With the virtualisation needs of Australian and New Zealand companies continually expanding, VMware Australia has stepped up to meet its ever growing expectations through the cloud. ARN spoke to VMware Australia Vice-President and Managing Director, Duncan Bennet, about his recent promotion, making virtualisation work and the journey to the cloud.
You have been recently promoted to Vice-President and Managing Director at VMware Australia. What are your goals and aspirations for VMware since taking this role?
Duncan Bennet (DB): My first priority is to continue the momentum that VMware already has across Australia and New Zealand. In 2005, we were just six people across Australia and New Zealand and now we’re more like 250, so I hope to continue that growth and success that we already had under my predecessor and current Asia Pacific and Japan vice-president of business Paul Harapin. That also includes the channel, as 85 per cent of our business is done there. A lot of my focus is continuing to ensure that we’re enabling the channel, so we’re working with our various channel partners to help them take our technology to market. Building upon that momentum means making our customers successful in what we call their “journey to the cloud.”
Before you came to VMware, you were the managing director of Sun Microsystems in Australia and New Zealand. What lessons from Sun will bring to your new position at VMware?
DB: In addition to my roles at Sun and other companies, I’ve now been at VMware for sixteen months. I started off in a sales director role, so VMware is not brand new to me. I’ve been here for a while running part of the sales business, so most of the skills and experience I’ve gained over those last sixteen months I use at VMware. Of course, having already worked for a number of American multinational companies has certainly helped when working for another American multinational such as VMware. The difference is that VMware is probably the most exciting company in the industry right now and that was the attraction for me. The growth and expansion of VMware, and directly being a part of that, was what excited me about the company when I joined in January last year.
With cloud computing gaining steam in the IT sector, how important is it in VMware’s overall business strategy?
DB: If you think about virtualisation, it is a necessary prerequisite for cloud computing, so we believe all of our 9500 customers across Australia and New Zealand are on a journey to cloud computing with VMware.
We are working very closely with about 200 partners in Australia and New Zealand who are providing cloud services based on VMware.
So from a customer’s point of view, they can implement a private cloud based on VMware or they can make use of public clouds built by partners around VMware to select what really works for them. We see the future being the hybrid cloud, where some things are in the public cloud and others are in the private cloud, and the ability to really federate across those two clouds through VMware.
Given that there are now competitive virtualisation products on the market from Citrix and Microsoft, and all are working to the cloud, how will VMWare differentiate itself going forward?
DB: I tend to spend most if not all my time focused on VMware as opposed to competing organisations in the market place. We’re very focused on our community of some 1200 VMware partners across Australia and New Zealand, so a lot of our effort is spent in enabling, skilling and proving opportunity for those partners to build businesses around VMware, as well as certifying staff with VMware skills. We feel that one of our real strengths is the overall VMware community around our technology.
If you look at the overall technology, we are adding products to VMware at a rapid rate. We have new products in the desktop and cloud area, and we will continue to bring products to the market which will give us the technological lead over our competitors. We’re also just as focused locally on making sure our community of partners and resellers are enabled around VMware. We don’t compete with our partners, so I think that’s how we best leverage that community.
Assuming that cloud computing will develop into being a key staple of the IT industry, what steps will VMWare take in order to be prepared for future cloud services?
DB: We are already doing a lot of things in this space because it’s certainly moving very quickly, so one of the things we are doing is putting a lot of effort into the cloud service providers across Australia and New Zealand. One of the things VMware allows Australian and New Zealand partners to do is build their own cloud infrastructure around VMware, so a lot of focus is in making sure partners who want to build local clouds around our technology have the ability, support and technical assistance from us to do that. In this development of cloud computing, we see a very fast development in local cloud providers.
One of the challenges with cloud is many of the cloud providers are offshore and we’ve seen quite a bit of debate recently not only about security, but also data sovereignty. A lot of what we’re focused on is providing the ability for local cloud providers to overcome those issues and concerns.
Finally, what message do you have to IT professionals who are keen to make virtualisation work for their company?
DB: Virtualisation is already working for 9500 organisations across Australia and New Zealand. We would certainly recommend leveraging their communities with other organisations who have benefited from virtualisation. We have some very strong partners who have been able to help customers on this virtualisation journey, so I think part of our recommendation would be to identify strong VMware partners who can also assist with implementation.
Anybody who is interested can come to our various VMware events, with our Virtualisation Seminar starting at the end of May in Sydney and Melbourne and continuing throughout the country in July.
We also have our annual user conference in October 28-29 this year, so we try to create various events where people can come and see what we are doing, talk with various exhibitors who are part of the VMware community, and meet others who are involved.
On the partner side, we also run regular partner road shows around the country for existing and new partners, such as the annual Partners Exchange event held in April, so there are plenty of opportunities to find out more about VMware.