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VMware Letting Some Partners Sell Professional Services Under New Pilot Program

VMware has its own professional services organization, but with many new products on the market driving a potential flood of future demand, it's giving the channel a seat at the table.

VMware partners that invest in learning the vendor's new storage and networking technologies may soon get a shot at potentially lucrative professional services projects.

In a pilot program unveiled Tuesday at VMware's partner conference in San Francisco, VMware will let services-savvy partners which meet its requirements sell and deliver professional services to customers.

VMware has its own professional services organization, but with new products like NSX, VSAN and vCloud Air now on the market, it's looking to leverage partners' services muscle to meet expected future demand.

"We've grown up as a company that needs professional services. Now, for scale, we need to [bring] partners into the services value channel. Partners that make the investment will get rewards," Dave O'Callaghan, senior vice president of channels and alliances, said in a press conference at the event.

VMware will bring a "limited number" of partners into the program during the first half of the year, and plans to expand its scope in the second half, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor said in a press release.

[Related: VMware Execs Say Software-Defined Data Center Is A 'Bridge To The Future' For Customers]

VMware says partners with skills that span the whole VMware software-defined data center portfolio get priority consideration for the program. While most every partner knows vSphere server virtualization, a lesser number are up to speed on VMware's storage and networking technologies.

Partners in the program will sell services to customers directly, owning the billing relationship. They'll also have free access to VMware's software-defined data center experts, as well as discounted training and other benefits.

Jason Silva, principal at Revel Technology, a Houston-based solution provider and VMware channel partner, told CRN he was impressed that VMware is launching a channel program specifically for professional services.

"VMware for years had ESX," Silver said. "Now it has NSX, AirWatch, and other new things that need to be integrated. I think VMware is trying to round out its partners' professional services capabilities so that they are not just relying on VMware's own professional services."

Getting certified and up to speed on professional services for VMware's growing solution set is a big differentiator for channel partners, Silva said. "This will be beneficial to us," he said. "This is not just a discount on products. We will need to show we are dedicated to the solution set."

In another sign of VMware's commitment, the vendor has hired a new vice president specifically for the program, Silva said. "This is the first time VMware had someone specific to professional services through the channel," he said.

VMware, which plans to make a big channel push with Airwatch this year, also launched a mobility competency for partners. And in Q2, VMware says it plans to launch a software-defined data center competency.

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