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"VCE takes our architecture numbers -- such as spindle count, RAID levels and so on -- plugs it into a formula and comes out with the specific predefined architecture for the customer," said Shepard. "They'll build it, rack it up, do full testing, and have it to us within a couple weeks. They then take five business days to set it up and plug it into the customer's infrastructure, and then hand it to us to configure."
Another change involves code updates, said Shepard. In the past, each of the partners in the VCE coalition had their own update schedules, which was a major headache. "Now with VCE, code updates are done every six months," he said. "All the Cisco, EMC and VMware updates are sent to us together."
Bob Olwig, vice president of business strategy at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider and VCE partner, said the changes at VCE are quite significant given that Acadia was built around a build-operate-transfer-managed services model.
"Now the emphasis is less on services and more on presales and product integration," Olwig said. "We meet regularly with VCE and they seem to be listening to our feedback. We are seeing first-hand the investments, the dedicated partner managers [and the] certification training they are making [in] building out their channel program."
Olwig said it is good to see VCE’s strategy starting to more clearly unfold. "What will be key is VCE’s ability to execute and navigate amid the legacy channel programs from the founding partners, particularly EMC and Cisco," he said.
While the original VCE coalition was focused on developing a reference architecture for a cloud computing infrastructure, partners were seeing the market move toward a more converged infrastructure that allowed additional flexibility and better supported specific user requirements, said "D" Martin, vice president of worldwide channels for the VCE Company. "We want to enable our partner organizations to drive these solutions," he said. "Our primary route to market is for our partners do the services. We will also have a mentor program to help them get started."
Martin said VCE is putting in place new training programs for solution providers' sales reps, presales engineers and post-sales deployment personnel. He said the new company eliminates a lot of confusion in the partner base surrounding Acadia. "Partners thought Acadia was set up to do services," he said. "Partners thought we were competing with them."