Channel programs News

VMware Expands Deal Registration Program, Incentives, To Push Software-Defined Data Center Tech

Joseph F. Kovar
Ross Brown

VMware on Monday revamped the deal registration portion of its channel program in a move to get its partners to focus less on the traditional server virtualization business and more on readying customers for what it calls next-generation software-defined data centers.

The changes to VMware's Advantage+ partner program stem from the need for the vendor to move its channel program from one focused on projects to one focusing more on the subscription business, said Ross Brown, senior vice president of VMware's worldwide partners and alliances.

Starting this week, VMware will move from offering a single incremental deal registration discount to one that offers different discount levels based on which solutions best serve customers' changing requirements, Brown told CRN.

[Related: VMware's NSX, VSAN Sales Surge In Q2, CEO Gelsinger Bullish On Dell-EMC Deal Impact]

VMware will offer channel partners a 15-percent deal registration incremental discount for sales of its Horizon remote desktop services solution, Brown said.

The discount rises to 20 percent for sales of VMware vSphere server virtualization technology; VMware Workspace One integrated device management, application delivery, and identity management technology; or the VMware AirWatch enterprise mobile device and application software.

The highest discount, 30 percent, is available for sales of the VMware vRealize cloud management platform, VMware NSX software-defined networking technology, and VMware VSAN software-defined storage technology, he said.

Brown said that when he joined VMware a year ago, the company and its channel were still best-known for its VMware vSphere virtualization technology. "It was easy to talk about," he said. "If a customer was looking at a $40-million server refresh, it was easy to talk about purchasing $20 million in servers and $1 million in VMware technology."

VMware's product portfolio, however, has changed with its customer base, and so its channel program also has to change from one focused on products that are bought and sold, Brown said.

"Now partners are dealing with products like NSX, which are harder to discuss with customers," he said. "The benefits to customers are there, but [are] a lot less obvious. So we felt we needed to shift our deal registration program from a traditional program based on registering a deal a few weeks before the deal is closed. Deals for newer technologies are long-term discussions."

Ron Dupler, CEO of GreenPages, a Kittery, Maine-based solution provider and VMware channel partner, told CRN that he is a fan of VMware's deal registration changes.

"VMware is trying to shift incentives towards the next-generation product sets," Dupler said. "And it's rewarding partners who work with those next-generation product sets."

GreenPages' sales reps make their money from long-term trust from the client, and not from selling solutions just because they can get a better commission check, Dupler said.

"They're not coin-operated," he said. "But VMware is an important part of the marketplace in transitioning to the cloud. And a part of what channel partners do. The new incentives help with focus. Our reps have a finite amount of time. They need to look for new opportunities in next-generation solutions."

The changes to Advantage+ definitely make sense, said Dan Molina, CTO of Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and VMware channel partner.

"Ninety-plus-percent of our customer base already has vSphere virtualization technology in place," Molina told CRN. "It's time to take them to the next level with NSX, vRealize, and so on. These solutions provide a lot of value. But not a lot of sales reps are paying attention to them. Increased incentives will help."

VMware is a leader in creating advanced functionality to help customers move to a software-defined data center, but customer adoption is not yet at the point the vendor needs, Molina said.

"This makes it more fair to VMware," he said. "In the past, I've seen one rep get registered to sell everything. If another rep comes in and sees an opportunity for NSX and can get a deal, it makes sense for him or her to get the NSX deal registration bonus. The rep with general deal registration might not see the NSX opportunity."

It's unclear how much of an incentive the extra deal registration bonuses will have on pushing VMware's next-generation software-defined data center technology, said one VMware channel partner who preferred to remain anonymous.

"VMware has a broad portfolio that is feature-rich," the solution provider told CRN. "Customers want virtualization. But they don't necessarily want to move up the stack. A lot of customers want basic hypervisors. The reps register the deal, and then VMware's sales teams and reps push back and ask why not sell VSAN. At VMware, the mantra is, 'No naked vSphere.'"

Changes to the deal registration program are the first in a series of updates planned for VMware's Advantage+ channel program, Brown said. The company will also be rebuilding its partner portal and making other changes to reduce what he called the friction caused by a program built around one solution.

"We will make it a more graceful program," Brown said. "Also, the federal business is different. We will need to come up with different incentives because of concerns about how the government views marketing dollars in relation to kickbacks."

The pending acquisition by Dell of EMC, which is a majority owner of VMware, should have no impact on planned changes to VMware's channel program other than to make it possible for VMware to take advantage of the capabilities Dell will bring, Brown said.

"Our Dell business for us is just like business with CDW or HPE," he said. "We look at Dell and EMC as just other channels for us. If you are a Dell or EMC partner, your VMware relationship might be smoother for you. But we will be aggressive with everyone. Our intent is to grow. Whoever can help us with sales, we'll work with them."

Joseph F. Kovar

Joseph F. Kovar is a senior editor and reporter for the storage and the non-tech-focused channel beats for CRN. He keeps readers abreast of the latest issues related to such areas as data life-cycle, business continuity and disaster recovery, and data centers, along with related services and software, while highlighting some of the key trends that impact the IT channel overall. He can be reached at

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