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New channel chief promises changes at VMware

Promising an end to the siloed approach the virtualization vendor has taken to its channel ecosystem, VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) introduced its new worldwide channel conference this week at its VMworld user conference, and promised the company will get easier for partners to work with.

VMware co-president Carl Eschenbach told partners that from day one, they knew virtualization had to be not just channel-supported, but channel-led, and they don't plan to waver from that philosophy. But recognizing their channel approach was too fragmented, he decided a few months ago to bring all channel assets together in one group. After an extensive search he selected a VMware veteran, Scott Aronson, to take on the newly-created role of senior vice-president, global channels and alliances. Aronson made his first public address to partners at VMworld.

He told partners a transition is taking place as IT systems move into the cloud, and the channel must lead the way. It won't be an easy road, but he said the transition is happening and the value is being recognized.

Still, he recognized VMware needs to do more to support partners in that challenge. One is to help partners differentiate more in the market, and another is to make it easier for partners to partner with other partners than can bring complementary skills to a deal.

"We also need to reduce the operational burden that is VMware today," said Aronson. "Quoting renewals business today is more than painful, and that takes away time you could be spending in front of customers. That's an easy fix."

Another "fix" on the reform list is the "contract soup" VMware makes partners wade through for different offerings; Aronson promises it will be streamlined. Also marked for investment is partner education.

"We recognize there's an opportunity cost, but we're investing heavily in competency areas to help you be more successful and create ancillary revenue opportunities," said Aronson, adding partners need to match that investment.

He also promised more investment around incentives and rewards to help partners move into new areas, and pledged VMware won't seek to compete with partners in the services arena.

VMware is making progress working through the different products and lines of business that overlap said Roger Singh, CTO with Scalar Decisions, a Toronto-based VMware partner that works across a number of different VMware businesses and offerings.

"(Support) should be from different people because it is very specialized," said Singh, although there's progress to be made on the ease of business front. "The service provider program is very interesting, and it brings a lot of solution sets together. It makes sense for us as a service provider, and for our customers."

While many partners like to focus on the technology aspects of the cloud, where the rubber really hits the road is around how they're going to sell it to customers said Tiffani Bova, a vice-president with Gartner Research. Issues such as how sales reps spend their time and are compensated can't be overlooked. Also, she said what customers are looking for is changing.

"Customers aren't just exclusively focused on cost-reduction anymore. CIOs are saying it's about innovation and growth now, and how they can grow faster than the market," said Bova. "And the supply chain is changing. There's a different role for distributors in the cloud, and VARs are figuring-out how they can make money selling other's cloud solutions."

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN


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