From a virtual point of view

From a virtual point of view

VMware is arguably one of the most influential vendors in the market today. Its vice-president of worldwide channel sales, Steve Houck, was recently in town for the Australian iteration of the virtualisation vendor’s Vforum partner and customer event. He, along with local channel director, David Blackman, spoke to ARN about cloud computing, the competitive landscape and emerging channel strategies.

David Blackman (left) and Steve Houck

David Blackman (left) and Steve Houck

VMware’s product roadmap and strategic vision is changing rapidly. What can we expect to see from a channel perspective going forward?

Steve Houck (SH): One of the key messages from my presentation is that while VMware needs to be visionary and establish leadership from a technology standpoint – and that’s what Paul Maritz [VMware president and CEO] is focusing on – our job in the channel is to take that and make sure our model aligns to what the market opportunity is today and then bring the channel along in that evolution at the right range of change.

One of the things when you start talking about cloud computing to partners for example, is that it’s a broad base – you put telcos up there and traditional resellers start saying “well, telcos have pipes straight into my customers”. So it’s important we have a channel strategy that evolves at the right rate.

Today the opportunity is around datacentre, server consolidation and desktop virtualisation, because that’s becoming very real. We have a decent run rate on desktop and as customers have gotten comfortable with virtualisation in the datacentre, and as partners have gotten comfortable with it, they can now tell the story around the desktop a lot better.

Server consolidation and disaster recovery seem to be a no-brainer for the traditional infrastructure channel. But desktop virtualisation is a new field and not a straight cost reductions argument. How should partners be approaching it?

SH: What’s easy about the datacentre is it’s a capital expenditure story. You can go in, whether you’re a partner or VMware employee, and tell a customer about getting more out of existing infrastructure, reducing the number of tiles, power and cooling and a bunch of savings you can do other things with. The desktop story is more of an operational expenditure story. But there are a good number of partners that have been telling that story for a long time. For example, in our Alliance Affiliate program we have CA, whose partners are used to talking about business automation as a five-year horizon and opex savings. Those are the partners that are getting the head-start on the desktop. That’s the biggest challenge, but the partners who solve that and can combine the capex datacentre story with the opex desktop story will do really well.

You mentioned cloud computing as a burgeoning area – where is the opportunity for the traditional infrastructure channel? Is there one?

SH: When you look at cloud computing, the opportunity is very real when you start talking about hosting – hosting is the vehicle for cloud computing whether it’s managed services or controlling the infrastructure yourself. We have a channel strategy for hosting and licenses within that environment. From the SMB to the enterprise, companies are toying with components of cloud computing today through hosting. I think it’s more around how the customer wants their IT delivered. We’re seeing a lot of uptake in the SMB market around hosted. As those SMBs grow, they may decide to go on-premise with their own infrastructure, or have some pieces hosted. Some SMBs may never grow out of that hosted environment.

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