VMware taking successful measures to ramp up their GSI business

VMware has long had a large GSI business but since early 2022 they have been working hard to deepen that, moving beyond determining value by services revenue, and getting more involved with GSI offerings.

Monty Bhatia, Vice President – Global Systems Integrators, at VMware

LAS VEGAS – VMware has been making a strong push towards increasing its stickiness with Global Systems Integrator [GSI} partners since  Monty Bhatia’s arrival as Vice President – Global Systems Integrators at VMware, in January 2022. He has taken steps to deepen those relationships by changing compensation models to give more rewards for influence, and by becoming more involved in direct and multi-partner partnerships with the GSIs.

Bhatia came to VMware from the SI lead role at AWS, following early such tenures at Virtustream, and NetApp, and before that working at the GSI Deloitte.

“My specialty is working with or for GSIs,” Bhatia said. “In two decades. I have worked either with them or for them. I understand their requirements, what they like to see and what they don’t like to see. I can translate the vendor lingo into a consulting lingo. That’s a gap I can bridge, and that’s why I have the trust with the GSIs.”

VMware had many relationships with GSIs before his arrival, Bhatia said, but they tended to lack depth, and that’s what he was brought in to fix.

“Prior to my arrival, VMware had a big GSI business, but it was very transactional,” Bhatia said. “There were some big ones like Accenture, then large outsources like Atos and Kyndryl who bought a lot from us. Then you had the Indian GSIs like Wipro. Sometimes they would buy from us, and sometimes not, even when they recommended us to the client. The problem, and the challenge in elevating our relationship with the GSIs is that we measured their relationship by the amount of software they bought with us. Accenture and Deloitte made massive decisions that impacted licenses but they didn’t want to buy licenses themselves, so they were considered to be less important to us. We needed to give enough importance to all GSIs, whether they bought a lot from us, or just influenced.”

Bhatia said he took several steps to deal with this issue.

“We now treat GSIs how they should be treated,” he said. “We have to create individual plans for them. We have to integrate our products to their offerings and their strategy. We have to assess the volume our partners are driving on our product. I know that measuring their services revenue with us is hard for our people, but it is necessary.

“We want to enable GSIs to sell our product more, and that’s a fair ask,” Bhatia added. “But they are very strong. They sit on the boards and advise the C levels. We need to look at what they are doing, how they build their strategy and how we become a part of that, to increase their services revenue around us.

“In addition, how Deloitte competes with Accenture is important to me,” Bhatia added. “I want to become part of their offerings that they are building that they go to market with us. That mindset has helped us get more visibility from GSI partners. In the last 18 months, Deloitte, HCL and Wipro have all announced they have stood up VMware dedicated business units. That was missing before I came here.”

Bhatia said that encouraging more multi-partner relationships around projects, involving VMware, a GSI, and other partners like hyperscalers, specialized VARs and MSPs is highly desirable, but is also complicated.

“I believe we need an ecosystem approach to solve problems,” he stated. “Our strength is on the infrastructure side and our relationship with IT folks. The GSIs have strong customer relations. We need to come together as one team in a joint proposition. Coming together with multiple partners in a unified solution is usually more useful. Some customers don’t want that – but that’s the exception – not the norm.  I strongly encourage three and four way partnerships. Let’s build those solutions.”

Bhatia also noted that there are still some GSI relationships, they don’t have all that they would like to have.

“We have a really good partnership with Accenture, but even there we have some strategic alignment issues. We wind up competing with the huge hyperscalers with them at times. It’s a hindrance in doing some more strategic things. So these relationships are not yet where I would like to see them.”

Despite all the big solutions news around the event, Bhatia said that the GSIs have been excited most by the formal announcement by Broadcom CEO Hock Tan that Broadcom would invest $2 billion in VMware’s services capacity once the deal clears. The UK approved it last week, leaving only approval by China as the final hurdle.

“This was actually first mentioned in a May 5 Broadcom blog, the additional funding to R&D, and to VMware and partner professional services,” Bhatia said. “That has generated a lot of excitement among partners, and has been a big step change for us. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the announcement was made.”

Bhatia also noted that VMware hosted a big GSI advisory council at Explore.

“GSI leaders are flying in to attend,” he said. “This is the first time we are doing this. It’s a growing sign of maturity and trust and how GSIs are interested in working with us. Measuring partners by transactional value is changing and that will make partners more important going forward. It will also make leveraging the expertise from the GSIs key going forward.”