apps with its core business applications. My Dark Horse and not just because I’m still waiting for Larry Ellison’s 90s vision of the Network Computer to become reality.

Nutanix – VDI was big reason for Nutanix's rise. But it recently walked away from desktop as a service (DaaS) when it sold its cloudy Frame offering to Dizzion. Broadcom probably sees Nutanix as a direct competitor that could tempt EUC users to its own hybrid cloud stack, ruling it out as a buyer.

Who do you think will buy VMware's EUC portfolio? One of these, or someone we haven't considered? And if you're a customer, who's your preferred buyer?

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