VMware Looks to Build Value Channel

New VMware global channel chief Dave O'Callaghan

New VMware global channel chief Dave O’Callaghan

VMware Sunday introduced a new four-tier partner program that will roll out for its many different types of partners over the next six months, the first major change since Cisco channel veteran Dave O’Callaghan came on as new worldwide channel chief just over three months ago.

Kicking off the company’s VMworld conference in  San Francisco with a Sunday afternoon general session for the VMware channel partners, O’Callaghan dubbed the new channel program the value channel, and said it was based around one simple idea – the more VMware and a partner invest together, the greater the mutual reward.

“As we partner with all of you, we may have complexified some things. We need to simplify how we pay you, how we reward you, how we make it all predictable,” O’Callaghan told partners. “Our products have taken complex concepts and simplified them. Let’s do that together in the channel.”

Notwithstanding the questionable nature of “complexified,” the sentiment went over well with partners, particularly when followed up with some preliminary details, such as the announcement that VMware would publish its latest channel rules of engagement on the Web for partners to peruse, and plans to simplify its rate card, particularly for cloud partners.

The value channel approach will roll out between now and the company’s Partner Exchange event next February, and it appeared many details are still in the works. But O’Callaghan did announce that there will be four tiers – Enrolled, Professional, Enterprise, and Premier for all types of partners – including resellers, integrators, outsourcers, service providers, and distributors. The program will also offer further specialization and branding around VMware’s three big technology focuses – the software defined data center (the evolution of its core server virtualization business into a more fully-virtualized data center), hybrid cloud, and end user computing (virtual desktop.)

Dan Smoot, senior vice president of global customer operations and in many ways VMware’s ultimate channel chief prior to the arrival of O’Callaghan, outlined a couple of new initiatives within VMware, including a move to more completely share VMware’s own internal marketing and educational tools and programs with partners, including the promise of a training and marketing mobile application that will be rolled out to the VMware field and its partner base at the same time. Smoot also spoke of simplifying the process through which partners do transactions with VMware, making sure partners can drive more transactions independently of involvement from VMware staff.

O’Callaghan said the company was looking for volunteers for a handful of “early access” partners for key new technologies in each geography. In the past, he said VMware has largely introduced technologies to partners after they have “crossed the chasm” into the mainstream, a reference to Geoffrey Moore’s fabled book on marketing high tech products. O’Callaghan said he would like bring a select group of partners in earlier in the process, letting them “become very intimate” with VMware’s early-stage technologies.

O’Callaghan also introduced former Westcon Group executive Andy Banks as the company’s new vice president of global distribution, charged with streamlining and maximizing the company’s work with distribution partners.