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VMware’s New ‘Reimagined’ Partner Program Is Finally Here

‘Partners get to choose their own adventure in the program. They get to differentiate based on their investment strategy and business model,’ says Richard Steeves, senior director of Worldwide Partner Programs for VMware.

The virtualization superstar has a new flagship partner program for the first time since 2009 that dramatically changes the way VMware engages and incentivizes its thousands of channel partners across the globe. The program includes new incentives, portals and will integrate the channel programs’ of recently acquired Pivotal Software, Carbon Black and VeloCloud.

VMware Partner Connect, the new three-tier program that pushes technical services competences versus sales thresholds, officially went into effect on March 1.

“It will now be much easier to work with VMware under one agreement, one program, with one thought process compared to all the individual programs they had been running,” said Worth Davis, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Houston-based Computex Technology Solutions. “It’s going to be a lot easier to manage now at the partner level.”

[Related: VMware Cloud Foundation Gets Security Breakthrough At RSA]

VMware Partner Connect – which was first announced in 2018 -- makes all previously partner programs obsolete as partners will only now need to sign one agreement with the vendor. The program was designed to align to each individual solution provider’s business model. Partners can now specialize in a certain aspect of VMware technologies – such as hybrid cloud, network and security, application modernization, or digital workspace – without needing to fulfill other VMware requirements that do not align to a partner’s business strategy.

“Regardless of business model, partners can gain access to the full breath of the portfolio -- that’s the guiding principal,” said Richard Steeves, senior director of Worldwide Partner Programs for VMware in an interview with CRN. “With other programs in the industry, you have to have both the breadth and depth to move up and progress through the program. We wanted to recognize that we have an healthy ecosystem of mobility-centric partners, so let’s give them a pathway of differentiation through a program that doesn’t hinge on their ability to drive one market segment like network virtualization, for example. Partners get to choose their own adventure in the program. They get to differentiate based on their investment strategy and business model.”

Partner Connect includes a new Incentives and Development Funds portal that provides enhanced dashboards and visibility to track their activity with VMware. The role-based portal provides partners more relevant content depending on a person’s individual role inside the company as well as allowing partner to better manage and track reward opportunities.

Additionally, Partner Connect includes the new VMware Learning Zone which provides a variety of new content, including the ability to customize learning plans based on individual partner preferences.

There are three tiers to the program: Partner, Advanced Partner and Principal Partner.

Solution providers in the lowest Partner level receive deal registration benefits, while Advanced Partner status provides development funding, front-end margin and back-end rebates. Solution providers who are Principal Partners get the same benefits as an Advanced Partner, as well as new co-selling field sales engagement, educational co-investment dollars and deployment incentives.

Partners who want to receive the most rebates, incentives and co-selling opportunities need to attain VMware Master Services Competencies. Current VMware Master Services Competencies available are Data Center Virtualization, Network Virtualization, Digital Workspace, Cloud Management and Automation, VMware Cloud on AWS, and its newest Cloud Native competency for Kubernetes.

“We’ll put the full weight and brand behind their recognition as a Principal-tier partner in the program,” said Jenni Flinders, vice president and VMware’s worldwide channel chief in an interview with CRN. “It was designed specifically with customers in mind because we wanted to make sure we were putting the partners with the highest capability in front of customers.”

Computex’s Davis said his company plans to attain every Master Services Competencies possible.

“Everyone who hires technical talent appreciates that,” Davis said. “The Master Services Competencies makes sense. … At a partner level, we’re trying to do the right thing for a customer. That might be two to four master services competencies at any given time. If I’m selling as much VMware as I can across multiple competencies, that’s a good thing. We’ll have all of them here at Computex.”

Over the next few months, VMware plans to integrate recently acquired companies Carbon Black, VeloCloud and Pivotal Software’s channel programs into Partner Connect. “As we bring in the Pivotal partner ecosystem, the Carbon Black partner ecosystem, we want to make sure those partners feel like they have a home that recognizes the investments they’ve made already,” said Steeves.

Flinders said the new program was created with significant input from channel partners. She says VMware needed to create Partner Connect as the company’s transitions to software-as-a-service (SaaS) while also expanding the breadth and depth of its portfolio both organically and inorganically.

“The old program was very transactionally-focused. This new one now centers around the customer journey and VMware’s journey to transition to SaaS and subscription. It’s a huge transformation. We reimagined the whole program,” said Flinders. “It’s the best time right now to be a VMware partner. ... The acquisitions that we’ve made have only strengthened our IT priorities and strengthened the solutions that we can take to customers with our partners. There is no better time than right now to engage with VMware and take our solutions to market.”

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