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EXCLUSIVE: VMware to revamp how it operates with its channel, says Ross Brown

EXCLUSIVE: VMware to revamp how it operates with its channel, says Ross Brown

Claims the channel can expect many changes in the near future

VMware senior vice-president of worldwide partners and alliances, Ross Brown

VMware senior vice-president of worldwide partners and alliances, Ross Brown

Cloud and virtualisation software and services company, VMware, is making several tweaks in the way it’s approaching its channel, according to the company’s senior vice-president of worldwide partners and alliances, Ross Brown.

Brown only took on the role 11 weeks ago.

He claimed that in the past, VMware had a product-centric approach to its channel, making it an extension of its sales force. However, he said that perception has changed to add value to its channel regardless of the customers the channel has or the solutions it brings to market.

“In the beginning, it was like a mouse trap. The mentality the company had was – you’re a VMware partner, let’s talk about how you’re going to build an NSX business. It’s okay, but it’s still down a product centric standpoint and one where partners are an extension of our sales force.

“That doesn’t work in a multi-product, multi-channel, multi-buyer world because you get locked into multiple components of a deal. Our partners are independent businesses, not an extension of our sales force and it’s our job to add value based on the customers and solutions they’re bringing to market,” he said.

Brown mentioned that with maturity, it starts becoming a practice by practice win and having to build its product story relative to competition or other offers as effectively as possible.

“If we want to stick to the multi-product, multi-channel, multi-buyer thinking, we have to fit to what the channel wants because these businesses need to differentiate themselves. If not, it will become a boring and low-margin play very quickly. We need to complement what they do and create value.”

In terms of programs, Brown claimed he intends to consolidate all of the company’s channel programs into one single contract structure.

“We have distribution partners, global system integration partners, OEMs, embedded alliances, solutions partners, and corporate resellers, and they all have their own programs. It all comes with a separate contract model, separate give gets and benefits, and separate portal,” he said.

“We’re working to consolidate the programs and rationalise it into a single operational model. The single premise behind this is, as we mature into a company into multiple businesses and multiple go-to-markets, we have to choose where we’re going to put the nexus of complexity. Is it in front of the customer, partner or inside our business?

“So We’re trying to pull that inside our business for a better operational structure that scales gracefully out in terms of a capacity model,” he said.

VMware A/NZ managing director and vice-president, Duncan Bennet, said the move is not an unusual one for a business like VMware.

“We were a single product company that moved on to become a multi-product company. And we kept adding on programs for every product that we came up with. So anything that standardises and simplifies that, the A/NZ channel will embrace. Now’s the time to put something more strategic in place,” he mentioned.

Brown also told ARN the Dell-EMC takeover will impact the channel in a good way. According to Brown, it builds the best on-premise and off-premise infrastructure company.

“A lot of people are scared to death about what this means. There’s always the storm before the calm. What is does is bring together EMC’s enterprise sales team, a Dell mid-market sales team and between the storage, server, and switches layers, it’s taking back-office costs out of.

“Meanwhile, owning a premier Cloud company enables it to partner and win Cloud workloads. So VMware needs to be the best that it can be for this to make sense. A one-size fits all approach just doesn’t work,” he said.

Bennet agreed and claimed there was no reason for the channel to panic as it was a situation the company has been in before.

“In 2004, we were acquired by EMC and it didn’t change the world. It’s a natural reaction, which will dissipate quite quickly.”

Brown advised that this acquisition creates a grocery store for channel partners between Dell, EMC, VMware, Pivotal, Cloud Foundry, and all of the company portfolio businesses.

“Pick what you want and build the best partner business you can. It’s a better business opportunity and it creates a whole different bar against competitors,” he said.

VMware’s also got in works a strategy to become a more predictable partner for consistency in its engagement model. The company is currently in talks with its partner advisory council to propose the changes and more details will be announced when the plans get more concrete.

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