VMware partner leadership takes stock of changes since new partner program rollout in March

At VMware Explore, VMware's channel leaders took stock of recent changes to channel enablement, and provided a brief road map as well.

Ricky Cooper, VMware’s Head of Worldwide Partner and Commercial Organization

LAS VEGAS – VMware’s Parter Connect program, the details of which were telegraphed to partners at least year’s VMword Explore, went live in March. Since then, significant other enhancements to partner enablement have taken place. At the Partner Keynote on the day preceding the formal launch of VMworld Explore, VMware’s channel leaders reviewed the changes and assessed the state of the company’s partner ecosystem.

The most significant changes since the program was introduced involved changes to long-standing sore spots that made it overly cumbersome to do business with VMware.

“The problems that made up hard to work with were operational ones,” said Ricky Cooper, VMware’s Head of Worldwide Partner and Commercial Organization. “For example, an average quote was repeated six times, and it was all a manual process, meaning that every time the partner had to wait. The whole process typically took six weeks. It was the same thing with placing orders and the checks and approval process.”

The company knew the process was archaic and had long planned to replace it, but nothing had ever gotten accomplished.

“This had been on the roadmap since 2017, but no one had pushed a button before to get it done, even though the technology in this area had progressed dramatically, especially among the distis.”

Another recent change had been with changing the commercial market this year so that it is now partner led.

“We moved our own teams up with so that they focused on corporate and strategic clients,” Cooper said. “The first two quarters the results have been phenomenal.”

Cooper stressed that the commercial market, which VMware defines with financial criteria, remains very significant for VMware.

“30% of the business that we do is in the commercial space – mainly around vSphere,” he said.

Cooper noted that this was not part of the changes with the new program but something that he added after that.

“Having been at Dell, I realized that having partners lead in commercial could realize great cost efficiencies we can also pass on to partners,” he said. “I devised this system and it came about halfway through my tenure. The distis have invested billions in this, so there was a big advantage in working with them and I got a good grasp of how we could do this.”

Cooper said there is still more that can be done.

“We can increase availability of APIs further,” he indicated. “We can simplify the amount of product SKUs. We can get everybody in alignment better. We just took a step there setting up a new Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit under Chris Prasantha.”

Sumit Dhawan, President VMware said that Cloud Smart, the third of three stages in most cloud strategies until now, following the initial Cloud First and the expansion into what typically becomes Cloud Chaos, is well suited to VMware’s solution set.

“Customers love Cloud Smart, and are excited about the portfolio we have,” he stated. “We have had four existing areas around  app delivery, Cloud infrastructure, workspace, and software-defined edge, with a new one now in Generative AI.

He also noted how the new announcements at the event build on this.

“Earlier this year we announced VMware Cross Cloud Managed Services, and they are now active, Dhawan said. “Our sales teams are now fully aligned, – it is now active – our sales teams are fully aligned.

Tara Fine, vice president of the Americas Partner Organization at VMware said that best practices depends on partners’ financial models.

“Effective practice development  ensure they invest in presales and discovery and can meet customers where they are,” she said. Also critical are co-investment with VMware and knowing how to market together.

Tracy-Ann Palmer, vice president global channel sales programs, incentives and compliance, said that partners’ roles have adapted because of the complexity of customer multi-cloud environments.

“Roles have continued to evolve, which is why we had to create a flexible framework, not for today, but for the future,” she noted. “We are now seeing a 2.5x return for partners in larger deals.”

Palmer also described the statistics in a survey VMware undertook as staggering.

“Our most profitable partners focus on the most advanced, complex services,” she stated. “Managed services margins are double their reseller ones. We have given you the programmatic framework to make sure that you are successful and profitable.”

“The days are gone where we provided services on an ad hoc basis,” said Eileen Gibson, VMware’s Head of Global Channel Accounts. “Now it’s all about building relationships. How can we take VMware and the big OEMs and bring them together, and bring services delivery around these joint partner pools. There are  more opportunities around different use cases.”

“Hyperscalers are one of the types of partners that we work with that was showcased at the event,” said Zia Yusuf, VMware’s SVP Strategic Systems and Industry Solutions. “Oracle has announced that it is joining our cloud universal program.”

Abhay Kumar, Vice President, Hyperscalers and Technology Partners at VMware

“AWS is now running VMware technology on top of their infrastructure,” said Abhay Kumar, Vice President, Hyperscalers and Technology Partners. “It’s a VM product that we take to market, all being sold by VMware through our VMware sellers.”

VMware’s relationship with Equinix is also being expanded, so that customers will be able to deploy the VMware Cloud stack in Equinix data centres, on their bare metal infrastructure.

“This gives further flexibility to partners so that they can buy hardware independently,” Kumar said. “If this model gets traction we will look into expanding it. This is expected in the first half of next year.”

IBM has been one a long-time VMware partner, and that relationship too has been extended.

“IBM will now be able to offer the advanced and enterprise VMware editions, versions, which gives customers more choice,” Kumar indicated.

“This will give them IBM the ability to offer tiered services to their customers,” he said.

“We have a number of other partners who we are announcing as cross-cloud managed services, including Softchoice, Extrovert, Triangle, Kyndryl, Wipro, TeraSky, and ePlus,” he added. “They are existing partners with whom we are taking the next step with cross cloud managed services.”

“These capabilities apply very well to Generative AI use cases,” said Dave McGraw, Vice President at VMware. “We already have a very strong start that we are building upon. Others in the industry cannot do what we do – automate, secure, and privacy for the data are all in our portfolio. It’s why we can accelerate to market quickly. We already had a very substantive portfolio that we were able to leverage.”

Cooper indicated that partners have three points of concern about AI

“One is legal requirements, that’s the leading one actually,” he said. “One is infrastructure requirements and if customers are ready for that, and the other is whether they can effectively enable their business for the partner to monetize it. That’s typically missing at the moment.”