VMware on Wednesday unveiled new channel initiatives to a gathering of its solution providers, including new incentives that many storage and other vendors will pay to VARs who sell the company's server virtualization technology with their products.
Starting this week, solution providers who sell VMware's server virtualization technology attached to products from a number of third-party vendors are eligible for an additional 5 percent to 10 percent margin on their VMware sales, said Steve Houck, vice president of worldwide channels for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor.
That bonus margin will be paid by those vendors, not by VMware, under the new VMware Alliance Affiliate Initiative, Houck said. The initial vendors in the program include CA, of Islandia, N.Y.; Dell, of Round Rock, Texas; EMC, of Hopkinton, Mass.; McAfee, of Santa Clara, Calif.; NetApp, of Sunnyvale, Calif.; Riverbed Technology, of San Francisco, Calif.; and Vizioncore, of Buffalo Grove, Ill.
The VMware Alliance Affiliate Initiative, which is part of the VMware Advantage Plus program, came about as VMware and its technology partners were looking for a way to address increasing the drag of VMware sales with the other vendors' products, Houck said.
"The partners are providing the incentives," he said. "They see the value of attaching VMware virtualization solutions with their products. We help them with solution guides and common distribution partnerships."
Rolf Strasheim, director of client solutions at Peak UpTime, a Tulsa, Okla.-based solution provider and partner to both VMware and NetApp, said that his company has already done several deals tying the two vendors' products together, and that he looks forward to the additional bonus to help expand the sales.
Given the fact that NetApp arch-rival EMC is by far the largest equity owner of VMware, Strasheim said that it is amazing that VMware is able to work so closely with companies like NetApp for the common good of the customer.
"It shows that these companies' ultimate consideration is for the customer," he said. "It's where the emphasis is being put, and where it needs to be. We talk about the concept of 'customer first' in our organization. This trumps everything else in business."
The VMware Advantage Plus program already includes incentives from VMware to partners, including a new account registration bonus, a deal registration bonus, and an influencer award, Houck said. Solution providers can qualify for the new VMware Alliance Affiliate Initiative bonus on top of any other bonuses they are eligible for, he said.
Also new are additions to the VMware Authorized Consultant program, or VAC, said Julie Eades, the company's director of worldwide channel marketing .
The first is the ability for solution providers to apply for VMware Certified Designed Expert certification. This requires investing a significant amount of time in training, culminating in the presentation of a sample design and implementation project to a panel, Eades said.
VMware is also building services into its training framework to help both experienced and new consultants with VMware services, Eades said. "We feel it's very important to help partners build a healthy services business," she said.
The third addition is the VMware Services Acceleration Kit. "We are packaging our professional services implementations and design and consulting intellectual property into collateral, training, and implementation guides," Eades said. "It's packaged so that partners can put their own labeling on it."
The Kit will be initially available for such services as chargeback, configuration management, and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) compliance, Eades said.
Solution providers said the kit will help in quickly expanding the market for VMware.
Pete Elliot, director of marketing at Key Information Systems, a Woodland Hills, Calif.-based solution provider and partner of VMware and IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., called the Acceleration Kit a good idea.
"This shows that VMware is trying to figure out how to best reshuffle its marketing resources," Elliot said.
Strasheim said the kit was aptly named. "It will speed our go-to-market," he said. "More than anything, the question of branding our name vs. the vendor's brand name in the market is an issue. Every vendor wants us to be an extension of them. But we want people to think of Peak Uptime as the solution provider, not Peak Uptime the NetApp reseller, or Peak Uptime the VMware reseller. I very appreciate what VMware is doing."
Other additions to VMware's channel program include pre-packaged lead generation campaigns that can be coordinated with solution providers' marketing programs, and aid in working with an outside advertising company to help smaller solution providers improve their marketing, Eades said.
VMware is also introducing a "Going Green" initiative to make it possible for solution providers to provide carbon credits to their customers who implement server virtualization technology to eliminate servers from their infrastructure, Houck said.
"There is value in carbon credits," he said. "We're working with a third-party company to handle this. These credits can be used as additional customer savings or additional partner margins."
Many of the changes in VMware's channel program come as a direct result of VMware's January acquisition of Foedus, a Portsmouth, N.H.-based provider of virtualization technologies and services.
"It's a culmination of our acquisition of Foedus," Houck said. "(Foedus' people) are working with our teams to take their best-of-breed practices and bring them out to our channel partners."
While a vendor acquiring a solution provider carries the risk of channel conflict, Strasheim said the changes to VMware's channel program prove that it is not always the case.
"It's nice to see the vendor use all that intellectual property, as long as it's for good and not for evil," he said.