VMware Creates Premier Partner Tier

At the VMWorld annual conference, the Palo Alto, Calif., company said it is expanding its Virtual Partner Network by creating a new Premier Enterprise tier to complement the existing two partner levels: Enterprise and Professional.

The company will offer its Premier-level partners new marketing, financial and support benefits customized for each geographic region, said Mike Mullany, vice president of marketing at VMware. The program is designed for partners that have VMware Certified Professionals on staff and are members in the VMware Authorized Consulting Program.

"The Premier Enterprise tier is designed for companies investing in VMware expertise at higher levels," said Mullany. "A lot of them are already authorized consultants."

VMware conducted a beta test of the new program with five partners. One of them, RapidApps, Chicago, was named a Premier Enterprise partner during VMware's partner day Wednesday, which officially kicked off the company's first major conference since being acquired by EMC in December.

Sponsored post

RapidApps CEO Mitch Northcutt said the program is different from other tiered programs in that it emphasizes technical qualifications, not quotas. He also said it was well worth the investment, which includes having 25 percent of his staff certified on VMware products. "There are additional marketing opportunities, access to their IP, and the same support tools as the internal tech people at VMware," Northcutt said.

Some VMware partners were worried about their future when EMC announced its acquisition of VMware and, while those concerns still linger, most partners are pleased with the growth of the company's channel program and the high degree of independence from EMC, Hopkinton, Mass.

Mullany said VMware has surpassed 1,000 partners, effectively doubling its roster in less than a year, and increased third-quarter revenue to $61 million, up 200 percent from the same period a year ago.

To handle the growing number of partners, VMware recently implemented a partner relationship management system that will eventually handle automated lead and demand generation for channel partners, said Mullany.

The company also launched Wednesday its VMware Community technical user Web site that offers full product documentation, technical papers, a self-service support portal and monthly technical newsletter.

VMware claims to have 5,000 corporate customers and 2.5 million users. Still, the company is a big fish in a smallbut growingpond and is going up against Microsoft, which last month officially launched its Virtual Server 2005. The virtual machine software business has become popular as customers try to eke out as much performance as possible from their data center by running multiple workloads and operating systems in virtual machines on a single server.

Partners note that VMware's expansive and sophisticated line of virtual infrastructure products dwarf Microsoft's offering. They say VMware is more appropriate for data center strategies, while Microsoft's Virtual Server is good for handling NT to Windows Server 2003 migrations.

To that end, VMware Wednesday unveiled plans to deliver during the second half of 2005 a four-way Virtual SMP add-on to the company's flagship ESX server. The add-on will enable a single virtual machine to span four processors, making virtual machines ideal for all applications, according to VMware, noting that Microsoft cannot yet support SMP servers.

VMware and Microsoftas well as smaller third-party companies including SWSoftare trying to jump on a growing market, especially as customers review their server migration strategies due to Microsoft's plans to pull the plug on NT support at year's end.

VMware says it has 400 customers using its enterprise-class migration tool, VMware Physical to Virtual Assistant, to do thousands of migrations of physical servers to virtual machines.

This week, Microsoft said it will release its Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit to the Web after launching Virtual Server 2005 last month. The company said there have been 45,000 downloads thus far and that its Virtual Server can handle software tests and development, rehosting of legacy applications and consolidation of server workloads.

Microsoft has approached some of VMware partnersincluding RapidAppsbut so far it can't offer the same benefits as VMware, partners say.

"Being a VMware partner lets us show customers how to reduce their infrastructure costs, increase ROI time and cut project implementation times. Often, customers have a SQL or Oracle project that is waiting for hardware, but which can be implemented quicker with VMware," said Mitch Kleinman, executive vice president and general manager of Computer Configuration Services, Irvine, Calif. "For us, the services and consulting aspects that are presented by being a VMware partner outweigh the VMware license revenue by a large factor. For every dollar customers spend on VMware, they are buying $2 to $5 in services over time."