VMworld: Channel opportunity in virtualization huge and growing

Carl Eschenbach, co-president of customer operations at VMware

Carl Eschenbach, co-president of customer operations at VMware

LAS VEGAS — At VMworld this week, one of the key messages from VMware is the company’s continued commitment to the channel.

As Carl Eschenbach, co-president of customer operations at VMware, and Scott Aronson, senior vice president of global channels alliances at VMware, noted during a presentation to partners on Monday, VMware remains committed to being a channel-led company, not just a channel-supported company. In fact, 85 per cent of VMware’s revenue comes from the channel.

Many of the changes announced prior to or at VMworld, including the collapsing of several of the 60 VMware products into product suites and increased focus on driving partner profitability, happened because of discussions with partners about what they needed, said Carolyn Cox, VMware’s senior director of global channel marketing. As the need for virtualized infrastructure increases, there is a huge opportunity for channel partners, she added.

“I think that the new products really afford the partners to take a different kind of message to their end-customers and prospects, particularly suites,” Cox said. “Now we have over 60 products. It’s really important for us to bring those together in better packages for better value for the customers.”

In the SMB market, customers want the same functionality enterprises are already getting, but they want it cheaper and easier to manage, Cox said. The release of suites of products, which provide various features and functions in one package, will make it easier for SMB customers to get the functionality they want and for partners to sell virtualization solutions to those customers.

“It will simplify it a lot for the channel,” Cox said.

In discussions with partners throughout the VMworld conference, Cox said she’s heard that partners are most excited about VMware’s continued focus on making them profitable, as well as the company’s commitment to not compete with them in the professional services space.

The growth of virtualization technologies clearly shows in the size and scope of this year’s VMworld conference. The more than 250 exhibitors and more than 19,000 attendees is testament to how the market is adopting virtualization in various forms.

The partner opportunity is huge, but the real value proposition for partners is in providing professional services on top of product sales. Cox noted that for every $1 of VMware software a partner sells, there’s an additional $1 to $15 of drag in add-on services.

Canadian partners are committed to the changes happening in virtualization, including the extension to the cloud. Roger Singh, CTO of Toronto-based Scalar Decisions, focuses on data center-based solutions and has aggressive growth plans related to virtualization.

“We think there is a good market change happening that we can certainly find an opportunity to bring new solutions to marketplace,” Singh said.

Singh noted that VMware is at the forefront of making the change from virtualization to cloud, which is something his customers are very interested in.

There’s still a lot of space in the market for expansion, he said. More than 50 per cent of servers are currently virtualized, but he noted that means there’s close to 50 per cent that still haven’t been virtualized.

Nagwa Koressa, president of Ottawa-based Integra Networks, got into virtualization with VMware more than 10 years ago, and in that time, the market has moved from being a small, niche market to a huge (and still growing) market that seems to touch on all facets of computing today.

“It will definitely impact how we live every day. The work balance that we’re trying to implement or adopt over the years, now it’s actually become a reality,” Koressa said.

She noted that virtualization of today has created a completely different way of managing IT resources. The technology has been disruptive, and customers have to rearchitect their IT resources. That’s where channel partners come in.

“It requires a completely new set of IT structure, which clients are still struggling with, and they’re looking for guidance from the vendors,” Koressa said.