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VMware, AWS Execs: 'Tremendous Momentum' For Partners Around VMware Cloud On AWS

More than 125 partners have now been accredited and they're seeing customers looking to leverage the joint hybrid cloud solution to ease moving workloads into the cloud.

Almost one year since VMware Cloud on AWS hit the market, a channel has gelled around the hybrid cloud service, with partners finally seeing clear indicators of customer demand and the associated business opportunity.

VMware introduced a formal solutions competency in March, and some 125 partners that have earned that accreditation are bringing the first wave of enterprises into production on the platform, Frank Rauch, VMware's vice president for Americas Partner Organization, told CRN.

Use cases driving adoption are diverse, Rauch said, but almost all revolve around the speed and ease VMware Cloud on AWS provides in shifting legacy workloads at scale into the cloud, Rauch and several channel partners told CRN.

[Related: 10 Things Solution Providers Need To Know About VMware Cloud On AWS]

"It's fun right now," Rauch told CRN. "There's a tremendous amount of momentum. And great support from the AWS team."

Most early entrants into the VMware Cloud on AWS channel have been traditional MSPs, he said, but many global systems integrators have also dived into developing practices,.

Not only are longtime VMware partners extending data center practices through the offering, Rauch said, but several born-in-the-cloud solution providers are for the first time familiarizing themselves with VMware, often through introductions made by AWS channel leaders.

"Our two brands are bringing a product and solution to market that's very channel-ready and channel-accepted," Rauch said.

Rauch's counterpart at AWS, Vice President for Global Alliances Terry Wise, told CRN that partner momentum around the hybrid service has exceeded his expectations.

There's a high bar to earning the competency, Wise said, with requirements for joint training in sales, technical know-how and service delivery.

"It's a big investment for them," Wise said. "But they're all in."

Those partners are seeing the potential for selling recurring managed and value-added services by integrating native AWS features like machine learning, data lakes, IoT and edge computing.

At Relus Cloud, an AWS partner based near Atlanta, "for the last four years, when somebody mentioned VMware, we would shake our heads and talk to them about how there's a better solution now, how they need to be innovative, and there's the cloud and specifically AWS," the company's CEO, Mark Metz, told CRN.

Relus didn't have an offering around the dominant player in on-premises infrastructure software.

"We always tried to position our solutions and consulting on moving from that environment to moving to a more elastic, pay-as-you-go consumption model," Metz said.

But with VMware and AWS joining forces, and the two companies adding features, availability zones, and certifications around health care, finance and government, "it's becoming a pretty interesting solution."

A half-year ago, Relus shifted gears and educated six of its salespeople around the hybrid service. And in the past three months the company started talking about hybrid cloud with customers, Metz said.

Eight companies—most of them large enterprises with years of investments in on-premises environments and large IT staffs comfortable with VMware—have shown interest, Metz said.

They want to move applications to the cloud "without trying something that's new and scary and all those people having to learn a new skill set," he told CRN.

Applications designed to run well on VMware will run just as well on VMware Cloud on AWS, he said. That makes the service "somewhat of an easy button to move existing applications into an environment they know with AWS."

Then, an AWS expert like Relus can help those customers "start leveraging all the other AWS services as they see fit. Whether databases like Aurora, or IoT or security, or other storage solutions."

That "rich portfolio of ancillary services" is the opportunity that turns on the lightbulb in the heads of partners contemplating bringing the solution to market, Metz said.

"It gets these customers into the AWS platform, and allows us as an AWS partner to leverage the rest of the platform," Metz said.

Faction, a Denver-based private cloud provider with eight data centers in the U.S. and U.K., came to VMware Cloud on AWS from a completely different starting point than Relus Cloud.

Since its founding in 2006, the company's core business has been offering VMware-virtualized environments, John Drake, Faction's vice president of strategic alliances, told CRN.

But Faction has been expanding into multi-cloud managed services, and now is putting a "strong emphasis on VMware Cloud on AWS," Drake said

"We're starting to see the use cases," he told CRN, and the power of marrying the familiar VMware hypervisor with back-end AWS infrastructure and services.

The ability to spin up a complete environment on bare-metal servers in 75 minutes is groundbreaking, Drake said.

Faction recently started running clients in production after early proofs of concept and testing.

"We're starting to see more people get excited about it," he said, because of the "dynamic nature and proximity of AWS, [which provides] much more scalable back-end infrastructure than the other VMware clouds are going to be able to provide."

There's so much organic demand that Faction hasn't had to evangelize the technology, Drake said. Instead of selling the vision, Faction is focused on helping customers implement it.

"VMware Cloud on AWS can provide a way to make that migration into AWS a lot simpler. That tends to be where we see the movement, for workloads on that cusp," Drake told CRN.

The public cloud nexus is "breathing new life into the VMware side of the house," Drake said. And Faction complements those capabilities with its own portfolio of migration, storage and disaster recovery capabilities.

Presidio, a New York-based solution provider, has long been a VMware and AWS partner, delivering multi-cloud solutions to a roster of large customers across the country.

Before VMware Cloud on AWS came to fruition, the company was helping customers move workloads from on-premises VMs to AWS instances, which involved a difficult conversion process, Vinu Thomas, Presidio's CTO, told CRN.

The joint service makes the migration easy, and customers are eager to take advantage of that, Thomas said.

Presidio has closed deals for VMware Cloud on AWS with a half-dozen customers, and several more are on the ramp, he said.

Many of those customers were already using both VMware and AWS.

"It was two different use cases," Thomas told CRN. VMware was predominantly deployed by IT operations teams; AWS by DevOps, test/dev and QA.

"There's a lot of demand because you can bring both together," Thomas said, putting IT admins back in control of the complete enterprise IT environment.

Presidio has seen customers that want to shut down data centers entirely without making substantial back-end changes. Others want greater disaster recovery capabilities implemented in time for hurricane season. Large media companies have expressed interest in more capacity without expanding their physical footprints.

And with NSX, VMware's virtual networking solution that's a component of the hybrid cloud service, partners can better fulfill those use cases by stretching networks across environments and shuttling workloads back and forth, Thomas said.

Mark Vaughn, director of Presidio's data center group, said VMware and Amazon have essentially redefined what is meant by hybrid cloud—instead of joining different environments, they're creating the same environment in different places.

Rauch, of VMware, said the service is notching wins from companies large and small, and across industries including education, pharmaceutical, financial services, utilities, health care and government.

Interest in the channel is ramping up as well, he said. VMware has even seen partners that do business in areas where the service isn't available investing in the VMware Cloud on AWS Solution Competency.

"I was surprised by the intuitive acceptance of the solution," Rauch said. "People really got it."

Amazon's Wise said he's been particularly surprised by demand from the public sector and enterprises that work with the government.

To that end, Amazon and VMware have already brought the hybrid service into the AWS GovCloud region. But customers are clamoring for acceleration of compliance efforts, especially around health care and European data sovereignty regulations, he said.

The service will be global by the end of the year, Wise said.

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