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There is also plenty of business happening for partners at the application layer. Tod Nielsen, VMware's newly minted president of application platform, said VMware now has 3,600 vCloud partners offering integrated services with vSphere and vCloud Director.
VMware will continue working to expand its IaaS portfolio but also plans to sell platform-as-a-service, and the expectation is that partners will so the same. "Developers are going to soon be comfortable having an integrated stack delivered to them instead of buying different components, and this stack will be managed as a service for them," Nielsen said.
VMware's vFabric cloud application platform, which includes the Java development framework from its Springsource acquisition, allows VMware to offer a multi-framework environment to developers that also supports multiple clouds, Neilsen said.
VMware is aware that developers aren’t typically versed in the arts of business development, and Nielsen said VMware will continue to offer guidance in this area. Helping customers cope with mountains of corporate data is one near term area of need.
"The data problem is tremendous and it's getting out of control," Nielsen said. "Data scalability, and bringing together different sets of data and integration it for business value is a big opportunity."
VMware's desktop virtualization business is gaining steam, and channel partners delivered some 12,000 new customers that transacted business with VMware in 2010, said Chris Young, vice president and general manager of VMware's End User Computing group. VMware also saw 97 percent in partner bookings and a 6x growth in partners achieving VMware's Desktop Competency, he noted.
Saas apps are proliferating in many companies, often without the knowledge of IT, and to help customers get a handle on this VMware is working on Project Horizon, a single sign-on mechanism for Saas apps that includes automatic provisioning and policies, Young said. "Think of Project Horizon as an App Store for the enterprise," he said.
2009 was a big year for VMware because it was when server apps deployed on virtual infrastructure exceeded server apps on physical infrastructure for the first time. It was also when the number of copies of Windows or Linux that didn't touch the underlying hardware surpassed those that did.
But to stay high on the hog VMware is moving boldly into the wilds of cloud computing, and it's counting on partners to deliver the services associated with this move. The one thing that's crystal clear at this point, according to Maritz, is that the traditional role of the OS co-ordinating the underlying hardware is yesterday's news.
"That's the job of this new layer we are collectively laying down," Maritz said.