VMware Channel Chief: Virtualization A Platform For Services

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However, the real value of server virtualization comes as solution providers add more services on top of the technology, said John Schwam, director of the global partner resource center at VMware.

Schwam, speaking on Sunday during the opening keynote presentation at XChange '08 in Dallas, Texas, said server virtualization is not just about getting customers to virtualize servers, but instead it is a foundation on top of which solution providers can offer a wide range of services.

That ability to build on top of a server virtualization platform is driving huge revenue opportunities for customers and their channel partners, Schwam said.

For instance, he estimated that $1.7 billion in VMware licensing sales last quarter also drove about $6.9 billion in sales of solutions to go with those licenses, as well as about $8.6 billion in related services. "If you take all three of those things, you have a revolution," he said.

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Citing IDC statistics, Schwam said that server virtualization can also lead to a boom in sales of related solutions and services, including $8.2 billion in business continuity and disaster recovery, $4.0 billion in security, $2.4 billion in networking, and $8.5 billion in storage.

And that business is all there for solution providers, as VMware's focus is only on the virtualization component, Schwam.

To help solution providers get involved in the market, VMware has made several changes and additions to its VIP Advantage+ partner program this year, Schwam said.

Earlier this year, the company dropped the minimum sales revenue needed to qualify for a 10-percent opportunity registration bonus to $10,000, compared to the previous minimum of $20,000. For opening new accounts, VMware dropped the minimum sales required to qualify for the 16-percent bonus to $2,995, compared to $20,000 in the past, Schwam said.

Partners who sign up for VIP Advantage+ also get free training in order to get their sales teams certified for selling the technology, Schwam said.

Earlier this month, the company also unveiled its VMware System Builder Program for solution providers who build or sell their own branded servers, Schwam said. "We make sure we have compatibility in the whitebox space that helps build a foundation for other businesses and services," he said.

VMware is also working with other vendors in its Alliance Affiliates Rewards program, Schwam said. Under that program, solution providers sell business continuity and disaster recovery software, security products, networking products, and storage from specific vendors also get an additional 5 percent to 15 percent bonus from those vendors when bundling VMware technology as part of the sale.

Jay Ferron, CEO of Interactive Security Training, a New Haven, Conn.-based solution provider which has been working with server virtualization for about six years, said he is just learning about some of the programs the vendor offers, and is looking forward to taking advantage of the Alliance Affiliates Rewards program.

Ferron said server virtualization is a compelling technology that makes a lot of sense for a lot of people, and that Schwam made a good case for signing with VMware.

However, Ferron said that solution providers who have not dealt with the technology should not just jump into the market with their eyes closed.

He said that, while the ESXi version of VMware's software is available at no charge, it does not have all the functionality of ESX. "Solution providers need to up sell to ESX to help customers get the full benefits," he said. "VMware is not doing bait and switch. I understand the logic and the need to get customers started."

Also important is the fact that while sales certification with VMware is free, technical certification requires partners to pay the full retail price. Also, he said, the technical training is given to both customers and partners at the same, a move he called ridiculous. "We don't want our customers to see our people are getting the same training at the same time they are," he said.