Channel Chief Roundtable: Cloud And Managed Services Demand A New Partner Approach

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CRN: If it's that solution providers are going with fewer vendor partners and going deeper with the ones they keep, is that driven by what you, the vendor, is doing or is this being driven by market trends?

Jesse Chavez: I think it's both. It's definitely both. Obviously we're working from an HP standpoint to help them through whatever pathway that they're taking because every partner evolves in different ways. Some are not going to evolve all the way through. Right? So providing the overall programs from a vendor perspective is part of that overall. But it's really the market conditions that are driving this. So as long as the vendor can provide the tools and the assets to help them through that journey and keep connected to their partners, I think that's what they're looking for. 

Frank Vitagliano: I would also say it's going both ways. From a vendor standpoint, we're doing the same thing. We're going wider and deeper with fewer partners. It's not a comment about the number of partners or capacity. It's about getting strategically engaged. I think what the solution adviser's probably saying is that as this thing rolls out, and it's still a little bit uncertain as to exactly how it's going to roll out, I've got to get comfortable that I'm linked up with somebody strategically and I don't make a mistake. Because if I make a mistake, it sets me back two years.

Edison Peres: What we're seeing depends on the roles that they play. So we see partners playing three different roles. They're either builders of cloud and they spend a lot of their energy on private as well as hybrid clouds, but it's pretty much in that building infrastructure kind of reality. Then you have the providers, those that are actually building out infrastructures and actually being a provider of the service. They have a different requirement and need than the builders, if you will. Then resellers -- and resellers are those that don't actually build out the infrastructure but resell someone else's cloud, it could be ours, it could be anybody sitting around this room and they're just reselling it. 

Those business models for all three are very different. A lot of times what we find is partners have more difficulty trying to figure out which role because many of them want to play multiple roles. When you have multiple business models all competing with each other, then you start to get, I think, a lot of the conflict that we hear. Therefore, the need to then start to identify partners in different areas of your focus is an opportunity for them to start to simplify a little bit more of the model that is, I think in many respects, competing with each other.

Frank Rauch: I don't think most of the people that roam these halls [at XChange Solution Provider 2014] really want to go a sharp left or a sharp right. They want to build from what they've already built. And that's kind of what the VMware is about right now. So having 40 million virtual machines out there in the universe, the partners want to be able to mine the installed customer base.

They want to be able to have fewer vendors on their line card.  So we're offering them cloud and a hybrid cloud. Same thing with mobility; we acquired AirWatch, and we acquired Desktone. Partners are taking the VMware brand and they're extending from where they are right now.

So we're seeing that really resonate and it's kind of giving partners a new life. It's giving them new energy, because I have a new story to be able to tell the market. And the story is, whether you want federate out of data center, whether you want to do it in the data center, whether you want to have software-defined networking, software-defined data center, mobility or device management, you can do it with one brand, but you don't have to do it in a monolithic stack. You can do it in a very open way. 

NEXT: How Do You See The Needle Moving Over The Next Three Years?

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