VMware Stepping Up SMB Game With New Specialization, Incentives

VMware is asking channel partners to broaden the scope of their traditional areas of technology expertise, and it's offering a variety of new incentives to those that invest in doing so.

VMware is working on a new small and medium size business (SMB) partner specialization as part of a broader effort to step up its investment in the SMB space, Scott Aronson, VMware's senior vice president of global channels and alliances, told a crowd of around 4,000 attendees in a Tuesday keynote at the Partner Exchange (PEX) conference in Las Vegas.

While VMware has a presence in both the SMB and midmarket, it's not as well developed as its enterprise business, and so this is where partners are being encouraged to brush up on their skills. Training, partner enablement and demand generation are included in this effort, and Aronson said VMware will share more details on the specialization later in the year, presumably at VMworld in August.

Meanwhile, VMware is asking its Premier- and Enterprise-level partners to step up their game by obtaining at least two levels of solution competencies in order to maintain their status in the VMware Partner Program, according to Aronson. "We will give you a year to get there. We want to be reasonable, but partners have to continue to invest and grow," Aronson said.

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VMware's revenue rose 32 percent in 2011 to $3.77 billion, and 85 percent of that came from the channel. VMware is now adding a trio of new technology competencies aimed at getting partners to move outside their comforts zones and address new types of customers.

At PEX, VMware took the wraps off its Virtualization of Business Critical Applications (VBCA) solution competency, which is available today and includes resources that partners can use to get their customers on board with moving databases, ERP and CRM systems into virtual environments.

Also available now is VMware's new Infrastructure-as-a-Service competency, for partners who are looking to add hybrid cloud solutions to their portfolios. And some time this quarter, VMware will launch its Management competency, which includes tools and resources for partners to sell the vCenter Operations Management Suite.

When partners conclude a sale that's outside the mainstream Infrastructure Virtualization competency, they'll receive a first-time bonus rebate from VMware for their troubles. In addition, partners that register deals with new customers through VMware's advantage+ program will be eligible for a back-end bonus rebate.

Given the diversity of VMware's product portfolio, it's too much to expect all partners to be experts in all areas, Aronson said. To simplify matters, VMware recently launched Solutions Exchange, a partner-to-partner networking tool that can help partners find the skills needed for help them close deals.

VMware at PEX also unveiled its beta for My VMware, a new portal designed for managing product evaluations and orders, and requesting renewal quotes for support contracts, according to Aronson.

"At a time when other technology companies are pulling money out of the channel, VMware is doubling down," said Aronson. "We're asking all of you to invest as well. It's not easy -- customers expect a lot of us in this transformation and we have to be there for them."