A new version of the VMware Partner Program set to roll out next February, making this inaugural VMware Explore event a very interesting one for Canadian partners.
SAN FRANCISCO – One of the many announcements made at the VMware Explore event here this week was an extension of the strategic relationship between VMware and Microsoft. VMware customers will now be able to purchase Azure VMware Solution as part of VMware Cloud Universal, a flexible purchasing and consumption program for executing multi-cloud and digital transformation strategies that gives customers another way to engage with VMware and acquire its solutions. This caps VMware support for the third of the three largest clouds, following earlier support for AWS and Google. For Canadian customers and partners, this news is comparatively much more important, however, given the relative significance of Azure in Canada relative to these other clouds.
“Last year we introduced a new Cloud Universal Model to consume cloud resources across all clouds,” said Raghu Raghuram, VMware’s CEO, in his opening keynote. “Last year, we initiated support for private clouds and VMware Cloud on AWS. Earlier this year, we added support for Google. We are now announcing that Azure is part of VMware Cloud universal, the Commercial model for Cloud Smart, and we will continue to enhance it to cover other cloud partners as well.”
While within the context of VMware’s overall business, the Azure cloud was the third to be supported by VMware Cloud Universal, the situation in Canada is very different.
“Microsoft is the dominant player for the cloud market in Canada, and for Canada this is the single most important announcement at the event,” said Claude Reeves, Vice President and Country Manager for Canada at VMware. “Customers have been asking us how to leverage VMware with the Azure Cloud, and I’ve been a big proponent of this, because we are one of the markets where Microsoft was the cloud leader. This Azure initiative wasn’t just for Canada, but we are one of the markets that will benefit the most.”
The VMware announcements at the event fell into two big buckets, with very significant version 8 upgrades of their legacy vSphere and vSAN products in one, and extensions to the multi-cloud portfolio that is now the public focus of VMware’s strategy, in the other. Reeves said that interest among Canadian customers in partners in one or the other depends on how their individual cloud strategy has developed to date.
“It depends on where they are in the journey to the cloud,” he indicated. “Some are interested in both for different reasons. Enterprise customers who know they will be multi-cloud and have to manage multiple applications, and who may add other ones, for them, we are the best company, along with the hyperscalers, at enabling cloud workload management. We will allow them to use existing VMware skills across clouds, and we can provide them with the ability to manage cloud native – all with the same tooling.”
Reeves said that while smaller enterprises in Canada see it the same way, the context is different.
“You won’t have the same multi-cloud footprint, but will have a more limited cloud presence with occasional use case clouds,” he noted. “Tooling works well for these smaller enterprises even if they need to go cloud native. We don’t dictate their journey or their architecture.”
While the overall economy remains uncertain both in Canada and elsewhere, Reeves believes that VMware’s core value proposition should keep the company in good stead during a soft recession.
“Data centres are very costly, and I don’t see that changing,” he said. “Some projects could be postponed, and a soft recession makes it tighter for every dollar. We have a value proposition that has us in line with the direction customers need to control costs and retain talent.”
“In a recession, customers will need our partners more than ever,” said Tara Fine, Senior Director, Canada Partner Organization at VMware. “In a soft recession, customers need to think and partners need to help them with how they stay competitive and efficient. A lot of customers don’t have the skills to execute and that’s where channels have become more critical.”
The recently announced changes to VMware’s Partner Connect channel program, which will go live next February, should have a significant positive impact on the Canadian partner community.
While the previous incarnation or the program used tier credits, that is being dumped in favour of a new type of incentive system.
“It’s a flexible point system targeted towards a business model orientation and adding more self service capability to improve partner efficiency and automation,” Fine indicated. Automation will effectively drive that efficiency.”
The new point system is designed to increase profitability and consistency, and develop greater synergy with the customer throughout the lifecycle.
“We will be incenting partners not just for performance but for capabilities,” Fine said, which is different from before when the tier credits solely reflected performance.
Partner Connect will now consist of four business models: solution services, solution builder, cloud solution provider, and solution reseller.
“Our new program speaks to all of those profit centres,” Fine indicated.
“The market has changed fundamentally for partners,” Reeves said. “They interact with each other in ways they haven’t in the past. This system allows flexibility for all partners to get a win.”