New unified VMware Partner Connect Program goes live

The third version of this partner program since its inception in 2000, this one is focused on moving from three separate partner programs to a single one which includes four different business models where the points from them can all be combined.

While the announcement of the VMware Partner Connect partner program changes took place last fall, with the delay taking place to allow partners to properly prepare, the next incarnation of the VMware program officially goes live worldwide today. A key change is that the program is now unified, bringing together what had formerly been three separate programs into one where partners are classified within four models, but where they can be in as many of them as fit their own business model. Each model earns points separately, but they are grouped together for the purpose of calculating overall rewards and status. VMware thinks this reworking of the program’s core premises will be much more effective at helping partners handle the changed nature of the multi-cloud era.

While the last partner program reboot was in 2020 – not really that long ago given the work involved in redoing the enablement structure for a company of VMware’s size – it was soon revamped from three distinct partner programs to three, and now is being enhanced again. VMware believes the massive changes that are taking place with the transition to a multi-cloud universe mandated the change.

Simon Powell, Director of the Canada Partner Organization

“This new program is an evolution,” said Simon Powell, Director of the Canada Partner Organization. “The customer lifecycle has evolved and is quicker. So while the launch in 2020 met our needs at the time, which was ‘one size fits all’ and very focused on resell, the big need now is to look at ‘Partner In and VMware out’.”

Powell said that the old legacy program model was focused on the resell model.

“Now it’s focused around SaaS and subscription,” he stated. “You will see all the old disparate programs focused into the four pillars of where our partners show up.”

These four pillars are: the Solution Reseller, which resells VMware software and services to customers; the Solution Services Provider, which offers services before and beyond the transaction, with an emphasis on pre-sales advisory and post-sales lifecycle services; the Cloud Services Provider, which offers VMware-based cloud and managed services on a geographic basis, including hybrid and multi-cloud services; and the Solution Builder, which embeds VMware technology as an integrated component of the partner’s own software offerings.

“VMware used to focus its partners in a nice little neat box,” said Chris Swadish, Head of Hybrid Cloud at Softchoice, a large Toronto-based partner which also now has a significant presence in the U.S. “We are a regional service provider, or a cloud provider – depending on the customer and the project. We really fit into all but the builder model.”

Each model generates its own points, but the system isn’t managed like four different programs, as the points from the different models are rolled up into one.

“It is evolutionary, but very specific in moving from a perpetual model to a consumption model,” Swadish said. “Before, the program paid you for closing a deal. But it was really difficult to drive both visibility and appropriate compensation for partners, where 80% were resellers, but who were trying to build services or cloud presence. There was no ability to leverage cross platform. It was like we were three different programs. Now we fit into all the programs and get credit for what we do in each. A related issue for us here is that we have had to do everything in the U.S. and Canada separate and they don’t mesh up well. We enroll in each program separately, and each has their own reward metric.”

The new Partner Connect program awards points for achievements in both training and innovation, from foundational capabilities to differentiated services and IP. It also features a completely overhauled partner dashboard, which VMware is emphasizing.

“This dashboard is now real time,” Powell said. “That’s important to help drive our business with our partners.  A Partner Incentives Tracker is part of this and will help them understand profitability.”

Chris Swadish, Head of Hybrid Cloud at Softchoice

“It has been painful in the past to get insights from VMware,” Swadish noted. “I had a person who was solely tasked with finding information and building insights from that. Now with the automated insights in the new dashboard, it’s all automated and in real time. It was a significant burden on us before. Some vendors have significant functionality in their portals, but not many. Some will send us a spreadsheet.”

VMware Ignite, an existing practice activation and development program, is now being extended to support all partners across all routes to market. “

“Ignite is all about practice development,” Powell said. “It’s not about having a practice around cloud. It’s about helping it evolve into a VMware practice.”

“We participated in Ignite to an extent before,” Swadish indicated. “Its value is understanding the best practices in the industry.

“Alignment is critical for us when partnered in an engagement,” Powell added. “Before we hand selected partners in Ignite. I believe all partners have the appetite for this and the change opening Ignite up to all partners reflects this. In addition, Ignite Boost through our distribution partners has the ability to enable at scale.”

VMware is delivering more incentives aligned with VMware Cross-Cloud services, including Influence Performing Points for registered Solution Services partners who do not transact, but who do influence deals.

“The Influence Performing Points will be mainly for GSIs who lean on with us when it comes to influence,” Powell said. “We finally can meet each partner where they are.”

The specializations include 14 solution competencies, eight master services competencies and new specializations around customer success and partner success

“The competencies have been around for a few years,” Powell said. “With this launch, more of a light is being shined on the capabilities of our partners. It’s not just incentivizing for revenues. It’s giving recognition for the capabilities.”