VMware To Overhaul Licensing, Support Process For Partners

VMware is starting to talk about a new portal it's working on that will give customers and partners a central online location for managing product license keys, support requests, downloads and other aspects of their relationship with the company.

The portal, dubbed My VMware, is currently in development and slated for launch in the first half of the year. It will integrate functions that are currently scattered across several different portals: According to a VMware FAQ, the portal is also designed for managing product evaluations and orders, and for requesting renewal quotes for support contracts.

One of the biggest changes will be that support contracts will be "owned" by the organization as opposed to the person who places the order. "You'll be able to decide who will have access to license keys, and what they can do with those keys. You'll be able to delegate who can file a support request, and see what support level you have on what products," VMware says in a video outlining the new portal's features.

This will go a long way toward clearing up confusion over which individuals in customers' organizations can open support tickets, said Jason Nash, data center solutions principal at Varrow, a VMware partner in Greensboro, N.C.

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"Giving customers an easy way to monitor and change these sorts of things is good, in my opinion," he said. "They'll no longer have to pretend to be someone else, or transfer ownership of the ticket to someone else."

VMware partners are expecting to hear more details on My VMware next month at the company's Partner Exchange conference in Las Vegas. In the meantime, they're champing at the bit to find out more about how VMware plans to tackle time consuming processes that have long been a source of headaches.

"From a purely technical aspect it’s not that big of a deal. However I hope it will be a huge deal when it comes to overall license management," said Chris Ward, senior solutions architect at Greenpages, a Kittery, Maine-based VMware partner. "It will hopefully give us better visibility and management into our VMware customers.

Steve Kaplan, vice president of data center virtualization practices at INX, a Dallas, Texas-based VMware partner, expects My VMware to help smooth out licensing logistics. One of the portal's main benefits for the channel, he said, is that partners will no longer have to act as unpaid intermediaries between their customers and VMware.

"Figuring out customers' license or support request status has been a pain point for partners," Kaplan said.

ICI, a Marlborough, Mass.-based partner, has a program called Maintenance as a Service (MaaS) that handles renewals and educates customers on their current licensing scheme. It's a free service for ICI's large enterprise customers, but one that involves a considerable amount of consultation between ICI and VMware's field and licensing teams.

But despite all this work, there are often discrepancies in terms of the licensing that's being reported, sold and used by the customer, according to Jamie Shepard, executive vice president of technology solutions at ICI. My VMware will go a long way toward helping ICI perform this function more efficiently, Shepard said.

"This will help streamline things for everyone," he said. "We expect customers to allow us to log in remotely and use this tool to get more accurate licensing information. Then we can provide customers with more accurate renewals for maintenance, and have a more structured way of up-selling."