VMware channel opportunity is ‘best ever’



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18 October 2013 | 0

The head of VMware’s SMB and commercial business has claimed that the opportunity for VMware channel partners in that market is "by far the best we’ve ever had".

Speaking to Irish Computer at VMworld Europe 2013 in Barcelona, VMware EMEA general business director John Churchhouse identified a number of key areas that would provide strong opportunities for partners going forward.

He revealed that although 68% of workloads had been virtualised to date, the number was expected to rise to 86% in the next three years. Putting that figure into context, Churchhouse said it was equivalent to an additional 25% on top of all the workloads ever virtualised so far.

Moving away from core virtualisation, he argued the phenomena of software defined storage (SDS) and software defined networks (SDN) where virtualisation was being extended from the compute layer to the storage and network layers provided an "absolutely huge" opportunity.

While large customers were likely to adopt SDS and SDN first, it was bound to cascade down into the commercial and SMB spaces over time. As many as 95% of VMware’s customers in EMEA have less than 1,000 employees, so the potential for partners selling into those customers was very high, he suggested, bolstering his argument with a customer survey by the vendor which found 75% were already looking at SDS and SDN.

"Core virtualisation provides the foundation for doing virtualisation in the network and storage layer," Churchhouse commented, so any adoption of SDS or SDN would "not be a leap of faith. It will provide a huge upsell capability for our partners".

Churchhouse also revealed that the company’s strategy of bundling vSphere with vCentre Operations Management into a single product (vSphere Operations Management), making it easier to sell for the channel had been very successful. "We introduced it at the end of the second quarter and adoption has been phenomenally strong. Already, as much as 14% of all vSphere revenue comes through [that bundle] in EMEA. It’s a fantastic way of increasing the deal size and it also gives partners a better insight into the customer and a greater opportunity to upsell."

The product had been "so successful that I suspect we will see more of those kinds of things [in the future]", he added.

VMware also announced plans to offer its vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) in EMEA, starting with a site in the UK which will go into beta in November. The vendor is already providing vCHS from three locations in the US. Bill Fathers, VMware senior vice president and general manager for hybrid cloud, said the service would enter general availability in the middle of the first quarter 2014 and the vendor planned to open more locations in EMEA during 2014 and beyond.

VMware is not building its own data centres but buying capacity on a wholesale basis from a broad range of providers. Father admitted that the announcement of a "potentially competitive service had caused a few conversations with our partners" but he said the vendor was trying to assuage their concerns by making all the technology it was building and using available to them.

He also believed service providers would be able to mitigate any potential negative effects by differentiating themselves in segments of VMware’s "enormous client base, it’s a vast market with masses of capability to differentiate themselves".

VMware president and chief operating officer Carl Eschenbach argued the channel was "in a unique position to take advantage of the hybrid cloud, today it’s mostly deployed by our channel partners and they can help customers migrate to public cloud". The vendor would retain the same channel model it always had so all partners would have the ability to resell vCHS.

Churchhouse downplayed the threat of competition with the channel from vCHS, describing it as "primarily an IaaS offering" and suggesting "a lot of partners could see it as a way of taking cost out of their operations".


 Billy MacInnes

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