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VMware ‘Redefining’ Channel Strategy With Partner Connect Program

‘This is really a game-changer for us. We have something pretty unique here that we’re super excited about,’ says VMware’s Global Channel Chief Jenni Flinders in an interview with CRN.

In what VMware’s global channel chief Jenni Flinders calls a “game-changer,” VMware has created a brand-new partner program that will redefine how the vendor interacts and conducts business with the channel.

“The new program is redefining the way VMware does partnering,” said Flinders, vice president and VMware’s Global Channel Chief in an interview with CRN. “This is giving the partners flexibility. This is really a game-changer for us. We have something pretty unique here that we’re super excited about.”

VMware Partner Connect aims to drastically simplify the company’s current channel programs by replacing them with a single program and a single agreement with a common incentive model, fee structure and requirements. Additionally, the new program is geared toward partners who achieve Master Services Competencies by providing them with the most rewards including deployment and consumption incentives, co-selling opportunities and prioritization for joint-business planning with VMware.

[Related: 5 Things To Know About The New VMware Partner Connect Program]

Partner Connect has three tiers: Partner, Advanced Partner and Principal Partner, which are mainly based around achieving Master Services and VMware Solutions competencies.

“Principal Partner is kind of where it’s at,” said Flinders. “It’s easier for us to promote you as being the best-of-the-best in a specific category. The more you invest and become a Principal Partner, the more you get to participate in the benefits of the program.”

At a high level, the new program – which will not be officially implement until early 2020 -- was designed from the ground up to align to each partners individual business model. The program allows solution providers to specialize in certain aspects of VMware – such as hybrid cloud, networking and security, or digital workspace -- compared to needing to fulfill VMware requirements that don’t align to the partners business strategy.

“This new program supports our partner’s business model, so we don’t predicate for them that they need to check-off certain boxes that are not relevant to their business model,” said Flinders, who has been working on the program since joining the company last year. “Whether you want to specialize in hybrid cloud, network and security, digital workspace, multi-cloud, or you can choose to do more than one of them -- you get to pick your path and get to invest in specifically what you want to invest in. We’re no longer going to make you sort of pick other boxes too and things that are not relevant. So you now have a clear path more than ever to investment to gain the capability and skills that then helps us sort of ignite the co-sale model.”

In terms of simplification, VMware Partner Connect will become the company’s sole channel program with one common agreement. “So whether you’re a born in the cloud partner, a reseller, provide various services, or whether you’re a partner that does integrated solutions with us – it’s one agreement. We’ve created a single program where partners sign a single agreement with us,” she said.

David Klee, founder and chief architect at Heraflux Technologies, a Nebraska-based solution provider and VMware partner, said the simplicity aspect of VMware Partner Connect is a “great welcoming.”

“For partners like us, it’s difficult to manage the program that’s currently setup. When VMware got rid of the CIPP (Consulting and Integration Partner Program) last year, it kind of dumped us in to this general bucket. There were new requirements, a new fee structure, a different schedule, etc. We had to jump through a number of hoops,” said Klee.

Klee said the new program will streamline the channel’s ability to make money and pivot towards new market trends. “It makes it easier to manage and easier to change your focus in the program as your own business changes and the world changes around it,” he said. “It’s going to make the overhead for business a lot easier to ramp up different competencies and really explore different [market] areas. It also means you don’t have to pay for extra programs, there’s less paperwork and things like that. This is a good change.”

As part of the VMware Partner Connect unveiling on Tuesday, the company launched its new VMware Cloud on AWS Master Services Competency, bringing the total number of VMware Master Services competencies to five.

VMware Partner Connect will not go into effect until early 2020 in order to give partners enough time to transition to the new channel model and discover what tier they fall under.

“Partners asked us to be more predictable and create a clear path to profitability for them. This is the basis for the overhaul of the partner program,” said Flinders. “We’re very excited about our future with partners.”

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