Sources: VMware May Hire Global Sales Chief To Help Close Big Enterprise Deals

VMware is considering hiring a global sales chief, in part to ensure that enterprise licensing agreements get closed faster, three sources familiar with the matter told CRN this week.

ELAs are a big business for VMware, accounting for 39 percent of total bookings in its last fiscal quarter. But over the past 12 months, VMware has had problems closing some ELA deals, including its proposed $1.6 billion joint ELA for the Department of Defense, which was canceled earlier this month.

CRN's sources said Carl Eschenbach, who leads VMware's global sales efforts as president and COO, may be under pressure to act soon to address the ELA delays.

[Related: Department Of Defense Cancels VMware's Proposed $1.6 Billion Enterprise Licensing Deal]

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Eschenbach has led VMware's sales function since 2005, and all of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor's regional sales leads report to him. He was named COO in 2012, and his role further expanded last August when VMware moved its corporate strategy and business development function into his organization.

A VMware spokesman declined to comment on whether VMware is considering hiring a dedicated global sales chief. "Carl remains head of sales for the organization and nothing is changing there," the spokesman said in an email.

VMware has been mulling a couple of internal candidates for the global sales chief position, according to the sources.

One example is Jeff Casale, senior vice president and general manager of VMware's Americas business. Casale joined VMware in 2010 after spending the previous 19 years at EMC.

Riccardo Di Blasio, senior vice president of sales and marketing for VMware's vCloud Air business, is another potential candidate for the position, the sources said.

One of the sources, a high-ranking industry executive, said it's possible that VMware will appoint a global sales chief from EMC.

"The EMC Federation is really good at closing ELAs and getting through the gives and gets in these deals," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

VMware could benefit from having a dedicated global sales chief because its business has expanded dramatically in recent years. VMware now has NSX software-defined networking, VSAN storage and its vCloud Air public cloud, none of which existed three years ago.

With all of these new products, VMware is going up against fierce competition, and that's another factor that could impact its ability to close ELAs.

In the channel, Cisco Systems is aggressively going after organizations that are considering VMware NSX and trying to get them to buy its Application Centric Infrastrucure instead, one VMware partner told CRN.

"In the field, we’re starting to see large NSX deals getting put on hold due to Cisco sales going in hard once they have wind of a NSX deal going down," said the partner, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He said this has caused two NSX deals that were supposed to close this quarter to slip to next quarter.

On an earnings call last April, Eschenbach told investors that some VMware ELAs were taking "a little longer to close" because customers were considering whether to add VMware's newer products to their agreements. He also said none of the ELAs that slipped were lost to VMware rivals.

"Our large deals are increasingly including more components of the software-defined data center, as we continue to increase the strategic value our customers rely on from VMware," Eschenbach said on the call, according to Seeking Alpha's transcript of the event.

Since VMware is pushing hard to get customers to get on board with its software-defined data center strategy, which means buying the newer products, CRN's sources said, it would make sense for VMware to appoint an executive to ensure that sales momentum stays on track.