VMware Shuffles Channel Execs: Brandon Sweeney Takes Top Channel Post; Ross Brown To Lead Cloud Charge

VMware is shuffling its executive deck, making channel ace Brandon Sweeney its new senior vice president of worldwide partners and alliances and moving Ross Brown from that position into a role focused on cloud, IoT and other emerging technologies, a source confirmed Friday.

In his new role, Brown – who stepped into the top channel job two years go – will lead VMware's business with systems integrators, systems outsourcers, ISVs and technology partners like Fortinet, Apple and Samsung. Brown has been at VMware a little over two years as worldwide partners and alliances VP. Sweeney is a 14-year VMware veteran credited with building the company's channel.

"Ross is really good on strategy, and he's going to take on that next generation of partners that are going to start to develop on a VMware platform," a source familiar with the transition told CRN. "We're channeling a forward investment model, and a current investment model on opportunities we have right now on containers, IoT and [VMware] Cloud Foundation on AWS as they become less nascent and more mature. We're able to focus on execution and keep the momentum in the channel going."

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"I think it's good news for partners," the source said. "Brandon pretty much built the channel at VMware."

In a statement to CRN, a VMware spokesman said Brown will lead a newly formed team "designed to accelerate next-generation cloud technologies with partners."

Sweeney's team will oversee VMware's global relationships with solution providers, distributors, telecom companies and OEMs. That will be on top of Sweeney's current responsibilities overseeing VMware's worldwide partner organization, and for commercial sales, inside sales and the relationship with Dell Technologies, which acquired VMware's parent company EMC last year.

The strategy behind moving Brown and Sweeney is indicative of VMware's need to stretch beyond its roots in server virtualization and into emerging technologies like cloud orchestration.

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VMware acknowledges that the market for its traditional server virtualization products has matured, and that the growth rate for its vSphere hypervisor, long the cornerstone of its product lineup, is in decline.

In response, the Palo Alto, Calif., company has begun pushing marketing and product development dollars into technologies, like vSphere-based software-defined data center, that help customers use virtualization not just for private cloud, but for public and hybrid cloud applications, as well. The company has also put significant energy behind its NSX network virtualization technology, its Horizon client virtualization offering, its AirWatch mobile device management product and vSAN storage virtualization.

VMware has also introduced Software-as-a-Service versions of its on-premises Horizon and AirWatch solutions, is working to bring NSX and its software-defined data center offerings to the public cloud and has forged cross-cloud partnerships with AWS and IBM.

Mark McKeever, principal at MicroAge, a Tempe, Ariz., solution provider that works with VMware, said his firm has found some success with the newer solutions VMware has developed, but will likely be able to accelerate its growth in those areas now that Brown is 100 percent focused on helping partners breaking the emerging technology glass.

That said, McKeever said the company is having success with products like NSX and vSAN. "We generated a multimillion-dollar pipeline from 16 deal registrations," he said. "One of them closed recently for over $1.3 million. We could do much more if there were more consistency and predictability in working with their channel organization."

Brown and Sweeney, McKeever said, are two of the most impressive executives in VMware's channel operation. Brown, he said, "has a great bead on what's working and isn't in their channel business. He's really transparent about any shortcomings, and he's committed to action." Sweeney, he said, "has a solid vision about where to take [the channel business] with partners."